Medical Imaging for Detection, Diagnosis and Treatment
South Texas Health System Edinburg has a variety of technologies to help look inside your body. Our compassionate medical imaging staff produces high-quality imaging using the most advanced imaging technology which are read by highly trained radiologists tailoring your exam to your specific needs and diagnosis.
Edinburg’s imaging department offers services for the whole family — from pediatric to adult. Those services require different equipment for different exams and the radiology technologists specialize in different modalities. This means another patient in the waiting room may have an ultrasound, CT, nuclear medicine scan or MRI and their wait times may be faster or slower than yours. A patient who has an emergency exam may go in front of a nonurgent exam.
South Texas Health System Edinburg offers a wide range of procedures, including:
- Computed tomography
- Nuclear medicine
- Digital mammography
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Interventional radiology
- Diagnostic radiology
- Swallowing function
- Surgical radiology
- Virtual colonoscopy
Comprehensive Imaging Services
The Radiology Department is in the new patient tower. The upgraded space offers comprehensive imaging services including 3T MRI, 640-slice CT, an interventional lab and a Women's Imaging Suite. Outpatient pediatric imaging is offered in the new tower. Pediatric emergency and inpatient imaging are still available in the Children’s Hospital.
Computed tomography (CT), commonly referred to as a CT scan, generates detailed images of an organ by using an X-ray beam to take images of many thin slices of that organ and joining them together to produce a single image. The source of the X-ray beam circles around the patient and the X-rays that pass through the body are detected by an array of sensors. Information from the sensors is computer processed and displayed as an image on a video screen.
If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, please check with your doctor before scheduling your exam. Your doctor can discuss other options which may be available to you for your imaging needs.
During a CT contrast may be ordered for your exam. The contrast media allows the radiologist to find areas in the scan which are abnormal and can be necessary for some exams. Please inform your personal physician and the radiology technologists if you have ever had a contrast reaction. Another piece of needed information is if you have problems with your kidney function. That way an alternate plan of action may be discussed with your doctor.
During a CT exam if you have IV contrast ordered an intravenous (IV) line will be started in the arm or hand for the injection of the contrast media. Please inform the technologist or nurse if one arm or hand is better to use than the other. You will lie on the CT scan table which moves into a large, circular opening on the machine. Various pillows and straps may be used to prevent you from falling off the table during the scan. These are for your protection. The technologist will go to the control room to make adjustments to your exam. That person will still be able to see you through the window and talk to you via speaker system. As the CT rotates around, you may hear noises which are normal for this exam. It is very important for you to remain still and hold your breath when asked during the exam.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to create clear, detailed images of internal organs and tissues. Since X-rays are not used, no radiation exposure is involved. Instead, radio waves are directed at the body. If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, please check with your doctor before scheduling your exam. Your doctor can discuss other options which may be available to you for your imaging needs. The best image quality is in the center of the magnet. This is why the part of your body that your doctor most needs to see is always placed in the center. MRI is often used to evaluate tumors and diseases of the heart, liver and bowel. Breast MRI is also available.
Many studies will require a small intravenous injection of a contrast agent. Please inform your personal physician and the radiology technologists if you have ever had a contrast reaction. Another piece of needed information is if you have problems with your kidney function. That way an alternate plan of action may be discussed with your doctor.
If you require anti-anxiety medication due to claustrophobia, please contact your private physician for a prescription. Please inform the technologist of the need for medication so that they can give you instructions on when to take your medication. You will need to make arrangements for someone else to drive you home after the exam. We cannot perform the exam if you do not have a driver with you at the time of your appointment.
Due to the strong magnetic field of the 3 T magnet, you must inform your personal physician prior to your appointment if you have any metal in your body. Detailed information may be necessary if you have any implant(s) in your body. Please bring your implant card which has the information required to see if your implant is safe for use with a 3T MRI. Failure to have the necessary information may delay your exam or reschedule or cancel your exam upon your arrival until further information can be obtained.
Advanced 3T MRI
South Texas Health System Edinburg offers the advanced 3T MRI system. The 3T MRI has a larger opening than traditional MRI machines, which makes it easier for patients who are claustrophobic to have a scan without sedation. The machine runs quietly, offers a quicker exam for patients and provides doctors with more detailed images.
This machine is the gold standard for Brain and Spine imaging. Because of the magnet, please let the technologist know if:
- You have a pacemaker or have had heart valves replaced
- You have any type of implantable pump, such as an insulin pump
- You have vessel coils, filters, stents or clips
- You are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant
- You have ever had a bullet wound
- You have ever worked with metal (for example, a welder or metal grinder)
- You have metallic fragments anywhere in your body
- You are not able to lie down for 30 to 60 minutes
Once in MRI you will be asked to completely change into a patient gown including removing your socks and donning hospital socks. We have lockers for your personal belongings. If you are having an exam using IV contrast an intravenous (IV) line will be started in the arm or hand for the injection of the contrast media. Please inform the technologist or nurse if one arm or hand is better to use than the other. You will lie on the MRI scan table which moves into a large, circular opening on the machine. Various pillows and straps may be used to prevent you from falling off the table during the scan. These are for your protection. The technologist will go to the control room to make adjustments to your exam. That person will still be able to see you through the window and talk to you via speaker system. As the CT rotates around, you may hear noises which are normal for this exam. It is very important for you to remain still and hold your breath when asked during the exam.
Because of the loudness of the MRI machine, you will be given earplugs to wear during your exam. We also can play music of your choice via headphones. It is very important for you to remain still for your exam. Depending on your exam the technologist may ask you to hold your breath for a short time.
