The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists®

What to expect from InsideRadiology

Here are some frequently asked questions about using this website and about Radiology in general:

 

Q.

What is Radiology?

A.

Radiology is a medical specialty that uses a special type of testing (imaging) to look at and treat internal parts of the body.
Some of the commonly known tests are:

  • X-Rays
  • Ultrasound
  • CT (Computed Tomography)
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

There are many more tests and procedures - all produce or use images (pictures) that specialist radiologists and other doctors use to help in the diagnosis, management and treatment of many different medical conditions.

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Q.

What is the 'InsideRadiology - Consumer Information' website?

A.

InsideRadiology is a website produced by Australian and New Zealand radiologists and other health professionals about radiology tests and procedures. It contains information for health consumers and treating health professionals in a searchable website. Its content is endorsed by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR), the peak professional body for radiology in Australia and New Zealand. The work was carried out through a grant from the Commonwealth Government of Australia to the Quality Use of Diagnostic Imaging (QUDI) Program of RANZCR.

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Q.

Who has written the information found on InsideRadiology?

A.

All information items have been written by radiologists or other health professionals who are regarded as national experts in their field. The items have then been edited by a team of specialised consumer writers to ensure they have been made as easy to understand as possible by health consumers, patients and carers. However, radiology is a highly technical, rapidly changing, and complex area of medical practice. So if you are unsure about any of the information you find on the "InsideRadiology" website, or you have concerns about any aspect of a radiology test or procedure, please discuss the information item with your health care provider. The website is especially designed to make the items easy to print out and take with you. For further information on how the content was developed view the About InsideRadiology page.

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Q.

How do I use the InsideRadiology resource?

A.

There are several different ways you can search for a procedure, test, or other information relating to radiology.
  • Keyword Search – Type the name of the test, procedure, or other item (or a keyword) into the search box and click on ‘Search’
  • Part of the Body Search – If you do not know the procedure you are searching for but you know which part of the body is involved? Click on the interactive picture to see a list of procedures that can be performed on that area of the body.
  • Index of all information – To view the tests or procedures associated with a particular specialty, simply click on the "+" sign beside each heading, i.e. women’s health (women's). "General" includes information about imaging modalities, the roles of different people involved in providing radiology services, radiation risks and contrast agents used in radiology procedures.

If you are having difficulty reading the text on this website due to the size of the text, you will find text size increase and decrease buttons on the information items. In addition with all current web browsers, the web page size can be increased using "Ctrl +" and decreased using "Ctrl -".

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Q.

What if I cannot find the procedure I am looking for?

A.

If you cannot find the exact test or procedure you are looking for, you may be able to find a related item by using the keyword search option. It is anticipated that more items will be added to the resource in the future.

Sometimes, you might not find the exact procedure you are having, but there may be more general items that will give you lots of useful information about your procedure. For example, if you are having a CT scan of the adrenal glands, you will not find an item that specifically describes this test. However, if you read about CT scanning and radiation as well as contrast media, you will be well prepared for much of what may happen when you go to the radiology practice or hospital to have the test done. Please use the feedback page to suggest topics for consideration by the InsideRadiology Editorial Board.

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Q.

I think I need a radiology test. How do I get one?

A.

To have a radiology test you will need to obtain a referral from a doctor, specialist or other health professional who has taken your thorough medical history and examined you. Radiology tests are one part of your overall medical care, and you may need to have other non radiology tests before your doctor or other health professional can decide if you need a radiology test to help find out what is wrong, or to reassure you that everything is normal.

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Q.

Can I find out where I can get my test done on InsideRadiology?

A.

If you have a referral for a test or procedure and are not sure where go, check with your referring doctor or other healthcare provider about your options.

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Q.

How do I become a radiology professional?

A.

Read all about the different types of radiology professions available and how you can become part of the profession:

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Q.

What is MRI?

A.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnetism and radiofrequency pulses that are detected by a radio antenna, processed by a computer and made into images (pictures) or data. There are many types of MRI scans, depending on what your doctor has asked to look at and why. MRI does not use radiation and is not known to have any long term harmful effects. Procedures involving MRI require that you do not wear metal objects that can affect or be affected by the magnets, i.e. jewellery, watches, underwire bras, metal fastenings such as zips, etc., including some makeup and hairspray that can contain minute metal particles.

