Medical Imaging

St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney Medical Imaging offers a range of diagnostic and interventional radiology services to inpatients and outpatients. Our Radiologists offer expertise and carry out all procedures using the lowest possible radiation dose. Some of our subspecialty imaging areas include Neuroradiology, Musculoskeletal, Oncology and Interventional Radiology.  

Please note: Mammography, Obstetrics and Paediatric Radiology services are not provided.

Services include:

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Further information

General X-Ray

What is an x-ray?

An x-ray makes images of the inside of the body. These images help doctors to diagnose and treat illness (such as pneumonia, heart failure, fractures, bone infections, arthritis, collapsed lung).

To make the images, an x-ray machine sends some radiation through the body. The radiation lands on a detector which makes an x-ray image. The image shows information about your bones, soft tissue (e.g. tendons, ligaments) and air (e.g. lungs). An x-ray does not hurt.

The dose of radiation that you receive from plain x-rays is quite minimal. It would take about 38 chest x-rays to get the same radiation as you would get in one year from the environment. Every care is taken to minimise radiation dose when you have an x-ray. Medical Imaging staff will be happy to discuss any risks and concerns you may have. 

How long will the x-ray take?

Most x-rays take 10 minutes.

How do I prepare for the x-ray?

You should wear light comfortable clothing without buttons, metal zips, buckles or hooks around the area being x-rayed. If you do so, you may need to change into a gown.

Please tell booking staff if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant. 

Will I be given any medication?

X-rays do not require you to take any medication or contrast (dye).

What happens following my x-ray?

You will be able to leave straight after your x-ray. 

Ultrasound

What is an ultrasound?

Your doctor has requested that you have an ultrasound examination. Ultrasound scans are performed for a variety of reasons and on various parts of the body. Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to form an image of the structures being examined. The image appears on an ultrasound monitor.

Internal organs such as the liver, gallbladder and kidneys; blood vessels, muscles and soft tissues are all examined using ultrasound. Ultrasound guidance is also used to perform some procedures such as biopsies and joint injections.

Ultrasound is safe and no harmful effects have been found when used for diagnostic imaging purposes. Ultrasound does not use x-ray so it will not expose you to radiation. 

How long will the scan take?

Most examinations typically take 30 minutes. 

How do I prepare for the scan?

Preparation for the scan depends on the area being scanned. You will be informed of any preparation needed when making the ultrasound scan appointment. Some examinations require no preparation.

What can I expect during the scan?

You may be required to remove clothing and wear a gown. A transducer is moved over the skin surface transmitting sound waves into the body tissues. A water soluble gel will be applied to the skin to aid transmission of the sound waves from the transducer through the skin into the body tissues. The examination can be uncomfortable as pressure is applied to the body via the transducer. Tell the sonographer if this pressure is too uncomfortable.

You may be asked to hold your breath to stop movement of the organs being examined.

If blood vessels are being examined (Doppler or Duplex Scan) the machine will emit a sound representing the blood flow in the vessels.

Computerised Tomography (CT)

What is a CT?

A CT (Computerised Tomography) scanner uses x-rays and a computer to take pictures of the inside if your body.

CT scans help diagnose specific conditions or disease. A CT scan is similar to a plain x-ray, but with CT, many cross-sectional pictures are taken if your body instead of just one picture. These pictures can then be manipulated to provide more information after the scan.

A CT exam will expose you to radiation which is higher than a routine x-ray. Every care is taken to minimise the radiation dosage when you have a CT.

How long will the scan take?

Most CT scans take 10-30 minutes depending on the examination.

How do I prepare for the scan?

You will be advised of any preparation when making your appointment. 

When making a booking, please tell the bookings staff if you:

  • Are diabetic
  • Have poor kidney function
  • Have allergies to any medications
  • Have ever had a bad reaction to a scan
  • Are pregnant (or think you may be pregnant) 

Will I need medication?

Some CT scans need you to have an injection or to drink a special dye called contrast medium. The contrast helps the scanner take pictures of inside your body. If you need an injection, a CT nurse will set up the injection into a vein (usually in your arm or hand).

The contrast used is considered very safe; however, we still need to be careful using contrast if you have poor kidney function or diabetes.

If you are having the contrast, there is a small risk of:

  • Allergic reaction, nausea, sneezing, vomiting, or itching and hives
  • Infection at the site of the injection

What can I expect during the scan?

You will be asked to remove all jewelry and items from your pockets. You may be asked to remove some of your clothing and wear a gown.

