Understanding Your Imaging Exam

Patients may want more information about upcoming imaging exams

(RxWiki News) If you're wanting more information about the imaging exam you're going to have soon, you're not alone.

A new study found that many patients desired more information about upcoming imaging exams, and many were not getting the information they wanted. This study of more than 1,400 patients, published in the journal Radiology, found that many sought information on their own.

As many as one in five patients may come to an imaging exam without information from their health care provider, according to the authors of this study. These researchers noted that many health care professionals who administer these exams are focused on reporting the results to patients — but not on informing patients about the exam itself.

If you're scheduled to have any kind of imaging exam, don't hesitate to ask your health care provider any questions you have. In the meantime, see below for more information about some common types of imaging exams.

CT Scans

Computed tomography (CT) scans are also commonly called CAT scans. Like all imaging exams, this test produces pictures of the inside of the body. Among many other uses, CT scans can provide cross-sectional images of the body that allow health care professionals to detect tumors that wouldn't show in traditional X-rays.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnets and radio waves to take images from your body without using radiation. MRIs can be used to diagnose a variety of conditions, including spine injuries, heart disease, cancer and strokes.


Mammograms are most commonly used to detect breast cancer. Using a low-dose X-ray, this test can allow health care professionals to look for changes in your breasts that could indicate cancer.


This imaging test is most commonly associated with pregnant women, but it can actually provide images of much more than fetuses. This test can allow health care professionals to see in real time what's going on in almost any part of the body.

If you have further questions about your imaging exam, reach out to your health care provider.

Last Updated:
February 23, 2018