Florida Hospital North Pinellas is proud to offer our neighbors the latest, most advanced imaging services available. Among these are our state-of-the-art mammography services, including magnetic resonance (MR) mammography and digital mammography, both of which provide exceptional image clarity that allows for the quick and efficient reporting of results, as well as magnetic resonance imaging and nuclear medicine technologies and interventional radiology services utilizing positron emission tomography (PET).
Our full range of high quality imaging services includes:
- CT Scan
- Diagnostic radiology
- Interventional Radiology
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- Nuclear Medicine
- Women’s Imaging Services
- PET/CT Scans
Computed tomography (CT) scanning utilizes x-rays, detectors and computers to create images of a specific body part or a combination of contiguous parts. These images are acquired in axial (top to bottom) views, which can be manipulated into sagittal (left to right) and/or coronal (front to back) views. Because CT slices (pictures) are digital, they can be processed into 3D images as well.
Newer CT technology allows multiple slices to be obtained with each revolution of the x-ray tube inside the gantry. This allows for much faster scan times, making it easier on our patients. We offer 64-slice CT scanning technology at Florida Hospital North Pinellas.
The CT department offers a wide range of routine exams, including head, neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis and extremities. We also offer angiographic exams and invasive exams such as biopsies, tube insertions and drainages.
Certain exams require an oral contrast to assist in CT imaging enhancement. Your doctor will decide whether or not intravenous or oral contrast is necessary. At the time your CT scan appointment is made, your physician will notify you if you need oral contrast solution and how to obtain it from a local pharmacy.
X-rays are a form of radiation that can be focused into a beam. Unlike a beam of light, however, x-rays can pass through most objects, including the human body. When x-rays hit a piece of photographic film, they form a picture. Thick tissue in the body, such as bones, absorbs many of the x-rays and appears white on an x-ray image Less-thick tissues, such as muscles and organs, absorb fewer x-rays and appear in shades of gray. X-rays that pass only through air appear black on an x-ray picture. These images help our specialists locate potentially problematic (or healthy) areas inside the body.
X-rays may be used to generate pictures of the inside of the head, sinuses, extremities, abdomen, spine, bones, joints, female reproductive system, colon and gastrointestinal tract. In addition, arthrography uses a contrast dye to generate images of the joint capsule. In a hysterosalpingography, contrast dye is placed into the female reproductive system to help doctors determine its health. In a procedure called a myelogram, contrast dye is introduced into the spinal canal, and is then used to take images of the spine. Barium enemas and barium swallows, meanwhile are used to gather pictures of the large intestine and gastrointestinal tract, respectively.
Please note that several of these procedures require pre-procedure preparations, such as not eating or drinking for a certain number of hours beforehand or medication restrictions. Ask your doctor about any preparatory steps you need to take, or give us a call at (727) 942-5000 with any questions you may have.
Electroneurodiagnostics is the study and recording of electrical activity in the brain and nervous system. Technologists record the data on paper or computer to be interpreted by a specially trained physician, who then reports these findings to the referring physician.
Electroneurodiagnostics procedures include:
- Electroencephalogram (EEG): An EEG records the electrical activity of the brain. Highly sensitive monitoring equipment records the activity through electrodes placed at measured intervals on a patient’s scalp. During the test, the patient may be asked to take repeated deep breaths and/or be shown a strobe light that flashes at different speeds. Both activities can help reveal different brain patterns that are useful for diagnosis. In some cases, physicians also want to observe brain patterns that occur during sleep. These patients may be asked to stay awake most of the night prior to the EEG appointment or given a mild sedative. EEGs assist physicians in the diagnosis of a variety of neurological problems, from common headaches and dizziness to seizure disorders, strokes and degenerative brain disease. The EEG is also used in determining organic causes of psychiatric symptoms and disabilities in children and can assist physicians in determining the presence of irreversible brain death.
- Intraoperative monitoring: Patients having surgery on arteries in the neck or around the heart often have EEG monitoring performed during the procedure, providing the surgeon with additional information about brain function. Evoked potentials are sometimes used to assess nerve function during surgical procedures involving the spinal cord or brain.
- 24-hour ambulatory EEG: The ambulatory EEG records brain activity for 24 hours on a small tape recorder that is worn around the waist. Electrodes are applied to the scalp with a glue-like substance, and the patient is sent home with a diary to record his or her activities and any symptoms during this 24-hour period.
- Polysomnogram: A polysomnogram is a recording taken during sleep that uses EEG and other physiologic measures to evaluate sleep disorders. Patients usually spend one or two nights being monitored in the lab. A technologist records various data for interpretation by a specialist. The test is used to evaluate patients who experience excessive sleepiness during the day or who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night. Three common sleep disorders are sleep apnea, insomnia and narcolepsy.
