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Imaging

UT Southwestern Medical Center’s experienced radiologists use a wide variety of imaging technologies to diagnose, treat, and monitor illnesses and provide visual guidance during procedures.

Our dynamic and innovative radiology service is committed to achieving the highest standards of patient care and staying on the leading edge of new developments and clinical applications in the ever-changing field of medical imaging.

Many Ways to Look Inside the Body

Radiologic imaging is a noninvasive technology used to take pictures inside the body, often eliminating the need for exploratory surgery. The images can be used to diagnose, treat, and monitor illnesses and provide physicians with visual guidance during procedures.

UT Southwestern offers patients the full spectrum of both standard and advanced imaging technologies, including sophisticated modalities not available at other medical centers.

Our imaging technicians perform the testing, send the images to our specialized radiologists for interpretation, and, in many cases, deliver the results to patients and other involved physicians the same day. This quick turnaround helps us detect problems and begin appropriate treatment as soon as possible.

How Radiologic Imaging Works

To create radiologic images, different types of energy are directed into the body. That energy is returned as images, which can be viewed on a computer monitor or on film.

Patients can’t feel the energy enter their bodies, and it doesn’t leave any marks.

Some imaging studies require patients to be very still for a few minutes; others require patients to drink, inhale, or be injected with a contrasting agent (dye) to enhance the images.

Some imaging technologies use low doses of radiation. While the use of radiation can be a concern, the associated risks are outweighed by the information the tests provide to doctors and patients.

Specialized Imaging Services

UT Southwestern is home to a variety of specialized imaging services, such as:

Imaging Technologies

UT Southwestern offers a wide array of imaging technologies. Some are used by themselves; others can be used together. They include:

  • Angiography: A test that uses X-rays or fluoroscopy to show the blood vessels. Dye is injected into blood vessels to enhance the images, and a series of images (angiograms) is taken. Angiography can be used to look at the vessels of the heart, brain, head, neck, arms, legs, chest, back, or abdomen.
  • Bone density screening: An enhanced form of X-ray often used to diagnose osteoporosis and measure the effects of treatment. Bone density screening directs low-dose X-rays with two distinct peaks into specific bones. One peak is absorbed by soft tissue, the other by bone. Subtracting the soft tissue measurement from the total measurement tells how dense the bone is. There are several types of bone density tests, depending on the bones or body region being studied.
  • Computed tomography (CT): Integrates X-rays from different angles with computer processing to create cross-sectional images of the body’s bones and soft tissues. CT images appear as “slices,” which the doctor can view individually or in groups. CT scanning provides much more information than X-rays and has a number of uses. For example, it is used to visualize the abdomen, chest, urinary tract, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, pelvis, spleen, arms, and legs, as well as to guide needle biopsies. UT Southwestern also offers reduced-radiation CT scanning, which is faster, delivers one-third less radiation than standard CT imaging, and is easier for doctors to read.
  • Computed tomography angiography (CTA): Uses CT technology to visualize the blood vessels to evaluate abnormal narrowing or enlargement of blood vessels in the chest, abdomen, pelvis, and extremities. Our CTA techniques minimize radiation exposure while providing high-quality diagnostic images. CT angiograms are interpreted by interventional radiologists who underwent additional fellowship training in vascular interventional radiology.
  • Contrast radiography: Used to examine the organs using X-rays and a special dye (contrast).
  • Fluoroscopy: Produces continuous X-ray images on a monitor, similar to a movie, showing the movement of a body part, an instrument, or dye through the body. Fluoroscopy is used to see fractures, study blood flow, locate foreign objects in the body, and examine the skeletal, cardiovascular, urinary, digestive, respiratory, and reproductive systems.
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA): Uses magnetic resonance (MR) technology – not ionizing radiation – to look at flow through the blood vessels. MR angiograms are interpreted by diagnostic radiologists who are fellowship trained in MR imaging.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Uses a strong magnetic field and radiofrequency waves – not radiation – to produce detailed cross-sectional pictures of organs and tissues inside the body. During MRI, the magnetic field aligns the body’s water molecules, and the radio waves cause those molecules to emit signals, creating the images. The MRI machine also can produce 3-D images that can be viewed from many angles. UT Southwestern is home to the state-of-the-art Mary Nell and Ralph B. Rogers Magnetic Resonance Imaging Center.
  • Mammography: A low-dose X-ray used to screen for and diagnose breast diseases. During a mammogram, the patient stands in front of the imaging machine and positions each breast between two plastic plates. The X-ray energy passes through the breast, creating a digital image. Pictures are taken from different angles, and patients must stay very still as each image is taken. Some patients find mammograms uncomfortable, but they take only a few minutes. Mobile mammography brings mammograms to workplaces, churches, community outreach events, and other locations via a customized 18-wheeler. Please call 214-645-2560 for more information. 
  • Nuclear medicine/positron emission tomography (PET) (molecular imaging): PET and other nuclear medicine procedures use a radiopharmaceutical to identify abnormal metabolism – which can be associated with cancer – in soft tissue and bone. Combining PET with CT imaging can help precisely pinpoint areas of concern. UT Southwestern has its own PET Imaging Facility, where our specialists can conduct whole-body or organ scans to detect cancer in its early stages or to diagnose a variety of neurological and psychiatric conditions.
  • Radiography (X-ray): The oldest type of medical imaging, an X-ray is a quick procedure that passes energy into the body to take a picture of the structures inside. X-rays can be done on most body parts, such as teeth, chest, abdomen, and bones. 
  • Sonography (ultrasound): Uses high-density sound waves – not radiation – to produce precise images of the soft-tissue structures inside the body. Ultrasound imaging is used for a variety of diagnostic purposes. It is typically performed with a transducer placed on the outside of the body, but some procedures require placing the transducer inside the body.
  • Vascular ultrasound: Uses high-frequency sound waves to create images that show the rate of blood flow through blood vessels. Vascular ultrasound can be used to detect blood clots and narrowed blood vessels throughout the body, evaluate varicose veins, and identify candidates for endovenous (vein) ablation.

Images are interpreted by our interventional radiologists who have completed advanced fellowship training in vascular interventional radiology.

Clinical Trials

As one of the nation’s top academic medical centers, UT Southwestern offers clinical trials aimed at improving radiologic imaging.

Clinical trials can give patients access to leading-edge imaging technologies that are not yet widely available. Eligible patients who choose to participate in one of UT Southwestern’s clinical trials might benefit from imaging technologies years before they are available to the public.

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