From Bats to CATs: What You Don’t Know About Imaging!

Nuclear Medicine ScanWe often don’t give much thought to the forces around us … gravity, electromagnetic fields, sound waves, light, radio waves, radiation. But the discovery and study of these natural forces, and our own creativity, led to the development of one of the most important fields of medicine today:

Diagnostic Imaging
Most of us know someone, or may be someone, who has had at least one diagnostic imaging study: an MRI, CT Scan, X-ray, Ultrasound, or Nuclear Medicine study. At Lexington Diagnostic Center & Open MRI, we know how important our imaging services are to our patients and their doctors. But how did we arrive at today’s use of modern medical technology? You might be surprised!

Discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Roentgen of Würzburg, Germany, we started to use x-rays in the U.S. within just a few months. By the outbreak of World War I in 1914, most hospitals were equipped with x-ray machines. The ability to locate bullet fragments in soldiers became a crucial tool for saving their lives.

The general x-ray is the workhorse of diagnostic imaging and are frequently used to diagnose broken bones and other musculoskeletal conditions. Although x-rays pass through the soft tissues of the body rather easily, they are also useful in diagnosing conditions of internal organs, including the lungs (pneumonia, TB, cancer), breasts (cancer), abdomen (digestive disorders), heart (enlargement) and pelvis (reproductive disorders). A general diagnostic x-ray can help your physician make an informed decision about additional imaging or testing to aid in a diagnosis. Ultrasound Way back in the 1790’s, Italian biologist Lazzaro Spallanzani’s first studied ultrasound physics when he discovered that bats use soundwaves to navigate in the dark (echolocation). It took some time, but the idea to measure soundwaves eventually led to the development of the medical ultrasound, first used in 1956.

The principle behind ultrasound is pretty simple – specialized equipment detects changes in high-frequency soundwaves as they pass through the body and are reflected back. A picture is built based on those changes.

Ultrasound can also capture the actual functioning of organs in real time. For example, a cardiac ultrasound allows the physician to see blood passing through the chambers of the heart, to measure the force of the blood as it leaves the heart, and to look at the heart’s valves as they open and close. Your doctor might order a cardiac ultrasound if you have symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pains, or a murmur.

Ultrasound is the second-most commonly used diagnostic imaging procedure. It is useful for diagnosing problems of the urinary tract, gall bladder, kidney, liver, ovaries, pancreas, spleen, thyroid, uterus and blood vessels. A carotid ultrasound (and Doppler) can help physicians diagnose blocked arteries before a stroke occurs. Ultrasound involves no radiation exposure Nuclear Medicine
When we think “nuclear”, our minds may go to weapons or power plants. In fact, nuclear medicine is an important and unique tool in the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases. The development of nuclear medicine spans decades and includes contributions from scientists, physicists, and engineers.

Nuclear medicine uses small amounts of radioactive substances – or “radiotracers” – to get a picture of a particular area of the body. For example, radioactive iodine-125 tends to go to the thyroid gland. Measuring the thyroid’s “uptake” of this radioactive substance allows doctors to see how the gland is functioning. In addition to the thyroid, nuclear medicine can be used to study conditions of the bones, heart, lungs, liver, and many other internal organs.

Nuclear medicine studies involve an injection or an oral dose of radiation and then imaging collects the resulting data. These procedures are extremely safe and very simple. Nuclear medicine studies measure the function of the organ or structure and, because of this, often shows abnormalities much earlier than other forms of imaging.

CT Scan (AKA the “Cat Scan”)
The first clinical CT scan was performed on October 1, 1971 on a young lady in London, England who doctors suspected of having a brain tumor. The scan took hours to complete, but launched a new era of modern neuroimaging. Short for Computerized Axial Tomography, today’s CT scans use computer equipment and x-ray technology to create incredibly detailed, three-dimensional images quickly and comfortably. CT scans are often used in emergencies because the scan takes less than five minutes, compared to up to 30 minutes for an MRI.

The use of CT scans is on the rise, possibly because the public is increasingly aware of the signs of a stroke. Because patients are more knowledgeable than before, they’re arriving at the ER earlier in the stroke scenario, when the most can be done for them. As a result, more CT scans are being ordered so physicians can start the right treatment quickly.

CTs can also be ordered to diagnose back and spine problems, brain tumors and joint disease. An imaging procedure, called the Low Dose CT (LDCT) has recently been approved by Medicare/Medicaid as a tool for the early detection of lung cancer. This is a very promising step forward in turning the tide on this cancer. A CT scan is a powerful tool as it provides a wealth of information. However, a CT scan does expose the patient to relatively higher doses of radiation, so it’s important for you and your doctor to balance risks with benefits.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI
When Dr. Raymond Damadian was a boy growing up in New York, his grandmother lost her painful battle with breast cancer, fueling his pursuit of a career in medical research. Dr. Damadian would eventually invent the MRI machine, which was first used to perform a full-body scan in 1977.

MRI works by using a very powerful magnet to align the hydrogen atoms inside the body. Radio waves are then used to disturb this alignment, causing the atoms to vibrate. Highly advanced computer programs generate detailed images from the vibrations. Like CT scans, detailed, three-dimensional views are available with an MRI. Unlike CT, there is no radiation exposure.

MRIs are used to diagnose a variety of disorders, including tumors, aneurysms, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, eye and inner ear problems. A form of MRI, called fMRI (functional MRI), can measure brain function. For example a head MRI can help determine whether you sustained any damage from a head injury. Your doctor may order a head MRI to investigate symptoms such as dizziness, weakness, seizures, changes in thinking or behavior, blurry vision, or chronic headaches.

Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI has three MRI machines:
• Open. This equipment is very comfortable and open on 3 sides. It is an excellent option for patients who may be claustrophobic, and it can accommodate various body types.
• 1.5T. This fast-acting machine is open at both ends and provides high-quality images.
• 3T. The 3T is also open at both ends, offers very high resolution, and is excellent for orthopedic, neuro and prostate imaging.

Many brilliant minds and historical events lead to today’s options for life-saving imaging. Discuss the options with your doctor next time you need a scan, and remember that you have a choice of where to have imaging performed.  Lexington Diagnostic Center & Open MRI provides quality, state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging. We offer affordable MRI, CT, ultrasound, DEXA/Bone Density Scans, x-ray and imaged guided fluoroscopy epidural and joint injections.

PACS Portal System Offers Quality, Security, Accessibility

Lexington Diagnostic Center’s PACS Portal System Offers Quality

They were pictures of first birthdays, graduations, vacations, home renovations, the dog catching a Frisbee … things that mattered to you in the moment. You likely shared a good number of them on Instagram or Facebook, but at least half of the photos you took were never printed or backed up.

Five years from now, you will be lucky if you can find that photo of little William destroying his first birthday cake. Even if you can, there is no guarantee the technology will be compatible.

So imagine the headache it would be if you took tens of thousands of images every year, could never delete them, and lives depended upon them being accessible a moment’s notice.

Welcome to the world of medical imaging.
Imaging studies – X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, etc. – are the lifeblood of modern medicine. Millions of diagnostic studies are performed in the U.S. each year, generating multiple images, each of which must be reviewed by a radiologist (the physician who specializes in interpreting medical images); permanently stored; and made accessible to the healthcare provider responsible for the patient’s care. All of this has to be available not just today, but for months and years into the future, and not just in Lexington, but anywhere the patient might seek care.

The system that makes all of this possible is called PACS – Picture Archiving and Communications System. Since 1996, Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI has been on the forefront of adopting digital imaging and using PACS to ensure imaging studies are accessible, when needed, wherever needed.

Tim Valenta, IT manager at Lexington Diagnostic Center, is responsible for ensuring all is well with the PACS system. “Many people are relying on the images we capture at Lexington Diagnostic Center to make important decisions about treatment, and those images have to be available to them 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Valenta said. “It’s a responsibility I take very seriously.”

PACS is about more than just storing images and radiologists’ reports, Valenta notes. Digital imaging and PACS have led to improvements in diagnosis and treatment, patient outcomes, speed, convenience and much more.

“It’s rather like the difference between a bicycle and a motorcycle,” Valenta said. Both will get you to where you need to go, but the motorcycle will get you there faster, with a lot less effort. Gone are the plates, films and chemicals needed to process the film. Gone are the dusty film storage rooms and cumbersome retrieval methods. Today, referring physicians can retrieve a patient’s study quickly over a secure Internet connection and patients leave LDC with a disc containing all of the images from their study.

Quality has improved, too. Just like the photos you take with your iPhone, sophisticated software allows the digital images to be enhanced. The radiologist can zoom in for a closer look at a particular segment of the image; change the brightness and contrast; take accurate measurements of structures; and, depending on the imaging modality, add color or create three-dimensional images.

“All of this has led to great improvements in the ability to detect changes indicative of disease or injury,” Valenta noted. Lexington Diagnostic Center began archiving its studies digitally in 1996, ensuring continuity from then to now.

The format used to store these medical images is called DICOM (Digital Imaging Communications in Medicine). The DICOM standard ensures that images captured at Lexington Diagnostic Center can be viewed at nearly any healthcare facility anywhere in the world, including a hospital in Lexington, Myrtle Beach or even London, England.

This is reassuring for patients who travel a lot or who winter in another part of the country, Valenta noted, because patients know should something happen with their health, prior imaging studies are only a few clicks away via our secure provider portal.

Accessible … yet very secure
Keeping health information accessible to those who have a legitimate need to access it, and safe from those who do not – is a top priority at Lexington Diagnostic Center, Valenta said.

A U.S. Navy Veteran who served as an electronics technician aboard a nuclear sub, Valenta knows about security. “Our systems are top-notch,” he said. “The internal network is constantly audited access restricted to only those people who need to have access to provide care to that particular patient at that particular moment.”

Referring physicians and providers can access imaging studies only through LDC’s secure provider portal and only after being granted access. Lexington Diagnostic meets both federal HIPAA and HIM guidelines, Valenta noted.

It is a big responsibility, but one that the entire staff at Lexington Diagnostic Center takes to heart. “Every single member of our team is committed not only to providing the highest quality of imaging studies, but to protecting our patients’ privacy and health information,” Valenta noted.

Terms to Know
PACS – Picture Archiving and Communication Systems. The platform for storing and communicating digital images within a radiology practice, department or hospital.

DICOM – Digital Imaging Communications in Medicine. The “language” used to store and communicate medical images.

EHR/EMR – Electronic Health/Medical Record. The “electronic file” that contains all of a patient’s health information, including outpatient tests and treatments, office visits, hospitalizations, etc.

HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The federal law, passed in 1996, that both ensures that people are able to acquire health insurance as they change jobs (portability) regardless of existing medical conditions and protects the privacy of their health information. HIPAA established national standards for electronic healthcare transactions.

PHI – Personal Health Information or Protected Health Information. The information identified by the federal government to protected from unauthorized disclosure.

HIM – Health Information Management – The process of acquiring, analyzing and protecting digital and traditional medical information vital to providing quality patient care.