The CT scanner has a round opening in the center and a flat bed for you to lie on. Whilst you are lying down on the bed, you will slowly move through the doughnut-shaped CT opening. We may also ask you to hold your breath for a few seconds during the scan.

It is important to lie very still during the scan so the images will be clear. If you move, the images will be blurred and we may not be able to use them. 

What happens following the scan?

The radiographer will review the images to check they have covered the right areas and then will help you off the bed.

If you had the contrast injection, the nurse will need to remove the needle from your arm/hand. If you feel unwell, please tell a staff member as soon as possible.

Drink plenty of water to flush the contrast out of your body in your urine. You will not notice it as it is colourless.

Computerised Tomography Cardiac (CTCA/Cardiac CT)

What is a Cardiac CT?

Cardiac CT is a method of taking pictures of the heart and coronary arteries (the arteries the supply the heart). The CT scanner takes cross-sectional images of the body using x-ray. These images are put together and displayed using a computer and can later be manipulated to provide more information after the scan.

Cardiac CT detects blockages and narrowing of the coronary arteries to examine the heart muscle and valves. Your doctor can use this to assess coronary bypass grafts and stents. 

How long will the scan take?

Most Cardiac CT scans take between 30 minutes and 2 hours.

How do I prepare for the scan?

Your doctor may give you a drug to slow down your heart rate before coming for your scan. When making your appointment, we will ask you to:

  • Avoid caffeine (tea, coffee, carbonated soft drinks) for 24 hours prior to the scan
  • Fast (nothing to eat or drink) for 4 hours prior to the scan

Please tell bookings staff if:

  • You are pregnant (or think you may be pregnant)
  • If you have any allergies (especially to iodine)

If you are pregnant or have allergies, we may need to five you a protective medicine before the scan or perform a different scan. 

Will I be given any medication?

Cardiac CT requires and injection of contrast medium (dye) into a vein, usually in your arm or hand. Contrast makes it easier for the scanner to see the organs and blood vessels in your body and us used routinely for Cardiac CT. We will explain the risks, benefits and possible side effects to you prior to the scan. 

We may also give you a tablet or injection in your arm to slow down your heart rate or angina medicine to expand your blood vessels so they are easier for the scanner to see.

What can I expect during the scan?

You will be asked to remove all jewelry and items from your pockets. You may be asked to remove some of your clothing and wear a hospital gown.

The radiographer will put round stickers on your skin and connect your to an ECG monitor which will read your pulse for the scan. Additionally, the radiographer will connect the contrast injection machine to the drip in your arm to start the scan. The radiographer will tell you what will happen and what you need to do during the scan.

The CT scanner has a round opening the center and a flat bed for you to lie on. During the examination, you will slowly move in and out through the doughnut shaped CT opening. We may also ask you to hold your breath for a few seconds during the scan.

It is important to lie very still during the scan so the images will be clear. If you move, the images will be blurred and we may not be able to use them. 

What happens following the scan?

Your blood pressure and heart rate will be checked after the scan. If your blood pressure and heart rate are normal and you feel well, we will take the needle out of your arm and you will be allowed to leave.

In some cases, we may keep you for a while to give you something to eat and drink and/or to give you fluids through your veins.

After the scan, drink plenty of water to flush the contrast which will pass out of your body in your urine. You will not notice it as it is colourless.

If you feel unwell, please tell a staff member as soon as possible. 

Fluoroscopy

What is fluoroscopy?

Fluoroscopy, sometimes called screening, is done with an x-ray until to allow the doctors to view your internal organs or structures in real-time, 2D images (similar to a movie). Fluoroscopy is used to examine the gastro-intestinal tract, spine, joints, urology and minor operative procedures.

How long will the procedure take?

Most fluoroscopy scans take 30-60 minutes. Following joint or spinal injections, you should have someone escort you home.

How do I prepare for the procedure?

When making your appointment, you may be asked to fast (not eat or drink anything) prior to your procedure. Please tell the booking staff if you are or have:

  • Diabetes
  • On regular medication
  • Pregnant (or think you may be pregnant)
  • Any allergies (especially to medicines/iodine/contrast)
  • Take anti-coagulants or blood thinners 

Will I need medication?

You may be required to take contrast medium (dye), steroid or other medication.

What can I expect during the procedure?

You may be asked to change into a hospital gown depending on your procedure. 

