Several options available for diagnostic imaging
It could be said that the first step to fixing a problem is identifying it. In order for your doctor to solve a problem they need to know what they are looking at. But how does your doctor know what they are looking at if they cannot see it?
That is where diagnostic imaging comes in. Diagnostic imaging is a term that encompasses a wide variety of services, all of which aim at giving healthcare providers a way to see a problem in the least-invasive way possible.
At UP Health System-Portage, Diagnostic Imaging is headed by Derrick Verran. Verran has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in radiological science and has been at Portage for the last 16 years.
“I am in charge of twenty-two full and part-time employees ranging from X-ray technicians to mammographers to MRI technicians and nuclear medicine technologists,” said Verran. “What [patients] are going to get here is exceptional care. That’s one thing that we pride ourselves on.”
Verran is based in UPHS-Portage’s campus in Hancock, but many diagnostic imaging services are also offered at the clinics in Houghton, Calumet, and Lake Linden.
Unlike many services offered at UPHS-Portage, individuals cannot self-refer diagnostic imaging.
“You need to have a doctor’s referral to have any type of diagnostic imaging performed,” said Verran.
Once a doctor has referred a patient to Diagnostic Imaging, the patient contacts the Scheduling Department, though this depends on the location of the doctor and on the imaging required. If the doctor and patient are already on the Portage campus, many tests can be conducted on the same day.
“The same-day [services] are quicker, noninvasive procedures. More technical things need to be scheduled,” said Verran.
This is not always the way that it goes, however, as the Diagnostic Imaging department at UPHS-Portage works with doctors who are not affiliated with the hospital. This benefits healthcare providers in smaller hospitals with more limited diagnostic imaging capabilities, but it also benefits local patients who see specialists at larger hospitals.
“Say a patient’s cardiologist ordered a chest X-ray. The cardiologist is in Marquette, and the client lives in Bootjack,” said Verran. “[The patient] could walk into the Lake Linden clinic with their order and be done within 15 minutes and their cardiologist would have a copy of the report within 24 hours.”
“All of our results are sent to the ordering provider. If there are any questions our staff are available,” said Verran.
Chest X-rays might have come to Verran’s mind for the example because chest X-rays are the most common diagnostic imaging conducted at UPHS-Portage. “You can tell a lot from a chest X-ray because they look at the heart and the lungs, the two most important organs to your body – besides the brain,” said Verran.
Chest X-rays can show a number of issues including unusual heart-size, lung abnormalities and other diseases.
“We see lots of respiratory infections in the area because of our winters,” said Verran.
Chest X-rays can be performed at any time at any UPHS location or Upper Great Lakes clinic.
Of course, that other most important organ – the brain – can also be seen using other diagnostic imaging services available at UPHS-Portage including CT Scans. These scans, another service available any time and any day at UPHS-Portage, can see the brain but they can also look at any other part of the body. They are often used to diagnose abdominal pain, which can occur for a number of reasons.
One diagnostic imaging service at UPHS-Portage that patients can request is mammography, a technique used to in early diagnosis of breast cancer. UPHS-Portage has more conventional mammography machines as well as a newer and more advanced 3D mammography machine. This more advanced technique reduces call-backs by as much as 40 percent and can lead to diagnosis over one year earlier than older methods and machines. UPHS-Portage also offers stereotactic biopsy. This procedure involves removing a portion of tissue with a needle rather than invasive surgery in order to test for cancer.
“We’re the only ones in the western U.P. that do this,” said Verran.
Another diagnostic imaging service offered by UPHS-Portage is MRI. They don’t have just any MRI, however. “We have an open bore MRI with a table limit of 550 pounds,” said Verran. “We could image anybody.” Individuals come to UPHS-Portage from around the Midwest and parts of Canada, according to Verran. The staff of the Diagnostic Imaging Department at UPHS-Portage also offer sedation for patients who can’t complete a conventional MRI.
Other more commonly used imaging technology used at UPHS-Portage include ultrasound. Most people hear about ultrasound most commonly in the case of looking at fetuses, but this is only one use. They can also be used to find blood clots and gallstones.
For more information about diagnostic imaging services available at UPHS-Portage, visit portagehealth.org/our-services/x-ray-diagnostics, or call (906)483-1410.
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