Meet Tim Valenta
The IT manager at Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI, Tim Valenta is a native of Minneapolis, Minn. He joined the U.S. Navy after graduating high school in American Fork, Utah and served six years aboard a nuclear submarine as an electronics technician.

Upon returning home, Valenta served 18 months as a missionary in Argentina. Prior to joining Lexington Diagnostic Center in 1995, Valenta worked for Unisys Corp. and with Fonar, one of the first manufacturers of MRI systems in the U.S.

Today, Valenta is responsible for designing and maintaining Lexington Diagnostic Center’s information technology network, computer systems, communications equipment, and PACS system. He also provides custom programming solutions to improve workflow at LDC. He has more than 30 years experience with electronics and computer systems.

Lexington Diagnostic Center offers High-Field MRI, Open MRI, CT, Ultrasound, X-ray, Nuclear Medicine, DEXA, and image-guided joint and epidural injections.

From Employee To Patient

“Ms Baker, if you needed surgery, would you have it done?” Was I hearing this correctly? Did the endocrinologist I met for the first time say “surgery”? My next step was to get another medical opinion on this. I emailed my primary care physician and since I am an employee at LDC, I asked Dr. Pope. He looked at my recent lab values and said, “If you don’t have broken bones, you will”.

I heard from my primary care physician and she said, “Eventually, you will progress to surgery.”

I learned I have a parathyroid disease. My next step was to call the endocrinologist’s office and with a stumbling voice, said, “I think I want to have the surgery done”.

So I was sent to a surgeon for evaluation. His first order was a nuclear medicine parathyroid scan. The next scan was a CT and the final scan was a 3T MRI (our newest machine).

As an employee at LDC, I decided to have that done at my office. I have worked as a medical transcriptionist for 16 years there, but I am an introvert and hesitated to share my personal health information with my co-workers. However, I swallowed my pride because I knew this was the best place to go and it would also to save me money. Since LDC is not affiliated with a hospital, their prices are significantly more affordable.

I am so glad I chose to have my scans at my place of employment. I encountered my coworkers from a different viewpoint. This time, as a patient.

Of course I knew my treatment would be personal because I was an employee, but what I didn’t expect was the great level of professionalism, knowledge, skills, courtesy and kindness that our unique employees displayed.

For the nuclear medicine scan, Karen Harter called me the day before my test and explained what would happen and what to expect. I was injected with contrast and images were taken. Then I returned 3 hours later and more images were taken. I was made comfortable and I felt no ill-effects from the contrast injection. I simply laid on the table and held still while Karen operated the machine. Dr. Pope told me the results later–a small benign tumor was found on one of my parathyroid glands.

The surgeon ordered a CT scan next. For this scan, I had the help of technologist Aaron Seul and our nurse Karen Sykes. Karen asked me all the safety questions before I was injected with contrast and the CT scan was taken. I was cleared for the administration of IV contrast, and so I was injected with a different type of contrast this time. My head felt warm and I had a metallic taste in my mouth, but I felt no ill-effects afterwards. Again, all I had to do was lay still and not move in order for Aaron to get clear pictures, similar to taking pictures with a camera. If a camera is shaken while taking the picture, the picture will be fuzzy. It is a similar process with getting a CT, nuclear medicine or MRI scan.

In the process of all this, I found that all my coworkers in all departments knew their jobs and did them well. I was amazed at the skills of everyone including reception, billing, scheduling, technologist and the radiologist. I saw our team at their best.

My last scan was an MRI. Some people are claustrophobic about going inside the MRI machine because it feels similar to being in a cave or coal mine. I drew on personal experience to help me through the scan.

When I was a kid, my friends and I explored caves around my hometown Mt. Vernon, KY. A favorite game was “can you get through fat man’s squeeze”. This is narrow spot in the cave that makes passage difficult and a bit scary because caves have no sunlight and without a flashlight, there is no light at all in caves.

After working at LDC for 16 years, I knew it was important to lay very still while inside the MRI in order for the technologist to get clear pictures for the radiologist to review and interpret. I drew on this experience when I was taking my MRI scan. I simply thought of “fat man’s squeeze”, closed my eyes, breathed deeply and prayed when I was put into the closed 1.5 high-field MRI.

However, after just a few minutes of being in the MRI, it was decided that the 3T MRI might give a better picture of my specific tumor.

So I was moved upstairs to the 3T MRI, with the help of Paula, Cat and Brett. These three were also very professional, skilled and courteous. I had never seen this side of my co-workers on a personal level only observing from the sidelines. Since some scans were already finished, it was time for the scans to be done after contrast was injection. Brett did the injection and it was nearly pain free. This contrast was the third type of contrast, and I felt no ill effects from the injection. I repeated my earlier practice of closing my eyes, breathing deeply and praying.

The scan was finished and now it was time to wait until Dr. Pope had time to review my images. When he did, he said, “I can see the adenoma (benign tumor)”. The other transcriptionist Pam typed my report and it was faxed to my surgeon’s office the next day.

LDC had provided me a CD of all three scans, so I hand delivered them to my surgeon’s office. Confident that the surgeon had all the information he needed to do the surgery, I went home. A few days later, his surgery scheduler called me to schedule the surgery.

I had a successful surgical procedure to remove the tumor and have recovered completely. I am thankful to have seen my co-workers in a completely different light-–as a vulnerable anxious patient. It is clear to me that the employees of Lexington Diagnostic Center live out their mission which is to provide quality compassionate medical imaging care. I am proud to work at such a place.