Interventional Radiology (IR) is a radiology specialty in which a radiologist uses diagnostic imaging such as x-rays and ultrasound to guide small tubes through vessels or the liver to treat disease that would otherwise require surgery. The Interventional Department is made up of an interventional radiologist, interventional technologist, and staff nurses.
Recent years have seen considerable advancements in IR. We can now do procedures that would otherwise require surgery without a long hospital admission and recovery.
The IR procedures we perform include:
- Angiography: This exam of the arteries and veins aids in diagnosing blockages and other blood vessel abnormalities.
- Balloon angioplasty: This exam opens blocked or narrowed blood vessels through the insertion of a very small balloon into the vessel. This balloon is then inflated. This procedure is used to unblock clogged arteries in the legs or arms, kidneys, brain or elsewhere in the body.
- Biliary drainage and stenting: This procedure uses a stent (small mesh tube) to open up blocked ducts and allow bile to drain from the liver.
- Bleeding internally: Interventional radiologists can pinpoint the area of internal bleeding with angiography and inject a clotting substance, such as a gel, foam or tiny coils, through a thin catheter to stop the bleeding.
- Central venous access: This exam involves the insertion of a tube beneath the skin and into the blood vessels so that patients can receive medication or nutrients directly into the bloodstream or so blood can be drawn.
- Embolization: In this procedure, clotting agents (coils, plastic particles, gel, foam, etc.) are delivered directly to an area that is bleeding or are used to block blood flow to a problem area, such as an aneurysm or a fibroid tumor in the uterus.
- ESI injections: This is a common treatment option for many forms of back pain and leg pain. The relief these injections provide tends to be temporary, from one week to a year, thus allowing patients to progress in their rehabilitation program.
- Gastrostomy tube: This is a feeding tube inserted into the stomach for patients who are unable to take sufficient food by mouth.
- Hemodialysis access maintenance: This involves the use of angioplasty or thrombolysis to open blocked grafts for hemodialysis, which treats kidney failure.
- Infection and abscess drainage: Patients with a variety of illnesses, or who are suffering from complications of open surgery, may develop an area of persistent infection (abscess) in the body. The infection can be drained by inserting a catheter through a small nick in the skin and to the site of the infection.
- Needle biopsy: This is used to provide a specimen for a pathologist to test for various abnormal cells such as cancer. Needle biopsies can be done in CT and U/S. The most common are breast, liver, and lung biopsies.
- Radiofrequency ablation: This procedure involves the use of radiofrequency (RF) energy to “cook” and kill cancerous tumors.
- Stent: A small flexible tube made of plastic or wire mesh is used to treat a variety of medical conditions (e.g., to hold open clogged blood vessels or other pathways that have been narrowed or blocked by tumors or obstructions).
- Stent graft: Also known as an endograph, this procedure reinforces a ruptured or ballooning section of an artery (an aneurysm) with a fabric-wrapped stent—a small, flexible mesh tube used to “patch” the blood vessel.
- Thrombolysis: This procedure dissolves blood clots by injecting clot-busting drugs at the site of the clot. It is used to treat blood clots in the brain to reverse the effects of stroke, as well as deep vein thrombosis in the leg to prevent permanent disability.
- TIPS (transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt): TIPS is a life-saving procedure to improve blood flow and prevent hemorrhage in patients with severe liver dysfunction.
- Urinary tract obstruction: The ureter carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder. It can sometimes become blocked by kidney stones or other obstructions. The interventional radiologist inserts a catheter through a small nick in the skin and into the blocked kidney to drain the urine.
- Uterine artery embolization: This is an embolization procedure of uterine arteries to stop life-threatening postpartum bleeding, potentially preventing a hysterectomy. The same procedure is used to treat fibroid tumors, only then it is called UFE (uterine fibroid embolization).
- Varicocele embolization: This is a treatment for “varicose veins” in the scrotum, which can cause male infertility and pain.
- Varicose vein treatment: The saphenous vein is non-surgically sealed shut through the use of a laser or radio frequency.
- Vena cava filter: This is a tiny cage-like device that is inserted into a blood vessel to break up clots and prevent them from reaching the heart or lungs, preventing pulmonary embolism.
