What is an imaging scan?
Imaging scans produce detailed images of your body using forms of energy, such as X-ray, soundwaves, magnetic fields and radioactive substances, sent through the body to create an internal picture. We use imaging scans to promptly detect and diagnose symptoms, assess your condition and evaluate how treatments are working so we can plan your care effectively.
Our expert nuclear medicine physicians, radiographers and radiologists use the latest-generation technology to perform and interpret the scans. As well as established methods of scanning, we also use innovative solutions to identify disease and plan your treatments, such as PSMA PET/CT for prostate cancer and fMRI to examine the brain.
You can read more about the scanning techniques available at GenesisCare here.
What is a CT scan?
A computed tomography (CT) scan creates a detailed image of the inside of your body by using X-rays to take scans from different angles. A computer uses the scans to create a 3D image for your doctor to review.
CT scans are used to diagnose many conditions, plan treatment (for example, to plan where to target radiotherapy) and in follow-ups and check-ups after treatment.
What is fluoroscopy?
Fluoroscopy uses X-ray scans displayed live on a monitor to create a video image of the inside of your body.
A contrast agent may be used to help provide a more detailed video image – this is a special dye that can be detected by the scanner which is either injected into your body or swallowed, depending on the area of your body being investigated. It can help show how blood moves around a particular area of your body or how the dye moves through your digestive system and urinary tract.
What is a mammogram?
A mammogram uses low-dose X-rays to examine your breasts. It can identify early changes in the breast tissue and cancers that are too small to feel.
It is used to investigate your breasts if you have found a lump or during regular screening. Screening is currently offered to women every three years aged between 50 and 70 by the NHS. Women who have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer or have tested positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene may wish to have a mammogram more regularly.
Types of mammography
- Contrast-enhanced mammography
Contrast-enhanced mammography is when a dye is injected into a vein that helps highlight particular tissues in the breast on the mammogram, such as very small tumours that are hard to see.
- Digital mammography
At GenesisCare we use digital mammography (also called tomosynthesis) to produce mammograms. Digital mammography is an advanced form of breast screening technology, which uses computer imaging rather than films to produce a scan of your breast using X-rays. This allows your doctor to review the images immediately rather than waiting for a film to develop.
What is an MRI scan?
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body. It’s regularly used for detecting and assessing a wide range of cancers, as well as many other conditions.
At GenesisCare we have both 1.5T and 3T MRI scanners. T stands for Tesla and indicates the strength of the magnetic field the scanner produces – 3T is double the strength of 1.5T and produces exceptionally detailed images. 1.5T and 3T MRI scans each have their own advantages for different situations.
What is an fMRI scan?
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) measures brain activity using MRI scans. It is an advanced imaging technique that shows up the areas of your brain that are responsible for vital functions such as speech and movement. It is often used alongside a similar MRI test called diffusion tractography, which shows the location of important brain pathways for speech, movement and other behaviours.
At GenesisCare, we use fMRI to help guide surgery when planning your treatment.
What is an mpMRI scan?
A multi-parametric magnetic resonance imaging (mpMRI) scan is a special type of MRI scan that gives a more detailed picture of the prostate in men who are suspected of having or have previously been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
An mpMRI will help your doctor identify if you need a biopsy, guide the biopsy, monitor your cancer and determine how large a cancer is and whether it has spread.
What is a PET/CT scan?
A PET/CT scan uses two types of scans – positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) – to create exceptionally detailed 3D images of your body. It is particularly useful in identifying cancers and predicting how they will respond to treatments.
In a PET/CT scan, a substance called a radiotracer is injected into your body which collects in different parts of your body and is detected by the scanner. Different types of radiotracers are used depending on the tissue being investigated.
What is a PSMA PET/CT scan?
A PSMA PET/CT scan is a type of PET/CT scan using two types of scans – positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) – and a special radiotracer to detect prostate cancer within the prostate and that has spread throughout the body. It is used if you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer to assess whether it has spread.
The radiotracer is a special substance that is injected into your body before the scan and is attracted to a substance in the body called prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA). PSMA is a type of protein found in high concentrations on the surface of prostate cancer cells, including those that have spread to other parts of your body. The radiotracer can be detected by the PET/CT scan, showing where the cancer has spread and also indicating how it may respond to certain treatments. These results provide extremely detailed information to help your doctor plan your care.
What is a SPECT/CT scan?
A SPECT/CT scan is very similar to a PET/CT scan. It uses two types of scans – single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and computed tomography (CT) to create detailed 3D images of your body.
In a SPECT/CT scan, a substance called a radiotracer is injected into your body which collects in different parts of your body and is detected by the scanner. Different types of radiotracers are used depending on the tissue being investigated. The kinds of radiotracers used in SPECT/CT scans release a different kind of radiation that’s detected by the scanner than the radiotracers used in PET/CT.
What is an ultrasound scan?
In an ultrasound scan, a probe which produces high-frequency sound waves is used to create an image of internal tissues and organs in your body, such as your breast, kidneys or abdomen. The sound waves bounce off the internal structures in your body and are picked up by the probe and converted into an image displayed onto a monitor.
Types of ultrasound
- External ultrasound scan
An external ultrasound scan is when the probe is placed on your skin and moved over the area being examined.
- Internal ultrasound scan
An internal ultrasound uses a probe inserted into the body to examine an area in more detail, such as the vagina or prostate.
What is a transrectal ultrasound?
A transrectal ultrasound is when a small ultrasound probe is inserted into the back passage to create an image of the organs in the pelvis. It is most commonly used to evaluate the prostate.
What is a transvaginal ultrasound?
A transvaginal ultrasound is when a small ultrasound probe is inserted into the vagina to investigate the female reproductive organs, such as the uterus, ovaries and cervix.
An X-ray is a quick an effective way of examining your body, most often for bones and joints, but also the lungs and breasts. Sometimes a substance called a contrast agent will be injected into your body or swallowed, depending on the area being investigated.
Types of X-ray
- Digital X-ray
Some of our centres offer digital X-ray scanning, which produces computer images rather than films to produce a scan. This allows your doctor to review the images immediately rather than waiting for a film to develop.
Search for a centre near you
Unit 710, Centennial Park, Centennial Avenue, Elstree, Borehamwood, WD6 3SZ
+44 (0)208 236 9040
The Park Centre for oncology, Sherwood Lodge Drive, Burntstump Country Park, Nottingham, NG5 8RX
+44 (0)1158 077 400