Making Outstanding Care, Superior Quality Convenient and Affordable

When it’s time for an imaging study – CT scan, MRI, ultrasound – many patients simply “go with the flow” in the belief that there are no choices or that all of the choices are essentially the same.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI, located on Harrodsburg Road in Lexington offers patients not only outstanding, personal care but superior quality as well. With full-time board-certified and fellowship-
trained radiologists, experienced, certified technical staff, commitment to the patient and family, and state-of-the-art equipment, Lexington Diagnostic Center is able to deliver a much higher level of care than is available anywhere else.

“Diagnostic imaging is all we do,” said Davonna Saier, Marketing Director for Lexington Diagnostic Center & Open MRI. “This singular focus allows LDC to schedule patients quickly, conduct tests efficiently, provide outstanding quality and reporting and do it all at a cost significantly less than what patients might pay elsewhere.”

Patients are sometimes concerned that imaging studies performed outside a hospital setting won’t be readily available to their physicians, or can’t be compared to previous studies. “That is absolutely not a concern,” Saier said. “Lexington Diagnostic Center provides an advanced Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS) which allows the referring physician to access our radiologists’ reports and imaging studies from their own computers, or even from the surgery suite at the local hospitals,” Saier said.

Further, every patient who has imaging performed at LDC leaves the center that day with a disk containing all of the images captured during the visit. “They can take the images directly to their doctor for review and, of course, the images are always archived here at the center for future reference if needed.” Patients also have access to all of their study reports from Lexington Diagnostic through a secure internet connection, the Patient Portal.

As for comparing today’s images to those captured months or even years ago, Lexington Diagnostic Center is able to request those images from other medical facilities for comparison purposes – continuity of care – without issue. “We have a courier who runs between all the medical

facilities daily picking up imaging studies and returning them here, to the Center, where our radiologists use them to compare today’s studies with any studies performed previously,” Saier said. “It is very important we compare our studies to any prior images that have been done before.”

There is no charge to the patient for this service – and no hassle either. “All they need to do is tell us where they had the images taken and when, and we’ll take care of the rest,” Saier said.

It’s one advantage of having imaging done at LDC that many patients really appreciate, she added. Another benefit is how convenient and easy it is to have testing done at Lexington Diagnostic. With evening and Saturday hours, patients never have to wait weeks to have a test scheduled. And when you arrive at the center for testing, you can feel confident that your test will be performed and you’ll be on your way quickly. There are no long waits caused by numerous emergency cases bumping the schedule. Results are reported to the referring physician quickly, typically in less than 72 business hours, Saier noted.

One of the most important considerations for patients receiving care anywhere is cost. Patients at Lexington Diagnostic Center have peace of mind knowing exactly how much their imaging study will cost, and what their out-of-pocket costs will be. Most patients will save hundreds of dollars by choosing to have their MRIs, CTs and other radiology tests performed at LDC instead of the local hospital.

“That’s because hospitals have to cover all of that overhead – the cafeteria, laundry, parking garages – it’s all rolled up into every patient’s bill. At Lexington Diagnostic Center, imaging is the only thing we do. We keep our overhead costs low and that keeps our prices low, too. And the Radiologist fee is included, so you won’t receive an extra bill from the physician.”

Taking advantage of the Lexington Diagnostic Center difference is quite easy. All you have to do is speak up when your doctor orders an imaging procedure for you. “Most patients don’t realize they have the right to decide where they’ll go for a test or procedure,” Saier said. When patients fail to express a preference, the doctor’s office will schedule the procedure where it is most convenient for them – usually the hospital.

Sometimes patients feel uncomfortable telling physician they need find a less expensive alternative to the hospital, Saier noted. That’s natural. But, she added, “Your doctor should be just as concerned about your financial health as he or she is about your physical health.”

Cost transparency is an important part of the Lexington Diagnostic Center patient care philosophy. “It’s important for patients to know not only how much a test will cost, but what they will be responsible for in terms of co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance,” Saier said. LDC works with the patient’s insurer to determine the out-of-pocket costs before testing is performed. Patients are informed up front of the total cost, usually at least 48 hours before their appointment. Payment is collected on the day of their imaging appointment.

“This means patients never have to worry about getting a bill they didn’t expect 30 or 60 days later,” Saier said. And, unlike hospitals, Lexington Diagnostic’s bill includes the radiologist’s professional fees. “There will ever only be one, all-inclusive bill from us,” Saier said. “You’ll never receive a bill in the mail later with a fee you didn’t know about.”

LDC accepts most all insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid. “We’ve actually had them conference in on the phone with patients to reschedule them from a higher-priced facility to us. We save money for insurance companies and for patients. That’s why it’s so important to shop for healthcare costs. Always call and compare prices,” Saier added.

Colon Cancer Screening: Know Your Options

Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, even though it is one of the most treatable forms of the disease… if found early. Sadly, most Americans who should receive screenings, avoid it. This may be out of a mistaken belief that colon cancer can’t happen to them. Or fear of getting bad news. Or squeamishness. Or even embarrassment.

Whatever the reason, thousands of people die annually from a cancer that could easily have been cured, or even prevented. There is an answer; another option: Virtual Colonoscopy, offered by Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI.

Unlike the traditional “optical” procedure, in which a fiber-optic tube is threaded through the bowel allowing the doctor to see and capture images along the way, virtual colonoscopy is performed outside the body, using CT scanning technology.

CT scan technology has been used for years to examine internal organs and structures – the liver, pancreas, brain, spine and joints, said George Privett, M.D., Medical Director at Lexington Diagnostic Center.  “Several years ago, doctors started to think about using CT technology to look at the colon.”

