FAQs

About Radiology, Our Radiologists and Quality

Radiology is the branch of medicine that provides visualization of the inside of the human body. These views help in the early diagnosis and treatment of many conditions. A radiologist is a physician who is a specialist in radiology. Radiologists work side-by-side with primary care physicians, pediatricians, obstetricians, surgeons, oncologists and many other medical specialists to determine a patient’s best treatment plan.

The field of radiology began in 1895 when Wilhem Roentgen discovered x-rays. Today this medical specialty includes highly sophisticated, computer-aided imaging technology for diagnostic procedures. Spectrum Medical Group’s Radiology Division is comprised of both diagnostic and interventional radiologists.

Each year Spectrum radiologists perform professional radiology services for approximately 600,000 procedures including:

  • 70,000 mammograms
  • 42,000 ultrasound exams
  • 30,000 MRI exams
  • 10,000 angiography procedures

As an integral part of the medical team, the physicians of Spectrum Medical Group’s Radiology Division specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases by obtaining and interpreting medical images. Spectrum radiologists have had four years of medical school with additional radiology residency training. Many of our radiologists have additional subspecialty training or fellowship training in areas including computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, pediatric imaging, nuclear medicine, neuroradiology, musculoskeletal radiology, breast imaging, and interventional radiology. All of Spectrum’s radiologists are board-certified. Our physicians are committed to providing superior-quality radiology services to our patients. This includes our regular attendance at national and international conferences, and participation in teaching program for doctors at Maine Medical Center and Eastern Maine Medical Center.

In addition to the attending radiologist, the radiology care team may include a radiology resident. The radiology resident, in training at Maine Medical Center’s Radiology Residency Program, is a graduate physician (MD or DO) who is pursuing additional training in radiology. Meet our current radiology residents.

Our physicians work hard to optimize Spectrum Medical Group’s continuous quality improvement program. Quality of care delivered to patients, physician and patient satisfaction, and improvement of the efficiency with which care is provided are very important to us and regularly reviewed. Our commitment in these areas sets the standard of care at the highest level and ensures the best possible outcomes for our patients.

We welcome patient comments and feedback as an important element in helping us to improve our services. If you would like to provide us with comments, we hope you will call, write, or e-mail us.


About Radiologic Studies

Diagnostic imaging tests provide valuable information for many medical conditions. By using non-invasive equipment, Spectrum radiologists can produce well-defined images that are important to physicians in developing treatment plans for patients. There are many different diagnostic radiology tests that a physician can order including plain film, fluoroscopy, barium study, MRI, CT, biopsy, ultrasound, arthrogram, PET, and nuclear medicine, to name but a few. Spectrum sub specialists perform a broad range of both routine and highly complex diagnostic procedures in the areas of:

  • gastrointestinal (digestive tract) radiology
  • genitourinary (urinary system organs and reproductive system organs) radiology
  • chest radiology
  • bone radiology
  • mammography (breast imaging)
  • neuroradiology (head, neck, and spine imaging)

A CT or CAT scan is a valuable, painless diagnostic test that allows radiologists to see inside areas of the body using special x-ray equipment. The CT scan obtains images from different angles around the body and then reconstructs those images, using computer technology, into pictures of the anatomy inside the body. Areas of the body that may undergo a CT scan include the brain, sinuses, face, neck, chest, abdomen (liver, kidney, pancreas, etc.), pelvis, bones, joints, and spine. CT can also guide biopsies and fluid aspiration and drainage.

A CT (computed tomography) scan is a noninvasive medical test that uses special x-ray equipment to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body and a computer to join them together in cross-sectional views of the area being studied. 
 
CT scans of internal organs, bone, soft tissue and blood vessels provide greater clarity than conventional x-ray exams.  

During the scan, a thin beam of x-ray is focused on a specific part of your body. The x-ray tube moves very rapidly around this area, enabling multiple images to be made from different angles to create a cross-sectional picture. A computer analyzes the information and constructs an image for our radiologists to interpret. 
Common uses

CT scanning is commonly used to diagnose problems such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, trauma and musculoskeletal disorders.   Your radiologist will decide if a contrast agent (contrast agents highlight your organs and blood vessels and help our radiologists see them better. In the past, most contrast agents contained higher levels of iodine. The new contrast agents available today have lower iodine content, which greatly reduces the chance of an allergic reaction and most of the discomforts associated with the injection).  For some CT’s the contrast agent can enhance the CT scan results.

