Clear communication with your healthcare team is important to ensuring you receive optimal care and treatment. Your medical conditions, medication, and prior imaging history could impact decisions about imaging techniques to be used. You should tell doctors if you:

  • Are pregnant or may be pregnant
  • Have metal implants or shrapnel in your body
  • Have a pacemaker, defibrillator, or other implanted cardiac device
  • Are claustrophobic
  • Have allergies
  • Have heart diseases, kidney diseases, thyroid problems, or diabetes
  • Have received prior imaging or radiation therapy treatment

Your healthcare team will consider the potential risks associated with a procedure and weigh them against its benefits. However, it is natural to still have concerns. We recommend creating a written list of any concerns and discussing them with your doctor. Here are some questions you might want to ask:

1. Why is this test necessary?

Ask why the test is being done and how its results will affect your treatment.

2. Is this the most appropriate imaging method?

There are many different imaging modalities, such as CT, MRI, ultrasound, PET, etc., and there are pros and cons to each. Discuss with your doctor why a specific imaging test is recommended.

3. Are there any risks from my imaging procedure?

Some imaging procedures may involve the insertion of a catheter in your body. Some procedures may make use of “contrast agents,” which are substances injected into the body to enhance imaging quality. Ask your doctor if these or other actions will be taken and whether they may conflict with any health conditions.

4. Is there radiation dose? If so, is there any effort to minimize it?

Some medical imaging methods use low levels of radiation, and the amount of radiation needed for high-quality images can vary based on patient anatomy. Effort is made to keep radiation dose as low as possible for all patients, and modern scanners are usually already equipped with functions to do that automatically.

5. Can a prior scan be used?

Tell your doctor if you recently had an x-ray or a CT scan of the same area, and ask whether that scan could be used instead. Also, ask for CDs of your scans for future visits.

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