3D mammography (also known as Tomosynthesis) is the most modern screening and diagnostic tool available for early detection of breast cancer. While standard 2D mammography produces a flat image, tomosynthesis creates a three-dimensional image of the breast – which results in greater accuracy and earlier breast cancer detection and a decrease in biopsies and recall rates. The machine takes an electronic image of the breast and stores it on a computer, allowing it to be enhanced, modified or manipulated for further evaluation. The images can be viewed on a computer allowing for improved means of transmission, storage and retrieval of images. This 3D imaging allows the images to be manipulated in numerous ways to aid in the identification of tumors.
3D mammography can provide significant improvement in breast cancer detection for some women. Specifically, studies have found enhanced detection through 3D mammography in the following groups:
- Women under the age of 50
- Women with dense breasts
- Premenopausal and perimenopausal women
Reasons to choose a 3D mammogram:
- Detects 41% more invasive cancers
- Reduces callbacks for a second look by 40%
- Has been approved by the FDA
- Is appropriate for all women
During a mammography exam you will be asked to remove your clothing from the waist up and any other clothing or jewelry that may interfere with the exam. You will stand in front of the machine and one breast will be placed on the X-ray plate. A separate flat plate will be brought down on top of your breast to compress it against the X-ray plate. You may feel some discomfort or pressure on your breasts during this process. This will only last a few minutes. This compression is necessary in order to flatten out the area and view any abnormalities. Please notify the technologist if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.
Special Savings on Screenings
To receive savings on special cash pricing at South Texas Health System Edinburg, click on the links below:
Bone Densitometry (DEXA)
Keeping your bones strong as you age is a smart goal. However, after age 50 this becomes a bigger priority. This is when weakened bones can lead to broken bones. Fortunately, there are options one can take at home, and with your doctor’s help a DEXA scan can be ordered to assess your risk increase of medical complications. A bone density scan, also called a DEXA scan, uses an X-ray to measure the bone mineral content and density. A DEXA scan produces a more detailed image than a standard X-ray which helps to identify fragile bones before they break. The DEXA measures the bone density of your spine, pelvis, lower arm and thigh. Please notify the technologist if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant. Also please let the technologist know if you have had a barium or nuclear medicine exam within the past 72 hours.
During this exam you will be positioned on a table, lying flat on your back. The X-rays will come from under the table and the X-ray detector will pass over you. The computer will calculate the number of photons that are not absorbed by the bones to determine the bone mineral content. The bone mineral density will then be calculated by a radiologist.
An ultrasound, also called a sonogram, uses sound waves to produce images of the soft tissues inside the body. A transducer, a device that acts like a microphone and speaker, is placed in contact with the body using a special gel that helps transmit the sound. As the sound waves pass through the body, echoes are produced and bounce back to the transducer.
By reading the echoes, the ultrasound can produce images that illustrate the location of a structure or abnormality, as well as provide information about its composition. Ultrasound is a painless way to examine the heart, liver, pancreas, spleen, blood vessels, breast, kidney or gallbladder, and is a crucial tool for obstetrics.
At South Texas Health System Edinburg, we offer general ultrasound such as gallbladder or abdomen, OB ultrasounds such as age of the baby, vascular ultrasound which shows the blood flow inside the veins and arteries and echo cardiac exams of the heart.
Intervention radiology is a medical sub-specialty of radiology utilizing minimally invasive image-guided procedures to diagnose and treat diseases in nearly every organ in the body. These procedures have less risk, less pain and less recovery time in comparison to surgery. Interventional radiologists have an additional six or seven years of specialized training.
Featuring the Canon Alphenix Sky+ system – a 3D interventional system – the new lab allows physicians to perform minimally invasive procedures through small incisions in the body while using diagnostic imaging tools to guide their procedures. Using high-definition, flat-panel technology, the device produces high-quality images, enabling clinicians to see finer details during procedures, which may be performed during an inpatient or outpatient visit.
Interventional radiologists perform a broad range of procedures, such as angioplasty/stent placement, biopsy, embolization, fluoroscopy and thrombolysis/thrombectomy. They also treat diseases of the vascular, gastrointestinal, hepatobiliary, genitourinary, pulmonary and central nervous system. We now perform the Y-90 which can help treat certain cancers.
Individual results may vary. There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. Talk with your doctor about these risks to find out if minimally invasive surgery is right for you.
Nuclear medicine is a diagnostic procedure that assesses organ function and metabolism. A radioactive drug is introduced into the body by various methods, most commonly via an IV. After the radioactive drug is administered, the exam may begin immediately, or it may be several hours or days later. In the case of several hours or days the patient is allowed to leave and return at the time the imaging is needed. Different examinations in nuclear medicine include: bone scans, brain spect, gastric emptying, HIDA scans (gallbladder) and lung perfusion. A cardiac stress test can also be performed to assess cardiac function.
The new nuclear medicine machines in the STHS system can perform this test in 15 minutes or less, much faster than the old machines, which took 45 minutes or longer.
An X-ray image is produced when a small amount of radiation passes through the body to create an image on sensitive digital plates on the other side of the body. The ability of X-rays to penetrate tissues and bones depends on the tissue's composition and mass, and the difference between these two elements creates the image.
Fluoroscopy is a type of imaging exam that allows the clinician to view organs and other structures while in motion. It is similar to an X-ray, however, instead of a "picture” the fluoroscopy is a “live” continual moving image of the area in question, like a movie. This type of exam uses contrast agents, such as barium, which may be swallowed to outline the esophagus, stomach and intestines to help provide better images of an organ.
Find a Doctor
To find a doctor that's right for you, call the South Texas Health System Reserve and Learn line at 800-879-1033.