When you’re recommended for a diagnostic imaging scan like an X-ray, MRI, ultrasound or CT scan, you might not know exactly what it entails, how to prepare or what agents it involves. To feel more comfortable moving forward with your procedure, you want to do a little research.
An X-ray scan employs high electromagnetic energy to take an internal image of the targeted portion of your body, while an ultrasound collects data to make an image by transmitting sound waves through your body. A CT scan — or Computerized Tomography scan — is a special kind of X-ray scan that takes cross-sectional body images. An MRI generates cross-sectional images using radio waves and a magnetic field instead of X-rays. All three exams are used to scan internal organs, examine specific parts of the body, search for issues, and diagnose diseases.
In some cases, diagnostic scans require a patient to take contrast materials before the procedure to assist with the imaging. To give you peace of mind, simplify the details and educate you before your scan, here’s everything you need to know about contrast materials in diagnostic imaging scans.
What Are Contrast Materials?
Most often used in CT scans, contrast materials — sometimes referred to as CT scan dyes — are liquid pharmaceutical agents used to improve the body images taken during a scan by making your organs, tissue types, blood vessels or other parts of your body stand out significantly in the scan. By highlighting or “dying” specific areas within your body, contrast agents make it easier to examine the targeted organs and detect any issues.
Common Contrast Materials
Before a scan, you may be asked to take your contrast agent either orally, via injection, rectally with an enema or through inhalation for specific brain and lung imaging. Injection and ingestion are the most commonly used methods. Each type of contrast agent works slightly different. Here’s how:
- Ingested contrast materials: These agents enhance images of the pelvis and abdomen through the use of Barium Sulfate or Gastrografin. Patients will drink about 36 to 48 ounces of the material to fill their stomach and intestines for highlighted images.
- Injected contrast materials: Intravenous contrasts highlight blood vessels or enhance the tissue structure and appearance of various organs like the kidneys, liver, brain, and spine. The intravenous iodine agent is injected into the patient’s hand or arm and works its way into the bloodstream, circulating through the heart to throw the kidneys and liver into contrast.
Common Uses of Contrast Agents for Radiotherapy
Contrast materials are used in various types of diagnostic scans to detect and treat a multitude of health conditions in a variety of organs, including but not limited to:
- Performing angiograms in the brain or for detecting brain malignancies and abscesses
- Evaluating kidneys for stones, infection or injury
- Searching for blood vessel abnormalities
- Examining the liver for disease or damage
When it comes to reliable radiotherapy and diagnostic imaging, you can trust Adams Diagnostic Imaging (ADI) for expert procedures, compassionate care, and clear results. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.