How to Prepare for Imaging Tests
The following are general guidelines for how to prepare for various imaging tests. You may be given additional instructions when calling to schedule your appointment. Please check with the doctor who ordered your exam to see if you should follow any additional specific instructions.
Please arrive at Mount Sinai Queens Imaging 15 minutes prior to your appointment time. You will be asked to complete medical forms and will be given a locker to store your clothes and belongings during your test. Please leave valuables, including jewelry, at home. Due to the high-tech equipment in use, some of the exam rooms are kept cool, so you may want to bring a light sweater or jacket that’s easy to remove. Please bring test prescriptions and all doctor-produced documents concerning procedure.
- How to prepare: You may eat and drink normally on the day of your exam. Wear loose, comfortable clothing without metal zippers, belts, or buttons.
- What to expect: You will be asked to lie on a table and to hold still; you may be asked to hold your breath while the X-Ray is taken. The test is completely painless and usually last about 10 minutes.
CT scanning is a non-invasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. It combines special x-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissue, bone, and other internal body structures.
- How to prepare: You may be asked to not eat or drink anything three hours prior to your test, especially if contrast (dye) will be used. Please inform your physician of any medical conditions you have, any medications you are taking, and if you have any allergies. Patients with kidney disease may require a blood test to evaluate kidney function prior to the exam. If your test requires intravenous contrast and you are allergic, your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce the risk of a reaction. Women should always inform their physician and CT technologist if there is any possibility that they may be pregnant.
- What to expect: CT scans are generally painless, quick, and easy. If intravenous contrast is used, patients may occasionally develop a warm, flushed feeling, a metallic taste in their mouths, or an urge to urinate during the scan – but these feelings subside quickly. The exam typically takes 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the type of scan ordered by your physician. After the CT exam, you may return to your normal activities. If you receive contrast material, you may be given special instructions.
- How to prepare: Please consult your physician about taking your medications and if fasting or any special preparation is required for your specific exam.
- What to expect: Our wide-bore MRI equipment provides superior images to open MRI, but the scanner is shorter and usually quieter, so patients are not completely enclosed and they feel less confined than with a closed MRI. Most tests last approximately 30 to 60 minutes. After most routine exams, you may return to your normal activities.
- How to prepare: If this is your first mammogram at Mount Sinai Queens Imaging, please bring films from previous tests with you to your appointment. Wear loose-fitting tops and bottoms (no one-piece outfits). Do not use deodorant, lotions, powder or perfume under your arms as these can result in inaccurate readings. Please eat breakfast or lunch before your mammogram.
- What to expect: You will feel some pressure as your breast is compressed. If your breasts are sensitive, you may want to schedule your mammogram when they are least tender. You will be asked to hold your breath while the picture is being taken. Most mammograms last approximately 15 minutes.
- How to prepare: Dress in comfortable, warm clothing, as some scanner rooms may be cool. Avoid wearing jewelry or clothes with metal fasteners and zippers. When making your appointment, please ask for specific instructions. Generally, patients are asked to drink six to eight glasses of water the day before the exam and to limit sugar and caffeine.
- What to expect: Upon arrival, the technologist will explain your procedure and answer any questions. You will receive an injection of a tracer dose of extremely low-level radioactive material, which has no side effects. You will be asked to wait approximately one to two hours before the scan begins. The scan takes approximately one hour, during which you will be required to lie flat on your back, without moving. A special nuclear medicine scanner will take images of your body. The scanner itself does not produce any radiation; it simply detects and records the distribution of the radioactive material in your system.
Upper GI series, small bowel series, and barium enema use a special form of x-rays called fluoroscopy to monitor the course of a solution in order to examine the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. As with all x-rays, women should always inform their physician and x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they could be pregnant.
- How to prepare: All upper GI and small bowel series exams must be done on an empty stomach. Therefore, you will likely be asked not to eat or drink anything (including medications taken by mouth) and to refrain from smoking after midnight on the day of the examination. For a barium enema, you will be asked to start a clear liquid diet beginning with breakfast the day before the examination.
- What to expect: During an upper GI series, patients drink barium while the radiologist watches on a monitor as it passes through the patient's digestive tract and obtains periodic x-ray images. An upper GI series or a barium enema is usually completed within 30 to 60 minutes. A small bowel series, which may be performed on its own or with an upper GI series, involves serial x-rays of the abdomen after drinking barium. A small bowel series may take two or more hours to allow the contrast to pass through the entire small intestine. After these examinations, you can resume a regular diet and take medications by mouth (unless told otherwise by your doctor), and you should be able to resume normal activities. You will be encouraged to drink additional water for 24 hours after the examination, For a barium enema, the radiologist administers barium into the colon through a small tube inserted into the rectum and monitors its progress on a monitor, taking periodic x-ray images. Patients may feel abdominal pressure or minor cramping, but most people tolerate the mild discomfort easily. If you receive contrast material, you may be given special instructions. After most routine exams, you may return to your normal activities.
- How to prepare: The preparation for an ultrasound scan depends on the type of examination you will have. For some scans your doctor may instruct you not to eat or drink for up to six hours before your appointment. For others you may be asked to drink up to four glasses of water one-half hour before the exam. Women should inform their physician or x-ray technologist if there is a possibility they are pregnant.
- What to expect: Once you are positioned on the examination table, the technologist will apply warm water-based gel on your skin and then place a wand-type instrument (transducer) over the area of interest until the desired images are obtained. There is typically little to no discomfort. Depending on the type of exam, the procedure will take 30 to 60 minutes. After the ultrasound exam, you can return to your normal activities.
- How to prepare: Most x-rays require no preparation.
- What to expect: You will be asked to hold still while the image is taken. Women who may be pregnant must inform our staff. Depending on how many images are taken, it should take no more than 10 to 15 minutes.