“The quality of the virtual colonoscopy is very good,” he said, adding, “Studies have shown it to be as accurate as an optical colonoscopy for identifying any significant sized polyp.” Lexington Diagnostic has been performing these procedures since 2009.

For patients, the benefits of virtual colonoscopy are many, Dr. Privett said. “First, because virtual colonoscopy is non-invasive, it doesn’t require sedation,” he said. “This allows patients to return to their normal daily activities immediately after the procedure, with no down time, no recovery period, no problem.”

Second, because virtual colonoscopy does not require snaking an instrument through the bowel, there is no risk of bowel perforation. And for patients on anti-coagulant therapy, virtual colonoscopy allows them to have the screening without stopping their medication regimen, reducing their risk of stroke.

What to Expect
As with a standard optical colonoscopy, patients must first complete a bowel prep over a period of 24 to 36 hours prior to the procedure. On the day of the exam, the patient comes to the center, completes some paperwork and then is positioned on the scanner table on their back. The bowel is inflated using air inserted with an enema tip. The first series of images is captured. The patient then lies face down on the table and the second set of images is completed.

The computer melds the images together to form a virtual view of the bowel, from the inside, across the descending, transverse and ascending colons. Even the hard-to-image appendix can be viewed. Results are read and interpreted by one of Lexington Diagnostic’s board-certified radiologists. If there’s a problem, the patient is informed immediately.

Should a polyp or tumor be found, Lexington Diagnostic Center has made arrangements with a local colorectal surgery group for its patients to be seen that same day for biopsy and to address the problem, allowing quick resolution and peace of mind for the patient.

Colon Cancer Screening Recommendations
The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women begin colon cancer screening at age 50 and continue the screening at regular intervals (every five to 10 years) until age 75.

People at high risk for colon cancer – those with a family history of the disease or a personal history of bowel problems – may begin screenings sooner. Talk to your primary care physician about what’s right for you.

Although virtual colonoscopy offers significant benefits for a large number of people, it’s not for everyone, including pregnant women; those with ulcerative colitis (especially an active case); people who have hip implants; or anyone with a previous rupture of the colon.

Insurance Coverage  
“Kentucky law requires that commercial insurance plans cover virtual colonoscopy in the same way that optical colonoscopy is covered”, Dr. Privett said. “The procedure is not covered by Medicare/Medicaid unless the patient tried and was unable to successfully complete an optical colonoscopy.”

For those with no insurance, Lexington Diagnostic offers special pricing for the procedure; a coupon is available on the center’s website.

Colonoscopy is not something people look forward to. But virtual colonoscopy can make the procedure easier and less intimidating for patients from all walks of life. “Somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of people who should have a screening colonoscopy in a year actually have it done,” Dr. Privett said. “If the availability of the virtual exam causes another 5 to 10 percent to have the screening, that’s a great thing,” he added.

Know the Warning Signs, Reduce your Risk
1.    Change in bowel habits
2.    Blood in the stool
3.    Cramps, abdominal pain
4.    Other bowel disorders

Unfortunately, by the time these warning signs become evident, it may be too late. For this reason, screening programs are vitally important.

When it comes to colon cancer, there are risk factors you can control, and those you cannot (such as your age or family history). Here are some things you can do to reduce your risk:
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
• Get enough fiber in your diet.
• Follow a low-fat diet.
• Get regular exercise.
• Avoid tobacco use.

“If you use tobacco products in any form, stop,” Dr. Privett advises. “The risk of cancer increases considerably in patients who are smokers or who are exposed to second-hand smoke,” he said.  “There is no safe tobacco product.”

Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI is located at 1725 Harrodsburg Road, Suite 100, Lexington. To find out more about our services and how we can save you money on your medical care, please check us out at or give us a call at (859) 278-7226.

Help PREVENT a heart attack with a Cardiac Calcium Screening!

This non-invasive test looks for the buildup of calcium deposits in the arteries that provide blood to the heart muscle.  An elevated cardiac calcium score may indicate the beginnings of heart disease and determine your risk for heart attack and stroke, allowing doctors to intervene before an incident occurs. Painless, safe, and accurate, the test is performed with a CT scanner and no injections are needed. The quick procedure is available at Lexington Diagnostic Center & Open MRI without a physician order.

  • No injection or treadmill required
  • More accurate than a cholesterol test
  • Also predicts the risk of stroke
  • Painless, safe and accurate
  • Done in one minute!
  • Affordable

85% of sudden heart attacks may be prevented if the conditions that lead to an attack are diagnosed early enough. You can choose good heart health and peace of mind.

Make it a date! Call Lexington Diagnostic Center at (859) 278-7226 to schedule your screening.

Love Is Blind. Good Health Isn’t! Stay Vigilant with Prostate Screenings.

Nothing says “romance” like talking about prostate screenings, right? Maybe not. Though it isn’t the most comfortable of topics, it’s important for you or the man you love to stay informed and vigilant for the most common cancer among men. There is a one in two chance that a man will develop prostate cancer as he ages.

Prostate cancer may cause no signs or symptoms in its early stages.
Prostate cancer that is more advanced may cause signs and symptoms such as:
• Trouble urinating
• Decreased force in the stream of urine
• Blood in the semen
• Discomfort in the pelvic area
• Bone pain
• Erectile dysfunction

Fortunately, successful detection and treatment are possible with proper screenings.

