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June 17, 2024

It’s not hard to imagine why doctors and medical professionals value cutting-edge imaging tools. Thanks to detailed images from advanced tests (like the CT scan) doctors can quickly and accurately rule out or rule in everything from bone fractures and internal injury to life-threatening conditions (like cancer, heart disease, and so on). At GuideWell Emergency Doctors, imaging is everything. 

What kind of imaging do we offer?

GuideWell Emergency Doctors is well equipped with the latest imaging technology to treat patients (by walk-in or appointment) with the highest level of care. Rest assured, we have the same kind of advanced on-site imaging services you’d find at a hospital emergency room (ER), including:

  • X-ray
  • CT scan
  • Ultrasound

Modern technology meets medical know-how

You can also count on us for the medical expertise needed to interpret detailed images accurately. In fact, all of our physicians (Board-Certified Emergency Medicine Doctors) have had at least five years of ER experience before joining GuideWell Emergency Doctors.

Likewise, our certified technicians for both X-ray and CT scans (working alongside U.S.-based, board-certified radiologists) provide final CT scan reads in 30 minutes or less and final X-ray and ultrasound reads in 60 minutes or less.

At GuideWell Emergency Doctors, we’re committed to providing the same high-level emergency care as a hospital ER but in 1/2 the time1 at 1/3 the cost2 of an average ER visit.

What is a CT scan?

Technically known as computed tomography, a CT scan is a diagnostic imaging procedure that combines X-ray and computer technology to produce precise, detailed images of the body. 

During a CT scan, you lie inside a donut-shaped machine while a scanner spins around your body to capture precise, detailed images (from cross-sectional points of view). Each rotation is known as a slice. Each slice contains multiple detailed images. During a CT scan, a radiologist can look at the detailed images individually or use a computer to generate 3D images for analysis.

What it’s like to get a CT scan

Never had a CT scan? Take comfort in the fact that it’s a quick and painless medical procedure. Not only is a CT scan fast (much faster than an average magnetic resonance imaging or MRI scan), but it’s also considered a safe diagnostic tool, given that a CT scan involves tiny amounts of radiation — about the same amount you’d otherwise be exposed to over a three- to five-year period.3

What can a CT scan show? 

CT scans can provide detailed images of everything from bones and blood vessels to organs, muscle, and soft tissues. A doctor might order a CT scan for numerous reasons (such as confirming a bone break or identifying the source of internal pain). Of course, not every medical situation requires a CT scan. A doctor might well find that an X-ray is all they need to rule in or out bone fractures, for example. You might be wondering…

How does a CT scan compare to X-ray?4

X-ray technology is the most commonly used diagnostic imaging test. Even if a doctor suspects you’ll need more detailed images (through a CT or MRI scan), there’s a good chance, you’ll get an X-ray first. Technically put, X-rays use invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs (either on film or digitally). X-rays are a form of radiation. When electromagnetic beam pass through the body, bone and other densities block the radiation and look white on the X-ray (compared with less dense tissues that appear gray).

Simply put: X-ray vs. CT scan

X-ray CT scan
2D imaging 3D imaging
Mainly for viewing bones, cancer, pneumonia Mainly to see/diagnose organ and tissue conditions
Uses radiation to produce images More powerful than X-ray; little radiation involved
Common/widely used 360-degree view of body

What about a CT scan vs. MRI?5

Wonderful tools in advanced 3D imaging, CT scan and MRI scan technology both capture detailed images within your body. 

Unlike a CT scan, which uses X-ray technology, an MRI scan uses radio waves and a powerful magnet to create detailed images. 

Depending on a patient’s unique situation, a doctor may opt for a CT scan or an MRI scan. For example, a CT scan is highly effective for diagnosing stroke, blood clots, and internal injury (including fracture), while an MRI scan may be the best choice for examining damage to soft tissues or assessing the presence of certain diseases.

Simply put: CT scan vs. MRI scan

CT scan MRI scan
3D detailed images 3D detailed mages
Uses computed tomography (X-ray and computer) Uses radio waves and powerful magnet
Faster results (readily used in ERs) Longer procedure/wait times

Often used to diagnose:

  • Strokes
  • Blood clots
  • Tumors
  • Bone fractures
  • Internal bleeding/injury

Often used to diagnose:

  • Torn ligaments/tendons
  • Issues with soft tissues
  • Neck/spine, brain, breast concerns
  • Nerve conditions
  • Inflammation

Just like you’d find in a hospital ER, GuideWell Emergency Doctors is equipped with the latest in CT scan technology. If our Board-Certified Emergency Medicine Doctors feel that an MRI scan would be the best course of action for you, our caring team will be happy to help you get set up for an MRI scan at an imaging center near you.