CT imaging is one of the best and fastest tools for studying areas of the body and head as it provides detailed, cross-sectional views of all types of tissue.  It is often the preferred method for diagnosing many different cancers, including lung, liver and pancreatic cancer, since the image allows a physician to confirm the presence of a tumor and measure its size, precise location and the extent of the tumor’s involvement with other nearby tissue.  It is also used to stage, plan and properly administer radiation treatments for tumors as well as monitor response to chemotherapy.

CT imaging is an examination that plays a significant role in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of vascular diseases that can lead to stroke, kidney failure or even death. CT is commonly used to assess for pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lung vessels) as well as for abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA). 

CT can often be invaluable in diagnosing and treating spinal problems and injuries to the hands, feet and other skeletal structures because it can clearly show even very small bones as well as surrounding tissues such as muscle and blood vessels. Physicians often use the CT examination to quickly identify injuries to the lungs, heart and vessels, liver, spleen, kidneys, bowel or other internal organs in cases of trauma. 

Our radiologists use CT to guide biopsies and other procedures such as abscess drainages and minimally invasive tumor treatments.  We work with surgeons and review CT’s to plan for and assess the results of surgery, such as organ transplants or gastric bypass.

A PET (positron emission tomography) scan creates an image of your body’s metabolic activity and shows the rate at which your body’s cells break down and use sugar (glucose), use oxygen and looks at blood flow.  It helps to evaluate how well organs and tissues are functioning. 
 
This is done by injecting a small amount of radioactive material (FDG) into your blood stream and waiting for it to disperse to the area of focus. Depending on the type of nuclear medicine exam you are undergoing, the radiotracer is either injected into a vein, swallowed or inhaled as a gas and eventually accumulates in the organ or area of your body being examined, where it gives off energy in the form of gamma rays. This energy is detected by a device called a gamma camera, a (positron emission tomography) PET scanner and/or probe. These devices work together with a computer to measure the amount of radiotracer absorbed by your body and to produce special pictures offering details on both the structure and function of organs and tissues.

A CT (computed tomography) scan is a noninvasive medical test that uses special x-ray equipment to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body and a computer to join them together in cross-sectional views of the area being studied. 
 
CT scans of internal organs, bone, soft tissue and blood vessels provide greater clarity than conventional x-ray exams.

A PET-CT is a relatively new diagnostic imaging exam that combines the functional information from a PET scan with the anatomical information from a CT scan. When a CT scan is superimposed over a PET scan, doctors can pinpoint the exact location of abnormal activity. They can also see the level and extent of that activity. Even when an abnormal growth is not yet visible on a CT scan, the PET scan may show the abnormal activity.
What Are Some Common Uses?

PET CT’s are used in the treatment of cancer, to detect cancer, to determine whether a cancer has spread in the body, to assess the effectiveness of a treatment plan, such as cancer therapy, and to determine if a cancer has returned after treatment. 

They are also used to evaluate blood flow to the heart muscle, and to determine the effects of a heart attack on areas of the heart.  This can help doctors identify areas of the heart muscle that might benefit from a procedure such as angioplasty or coronary artery bypass surgery (in combination with a myocardial perfusion scan).

A mammography exam, called a mammogram, is used to aid in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases. A mammogram is an x-ray exam of the breast. It is used to detect and evaluate breast abnormalities, both in women who have no breast complaints or symptoms, and in women who have breast symptoms (problems such as a lump, pain, or nipple discharge). An analog mammogram uses x-ray films to capture the image. A digital mammogram is a newer method that uses x-ray detectors and a computer to create the image. From the patient’s point of view, having a digital mammogram is essentially the same as having a conventional film screen mammogram.

Computer-aided detection (CAD) systems use a digitized mammographic image that can be obtained from either a conventional film mammogram or a digitally acquired mammogram. The computer software then searches for abnormal areas of density, mass, or calcification that may indicate the presence of cancer. The CAD system highlights these areas on the images, alerting the radiologist to the need for further analysis.

Screening Mammogram

Mammography plays a central part in early detection of breast cancers because it can show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them. Current guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) recommend screening mammography every year for women, beginning at age 40. Research has shown that annual mammograms lead to early detection of breast cancers, when they are most curable and breast-conservation therapies are available.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) adds that women who have had breast cancer and those who are at increased risk due to a genetic history of breast cancer should seek expert medical advice about whether they should begin screening before age 40 and about the frequency of screening.

