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:

  • X Ray
  • Ultrasound
  • CT
  • MRI (including MRI Cardiac)
  • Image guided procedures (for example biopsies)
  • Interventional Radiology procedures
  • Nuclear Medicine

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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.

Who performs the x-ray?

A radiographer will perform your x-ray. A radiographer is a medical professional trained to perform imaging of the human body for diagnosis or treating medical problems. All clinical staff working at St Vincent’s Hospital are registered and accredited through the appropriate Australian industry bodies/associations.

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.

What do I need to bring?

  • Your Medicare card
  • Your request form (Doctor’s referral letter)
  • Any previous imaging scans that you make have had

Will I be given any medication?

X-rays do not require you to take any medication, contract or have an injection.

What happens following my x-ray?

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

When will I get my results?

A radiologist (doctor specialising in reporting the x-ray) will write a report. The x-ray results and report will be sent to your referring doctor(s).

Please contact your doctor to discuss or obtain a copy of these. Your results will not be available at the end of your x-ray.

Most x-ray films will be ready in less than 1 hour.

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.

Who performs the scan?

A sonographer performs the scan. A sonographer is a medical professional who has a postgraduate qualification in medical ultrasound. All clinical staff working at St Vincent’s Hospital are registered and accredited through the appropriate Australian industry bodies/associations.

How long will the scan take?

Most examinations typically take 30 minutes.

What do I need to bring?

  • Your Medicare card
  • Your request form (Doctor’s referral letter)
  • Any previous imaging scans that you make have had

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?

The sonographer will explain the examination to you and answer any questions you may have regarding the examination. 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.

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.

The examination can be uncomfortable as pressure is applied to the body via the transducer. Tell the sonographer if this pressure is too uncomfortable.

What happens following the scan?

A radiologist (doctor specialising in reporting the scans) will write a report. The scan results and report will be sent to your referring doctor(s). Please contact your doctor to discuss or obtain a copy of the results. Your results will not be available at the end of your scan.

A copy of your images can be provided on a CD if required.

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. Medical Imaging staff will be happy to discuss any concerns you may have.

Who performs the scan?

A radiographer will perform your scan. A radiographer is a medical professional trained to perform imaging of the human body for diagnosis or treating medical problems. All clinical staff working at St Vincent’s Hospital are registered and accredited through the appropriate Australian industry bodies/associations.

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.

You may be asked to fast (have nothing to eat or drink) for 3 hours.

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)

What do I need to bring?

  • Your Medicare card
  • Your request form (Doctor’s referral letter)
  • Any previous imaging scans that you make have had

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 jewellery 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 centre and a flat bed for you to lie on. Whilst you are lying down on the bed, under the control of the radiographer, you will slowly move through the doughnut shaped CT opening. Inside the CT opening is an x-ray tube that rotates while detectors capture the x-rays passing through your body while the computer translates these x-rays into images.

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. We may also ask you to hold your breath for a few seconds during the scan.

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.

When will I get my results?

A radiologist (doctor specialising in reporting the scans) will write a report. The scan results and report will be sent to your referring doctor(s). Please contact your doctor to discuss or obtain a copy of the results. Your results will not be available at the end of your scan.

A copy of your images can be provided on a CD if required.

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.

A Cardiac 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. Medical Imaging staff will be happy to discuss any concerns you may have.

Who performs the scan?

A radiographer will perform your scan. A radiographer is a medical professional trained to perform imaging of the human body for diagnosis or treating medical problems. All clinical staff working at St Vincent’s Hospital are registered and accredited through the appropriate Australian industry bodies/associations.

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.

What do I need to bring?

  • Your Medicare card
  • Your request form (Doctor’s referral letter)
  • Any previous imaging scans that you make have had

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.

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

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 jewellery 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 centre 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 whilst on the bed. Inside the CT opening is an x-ray tube that rotates while detectors capture the x-rays passing through your body while the computer translates these x-rays into images.

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. We may also ask you to hold your breath for a few seconds during the scan.

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 (if you are dehydrated).

Contrast can cause kidney damage, so you need to 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.

When will I get my results?

A radiologist (doctor specialising in reporting the scans) will write a report. The scan results and report will be sent to your referring doctor(s). Please contact your doctor to discuss or obtain a copy of the results. Your results will not be available at the end of your scan.

A copy of your images can be provided on a CD if requested.

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.

Fluoroscopy will expose you to radiation. Every care is taken to minimise the radiation dosage and the Medical Imaging staff will be happy to discuss any concerns you may have.