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Q.

What is mammography?

A.

Mammography uses low dose X-rays to examine the breasts. Screening mammography is performed to detect breast cancer when it is too small to be felt as a lump and can reduce the death rate from breast cancer by detecting unsuspected breast cancer at any early stage when it increases the likelihood of it being successfully treated. Diagnostic mammography confirms whether changes or symptoms discovered in the breast are benign (non-cancerous) or indicate breast cancer, requiring further tests and treatments. You will be asked not to wear deodorant, perfume, lotion or talcum powder for your mammogram because these can show up as shadows on the images.

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Q.

What is nuclear medicine?

A.

Nuclear medicine is a branch of medical imaging that uses liquid radioactive isotopes (chemical elements or substances sometimes called a tracer) injected into your bloodstream. The body handles different radioactive substances differently when disease is present and the radiation emitted is detected by a special camera called a gamma camera and projected onto a screen. For more information see the Nuclear Medicine item.

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Q.

What is interventional radiology?

A.

Interventional radiology is a sub-specialty of radiology used to treat abnormalities of virtually every organ in the body. Interventional radiology uses minimally invasive (keyhole) procedures with usually only a small cut (less than 1 centimetre) made in the skin. A catheter (thin plastic tube) is then inserted into a vein or artery through which the treatment is carried out. Treatment may consist of widening narrowed arteries, delivering chemotherapy or radiation therapy to tumours, draining abscesses deep within the body, or relieving blockages in bile ducts and the urinary tract. Interventional radiologists also block abnormal blood vessels (with coils, medical glue, or small particles). If untreated, these abnormal vessels cause bleeding into various parts of the body (such as the brain, spinal cord, lungs, bowel, and abdominal cavity) that can progress to a severe disability or even death.

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Q.

How safe are X-rays (X-radiation)?

A.

The doses of radiation provided by diagnostic radiology are generally very small. This very small risk must be balanced against the benefits to the individual patient from having the test. These benefits can include detection of potentially serious diseases, like cancer, at an early stage when they can still be cured or controlled, or diagnosis of medical problems that if left untreated can cause serious illness or disease. Diagnostic tests can also show there are no potentially serious causes of a symptom, such as abdominal pain, which can provide great reassurance and peace of mind. While diagnostic imaging, including X-rays, is not useful when the probability of finding something wrong is extremely low, every X-ray examination should be looked at in terms of its expected benefits to the individual having the test or procedure. The information item Radiation Risk of Medical Imaging for Adults and Children provides a detailed explanation.

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Q.

My child is having a radiology procedure – do you have information specifically for children?

A.

Yes. There are 6 procedures written especially for children – Children’s (Paediatric) Abdominal Ultrasound; Children’s (Paediatric) Barium Meal; Children’s (Paediatric) Hip Ultrasound; Children’s (Paediatric) Micturating-Cysto-urethrogram; Children’s (Paediatric) Renal Ultrasound; Children’s (Paediatric) X-ray examination. These items have been written for the guidance of parents/guardians/carers of children who have been referred for these procedures. In addition, How can I make my child's examination less stressful? has helpful tips and hints on how to guide you and your child through their procedure.

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Q.

Have health consumers been involved in developing the InsideRadiology consumer information?

A.

Yes. All items on the Inside Radiology website were written by radiologists (specialist doctors) or other health professionals who are experts in their particular field of radiology. Each item has been reviewed by consumers with experience in writing medical information for consumers. The consumer writers suggested revisions to format, language or complexity (without altering critical medical or scientific content) to make them readily understood by consumers and these revisions were agreed with the original author.

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Q.

How do I find out how much a radiology procedure will cost?

A.

It is recommended that you ask about any costs when you make your appointment at the facility where you are having the test or procedure.

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Q.

What do I wear for my radiology procedure?

A.

It is best to wear a comfortable two piece outfit that is easy to take off and put on again because you may be asked to change into a hospital gown or to remove some of your clothing, depending on what procedure you are having. You will get changed in a cubicle and be taken to the procedure room so it is best to leave valuables at home or with a family member or friend that may be waiting for you.