Traditional methods of detection require numerous biopsies be taken blindly in the prostate, increasing discomfort and the risk of complications. New MRI imaging techniques allow doctors to first determine if a tumor exists, where it is, its size, and the likelihood of cancer.  If suspicious tumor is found, then a targeted, less-invasive biopsy can be performed. If no tumor is identified or if a biopsy shows low or medium grade tumor, then “watchful waiting” or monitoring may be an option.

With early detection, a positive prostate cancer diagnosis does not require an urgent decision and there is time to do your own research and get several opinions.

Lexington Diagnostic Center & OPEN MRI offers MRIs of the prostate which can show the presence, location or, hopefully, the absence of cancer. This test uses an MRI scan of the pelvic area with and without contrast enhancement (contrast is a substance injected by IV to enhance the visibility of blood vessels and detect abnormal tissue).

“There is a lot of confusion in prostate cancer diagnoses stemming from unclear results and recommendations for when men should have a biopsy,” said Dr. George Privett, Medical Director, Lexington Diagnostic Center & OPEN MRI “By using modalities such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), we can more accurately localize and stage prostate cancer. This is a significant diagnostic tool, and can add potentially life-saving enhancement to the diagnosis and treatment of disease.”

The whole screening procedure only takes about an hour, but can provide invaluable, life-saving results and peace of mind. Stay vigilant and choose good health for yourself and your valentine! To learn more, call Lexington Diagnostic Center & Open MRI at (859) 278-7226.

Remember, for your medical imaging needs, you have a choice.

Welcome To 2016! Time To Take Better Care Of Your Health

If you, like most Americans, made a New Year’s resolution to take better care of yourself in 2016, there are some things you should know.

First off, you are not alone! About 45 percent of Americans make a resolution every New Year … and the top goal is to lose weight. Other resolutions include getting organized, saving money, staying fit and quitting smoking.
Making a resolution to be healthier is only the first step. The second step is understanding where you are health-wise and, along with your healthcare provider, setting realistic goals. Screenings can be an important part of achieving these goals.

“The best place to start out screening wise is to stand on the scales every morning,” according to George Privett, M.D., of Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI. Whether you need to lose, maintain or gain weight, this daily reminder will help you stay on track.

Another simple screening that can make a big difference in your overall health is getting your blood pressure checked regularly. You can have this done at your doctor’s office, at the local pharmacy or even at home. The point is, high blood pressure – also called hypertension – can damage your heart, brain, kidneys, eyes and entire circulatory system. There’s no reason not to know what your blood pressure is and to take steps to keep it under control.

“If your blood pressure is elevated – generally greater than 120/70 – talk to your doctor. He or she knows exactly what to do to help bring your blood pressure under control and help you avoid complications associated with hypertension,” he said.

Get your eyes examined and take care of your dental health, too. The eye exam can uncover a number of potential problems, including changes in visual acuity, glaucoma, diabetes and macular degeneration. And don’t forget about your teeth. That six-month checkup is essential!

As we age, it becomes more and more important for us to stay on top of our health – to get regular checkups and recommended screenings to ensure a healthy, active future. We all dream of a healthy old age … but we have to take steps to get us there!

Screenings for Men
Prostate cancer is one of those diseases that scares men, but it doesn’t have to be that way. “Ninety-five percent of prostate cancers are very slow growing and will never result in a problem,” Privett noted. Nonetheless, men should receive appropriate screenings as recommended by their physicians. This may include a laboratory test called a Prostate Specific Antigen test (PSA) and a manual exam.

There is some controversy surrounding the PSA test, Privett noted. “A positive result almost always results in additional testing or procedures, much of which may be unnecessary” because prostate cancer grows so slowly. In fact, Privett said, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force is now recommending that men not undergo PSA testing. “That’s probably a little extreme,” he said, adding, “We need to educate medical specialists to practice watchful waiting and active surveillance rather than rushing to prostate surgery that leaves men impotent and possibly incontinent.”

Surveillance may include a Multiparametric 3T prostate MRI. The procedure looks at the prostate from many different angles and aspects, and can find and diagnose tumors and determine whether or not they may be malignant.  This also allows physicians to perform a biopsy with better accuracy and may help you to avoid surgery or radiation. The procedure is typically covered by insurance when preceded by an elevated PSA.

The abdominal aorta is the major blood vessel that delivers blood to the lower half of the body. Men, in particular, and smokers are at risk for developing a weak area in this vessel, called an aneurysm. A ruptured or split abdominal aortic aneurysm is a life-threatening medical emergency. Fortunately, these aneurysms are easily found using ultrasound technology. The test is simple, painless and can be a true lifesaver. Insurance will cover the cost of a AAA screening based upon certain criteria. Be sure to ask your doctor or healthcare provider.

Screenings for Women
Mammography is a safe and effective screening test for breast cancer. Women should have a baseline mammogram at 40 and every year thereafter, as recommended by their care provider. Women who are at risk for breast cancer may start screening earlier. An annual clinical breast exam is also recommended. Should abnormal results be found, additional testing may be required, including breast ultrasound, biopsy or breast MRI. It’s also recommended that women receive an annual Pap test every year beginning at age 21 through age 65.

Tests for Both
Osteoporosis – thinning of the bones – affects both men and women. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends osteoporosis screening for women beginning at age 65 and every three to five years thereafter. Screening for men may also be recommended. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider.

Calcium scoring – This test looks for the buildup of calcium deposits in the arteries that provide blood to the heart muscle. An elevated score may indicate the beginnings of heart disease, allowing healthcare providers to intervene early before a cardiac incident occurs. This non-invasive test is performed using a CT scanner. The test is available at Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI without a physician order. While the test is not covered by insurance, the cost is relatively low when compared to the knowledge and reassurance it can bring. Visit for a special coupon.