Diagnostic Mammogram

Diagnostic mammography is used to evaluate a patient with abnormal clinical findings – such as a breast lump or lumps – that have been found by the woman or her doctor. Diagnostic mammography may also be done after an abnormal screening mammogram in order to determine the cause of the area of concern on the screening exam.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, is a painless diagnostic test that allows radiologists to see inside areas of the body that cannot be seen using conventional x-rays. MRI scanners use a very strong magnet and radio waves to produce cross-sectional views in multiple planes. Areas of the body that may undergo an MRI include the brain, joints, spine, soft tissue masses, abdominal organs, and pelvis. MRA (Magnetic Resonance Angiography) evaluates arteries or veins throughout the body.

Neuroradiology is the specialty of radiology that helps in the diagnosis of diseases of the nervous system. Spectrum neuroradiologists provide a full range of services including MRI and CT of the head, neck, and spine, fluoroscopic-guided lumbar punctures, myelography, specialized angiographic procedures, and neuro interventional procedures.

Nuclear medicine studies provide information about the structure of an organ and, most importantly, provide information about organ function. It is useful in the early diagnosis and treatment of numerous medical conditions. In a nuclear medicine study, patients typically receive an intravenous injection of a minute trace of radioactive material that highlights the organs under review. A PET (positron emission tomography) scan is a type of nuclear medicine imaging that provides images that pinpoint the location of abnormal metabolic activity within the body. Other tests, called radioassay procedures, involve no radiation exposure to the patient because radioactive material is added to the fluid specimen after the sample has been obtained from the patient.

Ultrasound is a safe, non-invasive imaging technique that uses sound waves to produce images of the body’s organs. Since no radiation is involved, it is a safe procedure to evaluate anatomy in the abdomen, pelvis, neck, and blood vessels (Doppler ultrasound). Spectrum radiologists perform a full range of ultrasound testing as well as ultrasound-guided biopsies and fluid aspiration or drainage.

Ultrasound is defined as sound with a frequency greater than 20,000 Hertz, above the range audible to the human ear. An Ultrasound exam, or sonogram, is a safe and generally non-invasive procedure that utilizes high-frequency sound waves to image an internal body structure.

Common uses

  • Abdomen: Ultrasound can be used to detect gallstones, check the health of the liver, kidneys, pancreas, and spleen, and monitor the success of a kidney transplant.
  • Blood vessel: Ultrasound exams can reveal enlargements in vessels, blood clots or narrowing of arteries leading to the brain, which could result in stroke.
  • Pelvis: Ultrasound is used image the uterus, ovaries and other structures within the pelvis. It may assist in determining the source of pain or bleeding in the female pelvis.
  • Cancer: Ultrasound can locate lumps in organs and tissues, and can often distinguish the difference between fluid-filled cysts and cancerous tumors. It is frequently used to guide a needle biopsy (removal of tissue using a needle instead of surgery), and can be used to help detect prostate cancer and monitor treatment.
  • Ultrasound during pregnancy: Ultrasound is regarded as the Gold Standard diagnostic exam for monitoring pregnancy.

Spectrum radiologists are highly experienced in caring for children and do everything possible to make both the child and the parents feel comfortable throughout any procedure. Using state-of-the-art techniques and equipment, many tests can be performed without the need for sedation. When necessary, sedation is available. Spectrum radiologists provide children with the following diagnostic testing services:

  • x-rays
  • ultrasound
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • fluoroscopy, including GI (gastrointestinal) and GU (genitourinary / VCUG) studies
  • nuclear medic

General Questions

Your doctor’s office will provide you with information on how to prepare for your scheduled test, procedure, or treatment. In addition, general information on preparing for your specific exam is provided in the procedures section of our web site. If you have any questions, please feel free to call the hospital radiology department.

You should wear loose, comfortable clothing on the day of your exam or procedure. Depending on the exam or procedure, you may be asked to change into a hospital gown. You will be instructed beforehand if there is anything special you should not wear. For more detailed information about how to prepare for a specific exam, see our procedures section.

Rapid results are essential not only for your peace-of-mind, but also for your physician to begin planning your treatment immediately. We forward your results to your physician who will discuss them with you.

Please feel free to contact the radiology department at the hospital where you are scheduled to have your exam or procedure any time if you have questions. Click here for a list of our service locations located on our website.