During your procedure, you may be asked to lie, sit, stand or roll depending on the imaging requirements. If the procedure requires swallowing fluid, you will be asked to take a mouthful and hold it in your mouth until you are instructed to swallow. Procedures requiring joint injections may require you to remain lying or sitting in the one position for extended periods of time.

What happens following the scan?

After the fluoroscopy, you will be able to eat and drink normally.

Drink plenty of water to flush the contrast which will pass out of your body in your urine. You will not notice it as it is colourless. 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

What is an MRI?

MRI uses a strong magnetic field and radiowaves to take pictures of the inside of the body. It provides images of cartilage, bone, muscle, ligaments, tendons, nerves, discs and all soft tissue. 

How long will the scan take?

Most MRI scans take 20-60 minutes depending on the examination.

How do I prepare for the scan?

You will be given a safety form to fill out as some medical implants or devices cannot be scanned safely with MRI.

Please do not wear heavy eye make-up or any jewelry to the scan.

For abdominal or pelvic MRI examinations, you will be asked to fast (not eat or drink) for prior to your scan. 

Will I be given any medication?

In some cases, you might need an injection of MRI contrast (dye) required for certain examinations. The injection is usually through a vein in the arm or hand. If you have renal impairment, we will not give you a contrast injection.

What can I expect during the scan?

You will be asked to remove all jewelry and items from your pockets. You may be asked to remove some of your clothing and wear a hospital gown.

You will be asked to lie down on the scanner bed, and an MRI device will be placed around the part of the body being scanned. The bed will move into the scanner positioning the body part to be scanned in the center. During the scan, you will hear lots of loud knocking and tapping noises. We will give you earplugs and/or headphones to wear. If at any time you become uncomfortable during the scan, you can ring a buzzer and speak to the MRI staff.

It is important to lie still during the scan so the images will be clear. If you move, the images will be blurred and we may not be able to use them.

 What happens following the scan?

The radiographer will review the images to check they have covered the right areas and then help you off the bed. If you had the contrast injection, the nurse will need to remove the needle from your arm.

Drink plenty of water to flush the contrast which will pass out of your body in your urine. You will not notice it as it is colourless. 

Interventional Radiography (Angiography)

What is Interventional Radiography (Angiography)?

Angiography uses x-rays and a detector to take real-time images, like a movie. The doctor uses a special dye (contrast) to make it easier to see the images.

The images of your blood vessels guide the doctor in diagnosing and treating a variety of illnesses. These may include angioplasty (ballooning), treatment of tumours and other diseases involving the blood vessels. Circulation problems are a common reason for an angiogram.

How long will the procedure take?

The time taken can vary depending on the procedure. We will tell you on the day how long the angiogram will take, but you can assume 1 hour.

After the angiogram, you will need to rest in bed for up to 3 hours. We recommend that you plan to have no commitments for the day and arrange for someone to assist you home.

How do I prepare for the procedure?

When making your appointment, we will ask you to fast (not eat or drink anything) before the procedure. However, please continue to take any regular medication unless your doctor tells you not to take it.

Please tell the booking staff if you are or have:

  • Kidney problems
  • A heart condition
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • On regular medication
  • Pregnant (or think you may be pregnant)
  • Any allergies (especially to iodine/contrast) 

Will I be given any medication?

An angiogram requires an injection of special dye called contrast medium which will be injected. During the procedure, a local anaesthetic may be used to numb your skin.

What can I expect during the procedure?

We will give you a hospital gown to change into and a secure locker will be provided for your valuables. 

During the procedure, local anaesthetic will be used to numb your skin before the procedure begins. You may see the images and talk to the doctor during your examination.

What happens following the procedure?

After the angiogram, you will rest in bed for up to 3 hours under the supervision of a nurse. During this time you will be able to eat and drink normally. When you leave the hospital, you will be given an information sheet about the angiogram and what to expect post-procedure.

Drink plenty of water to flush the contrast which will pass out of your body in your urine. You will not notice it as it is colourless. 


Booking and Billing

  • Bulk-billing available where Medicare Rebate criteria are met
  • Out of pocket charges apply for certain investigations and procedures
  • When you make an appointment, our friendly staff will explain any preparation required
  • Reports are securely transmitted to your requesting doctor

Please send across a copy of your referral as this is needed to book in an appointment for you.  This will provide us with the information we need and help avoid any delays.

Contact

Email: svhs.mi@svha.org.au

Phone:  02 8382 1820

Fax: 02 8382 1821

Location: 390 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst (Use main entrance and turn left after the florist)