Lung cancer screening – Until recently, there has been no safe, reliable screening for lung cancer. A screening test called a low-dose CT has changed that. The test uses CT technology to detect abnormalities in the lungs that may indicate cancer in its earliest stages. Early detection of any cancer helps increase the chance of cure. The low-dose CT screening is available without a physician referral and insurance will pay for the study and for follow up testing if the patient meets the criteria.

Colon cancer screening – If you are age 50 and haven’t had a colonoscopy, it’s time! At Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI, we offer a less invasive test, called virtual colonoscopy, that requires no sedation and fewer risks of complication. A virtual colonoscopy is performed using the CT scanner and provides excellent images of the interior of the colon. Should a polyp or tumor be found, we’ve made arrangements with a local colorectal surgeon to see patients the same day, thus avoiding a second bowel prep. One benefit of the virtual colonoscopy is that it provides good views of other abdominal organs, including the pancreas, spleen, lymph nodes, liver, uterus, ovaries, kidneys and gallbladder.

Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI is located at 1725 Harrodsburg Road, Suite 100, Lexington. To find out more about our services and how we can save you money on your medical care, please check us out at or give us a call at (859) 278-7226.

Learning About Your Healthcare Benefits Can Save You Cash

Switch on the evening news on just about any given day and you will see a story about how Americans’ wages have stagnated, even in the face of declining unemployment figures and stable inflation. Social Security recipients will not be getting an increase in 2016, but you can bet there is one thing that will be going up:

The amount you will pay for healthcare.

Whether it is in the form of higher premium costs, higher deductibles and co-insurance or the cost of the visit, test, procedure or hospitalization itself it will cost more.

It seems sometimes there is very little one can do personally to combat these increases. But Teresa Cole, financial manager at Lexington Outpatient Diagnostic Center and Open MRI, has some ideas on how you can take steps right now to control your healthcare costs. With 20 years of experience in healthcare billing, she is someone to listen to.

#1. Get Testing, Procedures Done Now
If your physician ordered tests or procedures for you earlier this year and you have been putting it off, now may be the perfect time to move forward. “By this time of year, most people have met their deductible and some have achieved their out-of-pocket cap,” Cole said. “For people in this situation, the amount they’re responsible for could be nothing, or close to it.”

If you have just completed Open Enrollment at your employer, then you should have an idea about changes to your plan for 2016. Changing what’s covered, at what level, is one way employers and insurance companies are working to rein in costs. You may pay more for a CT scan in January than you would now simply because of insurance changes.

Hospitals often update their fee schedule – called a charge master – around the first of the year, too.

#2. Shop Around
Patients have the right to have outpatient testing and procedures done wherever they like.  Often, they just “go with the flow” and have it done at the hospital where their doctor is. That decision can end up costing hundreds, even thousands of dollars, Cole said.

“Obviously there is a difference between an organization like Lexington Diagnostic – where the only thing we do is imaging – and a hospital,” Cole said. Hospitals carry a lot of overhead – inpatient beds, surgical suites, emergency rooms and so on. “They need to have a higher fee schedule to cover their costs.” Cole said. Lexington Diagnostic does not have those expenses to pass along to its patients.

For example, Cole shared the story of a family member who recently had a chest x-ray at one of the local hospitals. “The bill was $600 just for the hospital part. That did not include the radiologist’s fee for reading the exam,” she said. “The same test at Lexington Diagnostic Center would have cost $50. Total.”

#3. If You Have an FSA, Use It Up
“Flexible Spending Accounts are a great way to plan for and pay your healthcare costs,” she said, “but only if you use all of the money you put into the FSA. If you don’t use the funds you set aside, they don’t roll over.”

Every FSA is different, but in general you will need to have your testing or procedure performed by Dec. 31, 2015, to use the FSA funds from 2015. Some plans provide a grace period, but be sure to ask. “Know the rules so you can take advantage of the money you’ve set aside,” Cole said.

Another point of confusion with FSAs is around service and billing dates. “A lot of people think that the time the bill is processed or received is what matters when it comes to using the FSA funds,” Cole said. The only dates that are important are the date of service and the deadline for submitting claims, she noted.

#4. Ask About Discounts  
At Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI, self-pay patients receive a substantial discount off the Center’s already low costs. “When you compare what we charge to what others charge, and then apply the discount, you really begin to see a significant savings,” Cole noted.

Another option is to ask about payment arrangements. “It doesn’t hurt to ask and if there is a way to make it work, we certainly will try,” Cole said. Lexington Diagnostic also accepts major credit cards, such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. From time to time, those companies have no-interest promotions that could really help.

#5. Understand Your Insurance Benefits
Many people do not know or understand their health insurance benefits, Cole said, which can lead to some really big – and unpleasant – surprises. “People need to take control of their benefits and understand what’s covered, what’s not, and what they are responsible for.”

“A huge misconception is that if they have insurance, it’s going to pay for everything,” Cole said. “In most cases it is not.” Patients at Lexington Diagnostic Center always know what they are going to have to pay – upfront – without any uncertainty or doubt.

“Our financial team is here to help patients. We collect their insurance information up front, contact the insurer to determine what their benefit is, and then let the patient know how much they are going to be responsible for.” There are no surprises, no mystery bills three months later. It gives patients peace of mind and the ability to really budget.