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Q.

Do I have to keep still during a radiology procedure?

A.

Yes, otherwise it can blur the images or pictures and to obtain the best result they need to be very clear. Sometimes you will also be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds while the machine is scanning. The radiographer will give you instructions about this. It is important you are as comfortable as possible while on the scanning table. If you are not comfortable, let the radiographer know and ask them to help you get comfortable. If you are cold, ask for a sheet or blanket. You will be able to keep still easier if you feel comfortable.

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Q.

I am pregnant, can I still have a radiology procedure?

A.

It is vital you tell your own doctor or specialist if you are or may be pregnant because some procedures can affect the foetus (unborn baby).  Your doctor or specialist will refer you for an appropriate radiology procedure if it is safe to do so. You must also inform the hospital or radiology practice when you make the appointment and the medical staff performing the procedure if you are or may be pregnant.

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Q.

I am breastfeeding, can I still have a radiology procedure?

A.

It is vital you tell your own doctor or specialist if you are breast feeding. Some procedures involve a radioactive substance being injected into your vein that will take a few days to be eliminated from your body through your urine.  While it is in your body a very small amount of radioactive substance can be passed on to your child through the breast milk. Your doctor or specialist and staff where you are having the procedure will give you specific instructions, such as to express and throw away breast milk for a short time after having the scan, so that your child is not exposed to the radioactive substance unnecessarily.

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Q.

I am a very large person, does this affect having a radiology procedure?

A.

If you are a very large person or have very wide shoulders, please advise the facility where you are having the procedure. Some scanning machines have a hole or gantry in the middle that the scanning table moves in and out of and there are size restrictions. There is also a maximum weight limit for the scanning table that varies from machine to machine. Some facilities will do a “test table ride” before making the appointment to ensure you can fit in the machine.

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Q.

I am claustrophobic will this affect having a radiology procedure?

A.

Some procedures require parts of the body to be inside a short tunnel in the centre of the scanning machine and some require a camera to come very close to your body for a short period of time (although it does not touch it). If you are severely claustrophobic please advise the facility where you are having the procedure. It may be possible for you to be given a mild sedative to enable you to complete the procedure.

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Q.

What if I don't want to have the test done?

A.

You should discuss any proposed test with your doctor or specialist. There may be alternative tests your doctor can request that will provide the information needed to diagnose or treat your medical problem.

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Q.

I might have to stop taking my medication before a procedure. How do I know what ‘active ingredient’ my medication contains?

A.

The doctor who refers you for the radiological procedure should discuss this with you beforehand. When you make the appointment you can ask if the brand of medicine you take is one that should be stopped. You can also find both the brand name and active ingredient name on your medicine's packaging. Another quick and very easy way to check the brand name is to go to the National Prescribing Service's (NPS) website and type the active ingredient name into the search field NPS Medicine Name Finder.

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Q.

How do I judge the benefits and risks of any procedure I am thinking about having? 

A.

Each of the information sheets on InsideRadiology discusses the benefits and risks of the procedure. However you may wish to discuss your individual risk with your referring doctor and with the staff of the radiological clinic you are attending. These days, it is perfectly acceptable for consumers to discuss these matters so that they are informed and can make decisions they are comfortable with.

We suggest you look at the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare website:
www.safetyandquality.gov.au

Of particular interest:

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Useful Links

Other places you can find more information about radiology:

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Disclaimer:

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) is not aware that any person intends to act or rely upon the opinions, advices or information contained on this website or of the manner in which it might be possible to do so.  It issues no invitation to any person to act or rely upon such opinions, advices or information or any of them and it accepts no responsibility for any of them.  RANZCR intends by this statement to exclude liability for any such opinions, advices or information.  The content of this website is not intended as a substitute for medical advice.  It is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient and his/her doctor.  Some of the tests and procedures included on this website may not be available at all radiology providers.  RANZCR recommends that any specific questions regarding any procedure be discussed with a person's family doctor or medical specialist.  Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained on this website, RANZCR, its officers, councillors and employees assume no responsibility for its content, use, or interpretation.  Each person should rely on their own inquires before making decisions that touch their own interests.