Digital radiography (X-ray)

You can walk into SMI without an appointment to get an x-ray if you have a doctor’s requisition.


How does digital radiography work?

Digital radiography is a fast, safe and easily tolerated diagnostic imaging test that does not require any preparation. In this test, a very small dose of electromagnetic radiation (X-rays) is directed at the body in the area of interest and a picture is captured digitally. A radiologist, who is a physician specialized in interpreting medical imaging, analyzes the images at a computer, and provides a report to your physician.

Why is my doctor requesting a digital radiograph for me?

Digital radiographs are used to diagnose many different conditions. Some commonly examined areas are the chest, abdomen, bones, joints and spine. In the chest a radiologist can diagnose pneumonia, emphysema, heart problems or lung cancer. X-rays of the abdomen can look for kidney stones or blockage of the intestines. In the bones, joints and spine, we can evaluate for fractures, arthritis and other musculoskeletal diseases.

What happens when I get an X-ray?

A technologist will guide you through the test. You will be positioned at the X-ray table and a digital recording plate is placed in the table next to you. Sometimes positioning aids will be used to help keep you in proper position. A lead apron may be placed next to the part of you being examined to protect it from radiation.

You will be asked to keep still while the X-ray is taken. This will ensure that a good quality image is taken. Additional X-rays at different angles are taken to complete the test.

It only takes a few minutes to do the entire test.,


How does ultrasound work?

Ultrasound is a quick and inexpensive test that uses high frequency sound waves to produce an image of the body. No ionizing radiation is used. A transducer, or probe, that is held by the sonographer produces sound waves that are directed at an organ. Some of the sound is reflected back or passes through the organ, depending on what type of tissue it is made of. The reflected sound is picked up by the transducer and a computer creates an image of the organ. A radiologist, who is a physician specialized in interpreting medical imaging, analyzes the images at a computer, and provides a report to your physician.

Why is my doctor requesting an ultrasound for me?

Ultrasound can be used to scan the abdomen for gallstones, kidney stones, abdominal masses or aneurysms. Ultrasound is a good test to diagnose conditions in the uterus, ovaries, bladder or prostate. It is a good test for superficial organs like the thyroid, breast, lumps or bumps felt on the skin and joints. Ultrasound is very commonly used in obstetrics and can be used to date the pregnancy, check for the well being of the baby and check the baby’s development. Sometimes ultrasound is used for image guidance when invasive procedures are done.

What happens when I get an ultrasound?

You may be required to prepare for the test depending on the type of exam requested (see Patient Preparation). You will lie on a table and an ultrasound technologist will perform your exam. Ultrasound gel will be used to improve the contact between the transducer and your body, and the transducer is scanned over the area of interest using gentle pressure. Sometimes a special transducer is placed inside of the patient to get a close up view of the pelvic organs. The test can take between 30 and 60 minutes. A radiologist, who is a physician specialized in interpreting medical imaging, analyzes the images at a computer, and provides a report to your physician.


At Southmount Medical Imaging (SMI), we have a team dedicated to diagnosing diseases of the breast. Our radiologists are specialized and also practice at the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre and the OBSP.


How does mammography work?

Digital direct mammography is performed at SMI. It is a high quality breast cancer screening test. Low dose X-rays are used to create an electronic image of the breast. Digital detectors are part of the mammography unit and the images are stored and transmitted to a computer. The exams are interpreted by a radiologist specialized in breast imaging.

Why is my doctor requesting a mammogram for me?

Mammography is the best breast cancer screening test for most women. Regular breast cancer screening can find breast cancer when it is small. It can also be used to diagnose breast disease when patients have symptoms such as a lump, pain or nipple discharge.

What happens when I get a mammogram?

A mammography technologist will position your breast on a platform on the mammography machine. Gentle compression to the breast with a paddle is applied. Compression is important because it evenly spreads out the breast tissue so that all of the breast can be seen, small abnormalities can be detected, lowers the X-ray dose and keeps the breast still to ensure a high quality picture. At least two images of each breast are taken. Each image takes only seconds to acquire, but the entire appointment is approximately half an hour.

If you have an appointment because of symptoms or are recalled to further evaluate a finding from a screening mammogram, additional mammographic views may be obtained. Sometimes an ultrasound is also performed to work up a finding.

Bone Densitometry

Your doctor may request a test to screen you for osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is low bone mass, leading to fragile bones and increased risk of fractures. It can develop in women and men as they age. Bone densitometry can measure bone mass and help assess for fracture risk. This helps your doctor determine if you need medical treatment.


How bone densitometry works.

Also called dual energy absorptiometry (DXA), it is a special form of X-ray technology. The DXA machine delivers a low dose beam of X-rays with two different energies to the bones of the lumbar spine and hips. The two different energy beams are absorbed by the bones and soft tissues and the differences in absorption allows for calculation of the bone density.

Why is my doctor requesting bone mineral densitometry for me?

Bone densitometry is done to diagnose osteoporosis. Patients at risk for osteoporosis are women and men 65 years of age or older, or younger patients with identified risk factors including history of fragility fractures, long standing use of glucocorticoids or other high risk medications, smokers and certain medical conditions.

What happens when I get bone densitometry test?

You lie on a table with the X-ray source below you and a detector is above. When the back is measured, your legs are supported on a padded box to flatten your pelvis and lower spine. When the hip is measured, your foot will be placed in a brace to rotate your hip into proper position. The detector passes slowly over during the measurement to generate the image. You must lie very still during the test. It takes about 10 to 20 minutes altogether.