Lexington Diagnostic Center is an “in network” provider for nearly all of the major insurance plans serving the Lexington area, including:
•    Anthem
•    Humana
•    Bluegrass Family Health
•    Traditional Medicare
•    United Health Care
•    Cigna
•    All Kentucky Medicaid managed care plans
•    Worker’s Compensation

In addition, Cole said, Lexington Diagnostic accepts insurance claims associated with motor vehicle accidents.

Finally, Cole said, it is important to understand that hospitals are not the only places you can receive high-quality, state-of-the-art care. Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI provides the most advanced imaging services available, in a comfortable, convenient location. Studies are read by board- certified, fellowship-trained radiologists who live, work and are active participants in the Lexington community. They care about their patients, their city, and its residents.

Wishing you a happy and healthy Holiday Season from Lexington Diagnostic Center & Open MRI

Ultrasound: It’s Not Just For Babies

In the medical imaging arsenal, ultrasound has quickly become one of the most commonly ordered diagnostic tests performed each year.

That’s pretty amazing when you consider that the medical use of ultrasound was first developed in the late 1950s. Since that time, ultrasound has become the go-to test for a wide range of conditions … not just pregnancy.

One of the distinct advantages of ultrasound is that it uses high frequency sound waves to capture images. People undergoing an ultrasound exam have zero radiation exposure. Further, because sound waves are used, we are able to capture more than just images. Think sounds and motion.

Clinical uses of ultrasound
Ultrasound can image a wide array of body structures, including muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and internal organs such as the thyroid, heart, gallbladder, liver and reproductive organs. Ultrasound can even capture images of blood flowing through the veins and arteries! It’s a technology that can uncover structural defects and pinpoint irregularities in function.

At Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI, ultrasound testing focuses primarily on abdominal studies, thyroid problems, pelvic exams and vascular studies, said sonographer Deb Withers, “A lot of patients are in complete shock when they are sent for an ultrasound,” Withers said. “They say – an ULTRASOUND? Isn’t that for babies?”

While ultrasound technology was first developed for obstetrical uses, today it can be employed in diagnosing a wide variety of conditions, including:
• Circulatory problems, such as peripheral artery disease, narrowing of the carotid arteries, venous insufficiency and varicose veins
• Follow-up to an abnormal mammogram
• Thyroid disease
• Conditions affecting the abdominal organs (liver, bladder, pancreas, gallbladder)
• Reproductive system (ovaries, uterine cysts and fibroids, testicles, prostate)
• Heart conditions, including valve disease and heart failure
• Issues with the reproductive organs, including cysts and cancer

Celebrating Rad Techs
Nov. 8 – 15
On Nov. 8, 1895, William Conrad Roentgen discovered x-rays, giving doctors an incredibly powerful tool to diagnose and treat a wide variety of illnesses. From his discovery grew an arsenal of medical imaging modalities: x-ray, nuclear medicine, CT scan, MRI, PET scanning, DEXA scan and, by extension ultrasound.

We celebrate this discovery every year by celebrating the individuals – radiology technologists regardless of their field of specialization – who apply Roentgen’s discovery every day to advance the health of our patients and community. Thank you, Rad Techs for everything you do all year long!

Meet Deb Withers, Ultrasonographer

Deb Withers has been an ultrasound technologist for eight years. Originally from Ashland, Ky., Deb earned her bachelor’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography from Morehead State University. Through the course of her career, she’s had the opportunity to work in hospitals and physicians offices and has experienced the entire range of medical sonography.

In the eight years she’s been in practice, Deb has seen a dramatic improvement in the technology of ultrasound and what it is capable of achieving.

“Ultrasound is the most fascinating and challenging of the diagnostic modalities,” Deb says, “because you are literally the ears and eyes of the doctor.” Scanning occurs in real time, with changing body structures, blood flowing, people breathing, digestion taking place, and so on. “Performing an ultrasound exam requires the complete and total involvement of the ultrasongrapher, Deb says.

“The machine is not going to take the right picture for you. To be highly skilled, you have to know what’s going on and what image you need to capture to tell the story for the doctor.”

“If you don’t see the image and capture it, the doctor can’t see the image and diagnose the problem.”

As a result, the relationship between the physician and the technologist has to be very close. “The doctor has to know they can trust me to get the right images every time.”

Deb, who has been with Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI Center for three years, is committed to caring for each patient on an individual basis, with specific needs and concerns. “There’s not one single way to make someone feel better. It’s all the small ways we show compassion…smiling…listening…making someone as comfortable as possible,” Deb says. “Over time, you learn to read people and to make them feel cared for” regardless of what is going on.

As a bodybuilder, Deb has a special appreciation for the human body and its inner workings. “One of my favorite things is to feel healthy and strong,” Deb says, “and that makes me even more empathetic to my patients. I understand that they are sick, that they don’t feel well, and I understand how important feeling well really is.”

Because ultrasound is sound based, it performs best when applied to solid organs and tissues, such as the liver. Organs that contain air or gas – such as the intestine – cannot be imaged using ultrasound.

“You know, the body tells a story,” Withers said, “Ultrasound lets us hear and see the story so that we can appropriately diagnose and treat our patients.”

Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI offers a wide range of diagnostic imaging exams, including ultrasound, nuclear medicine scans, and MRI. The cost of having a diagnostic exam performed at Lexington Diagnostic Center is less than one would pay at a hospital – and a lot more convenient, too.

If your physician recommends any type of diagnostic imaging exam, consider having your test done with us. Our scheduling is quick and convenient, we have a Radiologist and Nurse in house and results are available within one business day. For more information, please call the office at (859) 278-7226. We are conveniently located in Lexington at 1725 Harrodsburg Road, Suite 100. We accept all major insurance.