- Vertebroplasty: This is a pain treatment for fractured vertebra in which medical-grade bone cement is injected into the vertebra.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test that uses magnetic fields and radio wave energy to produce detailed pictures of the body. The MRI allows physicians to get information about the body that may not be seen in an x-ray, ultrasound or CT scan. The pictures produced in the MRI will then be read by a radiologist. An MRI can be used to find problems like an infection, tumors, bleeding, injury or blood vessel problems. Sometimes, an MRI is done using contrast, which helps the radiologist see abnormal tissue clearly. The types of MRI scans include:
- Head: The MRI can look at the brain for tumors, an aneurysm, bleeding in the brain, nerve injury and other problems, such as damage caused by a stroke. Diffusion-weighted MRI scans can detect a stroke only a few hours after the onset of symptoms. MRI scans can also find problems of the eyes and optic nerves, as well as the ears and auditory nerves. An exam called magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) provides a chemical analysis of brain abnormalities, which can aid in the diagnosis of various diseases.
- Chest: An MRI of the chest can look at the greater vessels, lungs and chest wall. A chest MRI is often used to provide additional information about disease processes seen on other types of tests.
- Blood vessels: A magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) is uses an MRI to look at blood vessels and the flow of blood through them. It can find problems of the arteries and veins, such as an aneurysm, a blocked blood vessel or a torn lining of a blood vessel (dissection). Sometimes a small amount of contrast material is used to see the blood vessels more clearly. With an automated moving table it is possible to scan the vessels from the chest all the way down to the toes in about 30 minutes. This test is non-invasive and does not require recovery time like a conventional X-ray-angiogram.
- Abdomen and pelvis: MRI scans can find problems in the organs and structures in the abdomen, such as the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys and bladder. The MRI is used to find tumors, bleeding, infection and blockage. In women, it can look at the uterus and ovaries. In men, it looks at the prostate. A non-invasive magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatogram (MRCP) can display the gallbladder and biliary ducts. A MRCP is used to look for gallstones that can cause blockages.
- Bones and joints: An MRI scan can check for problems of the bones and joints, such as arthritis, issues with the temporomandibular joint, bone marrow problems, bone tumors, cartilage problems, torn ligaments or tendons, or infection. An MRI can also tell if a bone is broken if an x-ray cannot. An MRI arthrogram is sometimes performed to better evaluate cartilage within the joint space. In this procedure one of our radiologists will inject a small amount of contrast into the joint before an MRI.
- Spine: An MRI scan can check the discs and nerves of the spine for conditions such as spinal stenosis, disc bulges and spinal tumors. A board-certified neurological radiologist will review the images.
- MRI breast: This procedure goes above and beyond conventional breast imaging, often identifying breast tumors that other exams would fail to detect. It is a new option for physicians when presented with a problematic mammogram or physical examination, or when anticipating surgery for breast cancer. At Florida Hospital North Pinellas, each patient’s privacy is a top priority, and patients can have a female MRI tech upon request.
During the MRI procedure, you can bring your own music CD to listen to, or you can listen to a favorite FM radio station. Your technologist will be observing you through a window throughout your exam, and should you need anything during the exam, feel free to alert the technologist via the intercom.
Please inform the technologist of any metallic foreign bodies that you may have from previous or recent surgeries—for example, pacemakers, dental work and hearing aids could all potentially have metallic content.
Nuclear medicine is a safe, painless technique that uses small radioactive doses (called radioisotopes) to diagnose and treat disease. Florida Hospital North Pinellas utilizes a special type of camera, an advanced GE Infinia model, in conjunction with computers to scan the body parts that are injected with a radioisotope.
Some of our nuclear medicine procedures require special preparations. These are:
- Hida scan: No food or drink for six hours and no morphine or Demerol for four hours prior to the study. This scan is done to view the gallbladder and see if the cystic duct and common bile duct are open and working. It takes a minimum of one hour and may take up to two hours.
- Dual-isotope cardiac stress test: No food or drink for four to six hours. This is a two-part test. You will be injected and rest images will be taken. The stress test is done with a cardiologist present. Both sets of images take approximately 20 minutes.
- Gastric emptying study: No food or drink for eight hours prior to the study. You will eat oatmeal that has a small amount of radioactive material. Then you are imaged for approximately one hour, as the camera documents how the oatmeal is leaving your stomach.
- Thyroid uptake and scan: Thyroid uptake and scans are performed as a two-day procedure. On the day of the exam you are given a diagnostic iodine capsule to swallow. Four hours later, you return to the department for an uptake and scan. The following morning, the 24-hour uptake is completed. This exam requires that you are not on any thyroid medication and have not have had any exams that used intravenous iodine-based contrast for a minimum of six weeks prior to the scan.