In addition to CT scans and X-ray imaging, GuideWell Emergency Doctors also offers ultrasound imaging services. 

What is ultrasound imaging — and how is it used?

At GuideWell Emergency Doctors, we also use ultrasound (or sonography/ ultrasonography) to care for our patients. Ultrasound is a noninvasive imaging test that uses high-frequency sound waves to take detailed images (picture and video) of internal organs or other soft tissues. Unlike with X-ray, there’s no radiation involved. 

Most ultrasound tests are done using a device (transducer) on your skin. Some ultrasound procedures (like pelvic ultrasound) require placing a small device inside your body. 

Three main types of ultrasound imaging:6

Pregnancy (prenatal) ultrasound

A widely used form of imaging used to:

  • Confirm whether a patient is pregnant
  • Estimate how long a patient has been pregnant
  • Check fetal growth, position, heartbeat, congenital conditions
  • and so on…

Diagnostic ultrasound

There are a wide range of diagnostic ultrasounds to help doctors diagnose possible internal issues. They include:

  • Abdominal (to hone in on belly pain)
  • Kidney (to detect infection or obstruction, or a cyst or a tumor)
  • Breast (to view a cyst/tumor or get a better look at dense tissue)
  • Doppler (to monitor artery/blood vessel flow)
  • Pelvic (to examine the bladder, prostate, rectum, ovaries, uterus, or vagina)
  • Transvaginal (to explore reproductive tissues like the uterus/ovaries)
  • Thyroid (to measure thyroid size and possibility of glandular nodules or lesions)
  • Transrectal (to evaluate the rectum or prostate)

Guidance ultrasound

Ultrasound can also be vital in helping doctors precisely and safely perform procedures, including those that require guiding a needle. For example:

  • Drawing bodily fluid 
  • Performing a tissue biopsy
  • Checking proper placement (such as of an IUD or intrauterine device)
  • Performing wire-guided lumpectomy (breast cancer surgery)
  • Transferring an embryo (in vitro fertilization)

If it’s advanced imaging you need, you’re in capable hands at GuideWell Emergency Doctors.

With our on-site imagining, we can diagnose:

  • AFib
  • Bradycardia
  • Bone fractures 
  • Concussion
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Emphysema
  • First trimester pregnancy complications
  • Internal bleeding
  • Intracranial hematoma (ICH)
  • Pneumonia 
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Stroke
  • and well beyond…

Just like ERs, we offer EKGs, too:

Though not an imaging procedure, per se (since it does not take detailed images), EKGs (also known as electrocardiograms) are a vital on-site diagnostic test we offer at GuideWell Emergency Doctors. EKG is also one of the easiest, most effective tests used to evaluate the heart.7

During an EKG, electrodes (small, plastic patches stuck to the skin) are placed on the chest, arms, and legs. A patient’s heart activity is transmitted from those electrodes (through lead wires) to an EKG machine that monitors, measures, and prints out results.

A doctor may order an EKG if a patient is experiencing:

  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Rapid pulse
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue or weakness

EKGs can truly be a lifesaver by quickly diagnosing:

  • Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Arterial blockage
  • Overall heart health (and possible need for surgery or medication)
  • Heart infection (endocarditis) or inflammation (myocardium) 
  • Effectiveness of heart medication or pacemaker
  • Sign of previous heart attack

No one likes to think about having a medical emergency, but isn’t it comforting to know that when and if you do, you have an option that can save you time and money compared to a hospital ER? Providing ER-level advanced imaging services is one more way your nearby GuideWell Emergency Doctors is leading the way in emergency and urgent care.

(sources) data measuring timely and effective emergency department care by state compared to GuideWell Emergency Doctors’ visit data from 2023 showing time from check-in to discharge is 80 minutes on average.
2Cost is based on health plan actuarial analysis performed in 2021 that compared cost of hospital-based ER visit versus a GuideWell Emergency Doctors visit

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