Who performs the scan?

A radiologist (doctor specialising in reporting the scan) and a radiographer (medical professional specialising in x-ray) will work as a team to perform the procedure. All clinical staff working at St Vincent’s Hospital are registered and accredited through the appropriate Australian industry bodies/associations.

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
  • Ever had a bad reaction to a previous x-ray
  • On regular medication as you may need to stop this medication before the test and current blood results may be required
  • Pregnant (or think you may be pregnant)
  • Any allergies (especially to medicines/iodine/contrast)
  • Take anti-coagulants or blood thinners

What do I need to bring?

  • Your Medicare card
  • Your request form (Doctor’s referral letter)
  • Any previous imaging scans that you make have had

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.

A radiologist and radiographer will perform the procedure. The radiologist will advise you of the medication required for your procedure and check that you were asked to stop taking anything that may affect medication needed for 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, unless the doctor tells you not to.

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.

When will I get my results?

A radiologist will write a report about your procedure. The scan results and report will be sent to your referring doctor(s). Please contact your doctor to discuss or obtain a copy of the results. Your results will not be available at the end of your scan.

A copy of your images can be provided on a CD if requested.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

What is an MRI?

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

MRI does not use x-ray, so it will not expose you to radiation.

Who performs the scan?

A radiographer will perform your scan. A radiographer is a medical professional trained to perform imaging of the human body for diagnosis or treating medical problems. All clinical staff working at St Vincent’s Hospital are registered and accredited through the appropriate Australian industry bodies/associations.

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 in as some medical implants or devices cannot be scanned safely with MRI. You must tell us beforehand if you have any of the following:

  • Cardiac pacemaker or defibrillator
  • Neurostimulator
  • Blood vessel stents
  • Aneurysm clips
  • Cochlear implant
  • Metal fragments in your eye (now or ever)
  • Pregnant (you think you may be pregnant)

If you are in any doubt, please discuss with the radiographer prior to your scan.

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

For abdominal or pelvic MRI examinations, you will be asked to fast (not eat or drink) for 4 hours prior to your scan.

What do I need to bring?

  • Your Medicare card
  • Your request form (Doctor’s referral letter)
  • Any previous imaging scans that you make have had

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

A special MRI device will be placed around the part of the body being scanned. You will be asked to lie down on the scanner bed. The bed will move into the scanner positioning the body part to be scanned in the centre. During the scan, you will hear lots of loud knocking and tapping noises. We will give you earplugs and/or headphones to wear.

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.

If at any time you become uncomfortable during the scan, you can ring a buzzer and speak to the MRI staff.

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.

When will I get my results?

A radiologist (doctor specialising in reporting the scans) will write a report. The scan results and report will be sent to your referring doctor(s). Please contact your doctor to discuss or obtain a copy of the results. Your results will not be available at the end of your scan.

A copy of your images can be provided on a CD if requested.

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) injected into a small tube once placed into a blood vessel 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 tumour and other diseases involving the blood vessels. Circulation problems are a common reason for an angiogram.

Angiography will expose you to radiation which is higher than a routine x-ray. Every care is taken to minimise the radiation dosage and the Medical Imaging staff will be happy to discuss any concerns you may have.

Who performs the scan?

A radiologist (doctor specialising in reporting the scan), a radiographer (medical professional specialising in x-ray) and a radiology nurse will work as a team to perform the angiogram. All clinical staff working at St Vincent’s Hospital are registered and accredited through the appropriate Australian industry bodies/associations.

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. So, we recommend that you plan to have no commitments for the day. You should also 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) for 4 hours 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)

What do I need to bring?

  • Your Medicare card
  • Your request form (Doctor’s referral letter)
  • Any previous imaging scans that you make have had

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.

The doctor will explain the procedure to you and ask for your consent to do the angiogram.

During the procedure, local anaesthetic will be used to numb your skin before a small tube, which you will not be able to feel, is inserted into you. You may see the images and talk to the doctor during your examination. At the end of the procedure, the tube will be removed and pressure applied to your skin until the bleeding stops.

What happens following the procedure?

After the angiogram, you will rest in bed for up to 3 hours under the supervision of a nurse to check that you are okay. During this time you will be able to eat and drink normally, unless the doctor tells you not to.

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.

When will I get my results?

A radiologist (doctor specialising in reporting the scans) will write a report. The scan results and report will be sent to your referring doctor(s). Please contact your doctor to discuss or obtain a copy of the results. Your results will not be available at the end of your scan.

A copy of your images can be provided on a CD if requested.


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