Procedures that do not require special preparations include:
- Lung scans: A lung scan is a two-part study that looks at airflow and blood flow to the lungs. This study is performed to look for blood clots in the lungs. The entire exam takes approximately 45 minutes. You will breath into a mask that contains a radioactive gas. After the ventilation study, you will be injected with an isotope to look at blood flow.
- Bone scans: In this procedure you are injected with a radioisotope in a vein. You then leave the department and return three to four hours later for the 30-minute scan.
- Liver scan: For this scan you are injected with a radioisotope in a vein. Pictures are taken of different angles of the liver. These images can usually be completed in a 30-minute period.
We also perform many studies that involve blood tagging and studies that look for infection or masses. These studies involve the injection of a radioisotope, and some studies require you to come to the Nuclear Medicine Department for a 45-minute scan once per day for up to four days. These studies include: gallium scans, indium scans and cisternograms. We also perform thyroid therapies using higher doses of radioactive iodine. These studies are done for patients with hyperthyroidism, as well as for patients with thyroid cancer.
Please note that isotopes used for nuclear medicine testing are ordered a day before the test and have a very brief timeframe before they expire and go to waste. If you have an appointment for a nuclear medicine scan procedure, it is very important to keep the appointment; if you are unable to keep the appointment, please call at least 24 hours beforehand to reschedule.
An ultrasound is painless and safe. It uses sound waves to create pictures of body parts. An ultrasound technologist will apply a warm gel to the skin, allowing sound waves to be sent and received from inside the body.
Florida Hospital North Pinellas is pleased to offer the latest in ultrasound testing with 4D imaging, which produces the clearest image of an unborn baby. This technology enhances the ultrasound image to have multiple dimensions. 4D ultrasound imaging can be used to more readily identify the unborn baby’s gender and multiple births. (Note: Most insurance plans do not currently cover 4D ultrasound imaging for prenatal purposes.) Please call for details.
Ultrasound tests can be used to capture images of many different internal body structures, including:
- Upper abdomen
- Superior mesenteric artery
- Renal artery
- Pelvis (including internal structures of the reproductive system)
- Carotid artery
- Lower extremities
- Upper extremities
- Chest (specifically, to locate fluid around the lungs)
We also perform several invasive procedures that rely on ultrasound scans; for these procedures local anesthetic is used. These include:
- Liver biopsy
- Thyroid biopsy
- Thyroid cyst aspiration
- Breast biopsy with clip marker placement
- Breast cyst aspiration
- Breast needle localization
Please note that for many of these studies you will need to abstain from food and liquids—taking nothing by mouth except medications using only a sip of water—for eight hours beforehand. In addition, for invasive procedures you should not take blood thinners for four to five days beforehand. Talk to you doctor about the specific preparations you will need to make for your exam.
Women’s Imaging Services
Women’s imaging services at Florida Hospital North Pinellas include screening and diagnostic digital mammography, as well as bone densitometry studies and ultrasound imaging.
Our Mammography Unit is certified by the American College of Radiology (ACR), which recently awarded us a three-year term of accreditation by this organization. The ACR accreditation is granted, following after a review by board-certified physicians who assess the qualifications of the staff and facility equipment, based on the achievement high practice standards.
In addition, our Ultrasound Department performs general diagnostic ultrasound exams, specializing in advanced obstetrical studies, such as 4D ultrasounds, as well as exams involving neonatal and fetal anatomy.
Some of the procedures we perform include:
- Screening digital mammogram: Screening digital mammography can be performed without a prescription for those over 35 years of age. The technologist will position your breast in the mammography unit. He or she will place your breast on a special platform and compress it with a paddle (often made of clear Plexiglas or other plastic).
- Diagnostic mammogram: A diagnostic mammogram is an x-ray exam of the breast in a woman who either has a breast complaint (e.g., a breast mass, nipple discharge, etc.) or has had an abnormality found during a screening mammogram. During a diagnostic mammogram, more pictures are taken to carefully study the breast condition. These exams require a prescription from the patient’s physician.
- Bone densitometry studies: This exam uses low-dose x-rays to determine a woman’s bone density. The bone density value is then used as a predictor of bone fragility and susceptibility to fracture. Measurements are taken of a set of points plotted on an image of the female hip.
- Needle localization: In this procedure, a specific area in the breast is localized to help the surgeon remove diseased or questionable tissue.
Please not that certain lotions or deodorants should be avoided prior to your mammogram because they can create an artifact on the image. Bring your perfumes and deodorants to apply after you’re done.
Florida Hospital North Pinellas now offers PET/CT scans. The highly sensitive PET scans image the biology of disorders at the molecular level, while CT scans provide a detailed picture of the body’s internal anatomy. PET/CT scans are available every Tuesday with a doctor’s prescription and an appointment.