At Lexington Diagnostic Center, We Love Our Doctors…

Dr. Privett Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRIWhen you hear the word doctor, your mind naturally goes to those physicians with whom you interact – your family doctor, cardiologist, even the physician who treated you in the emergency department.

Patients don’t often realize that there are many other physicians involved in their care; doctors they never see. In celebration of National Doctor’s Day on March 30, we wanted to celebrate our three physicians by pulling back the curtain on these highly trained and dedicated specialists.

George Privett, M.D.
Dr. Privett received his medical degree from Baylor University College of Medicine and completed internship and residency in Internal Medicine and Neurology at the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center and served as Chief of Neurology at Womack Army Hospital in Fort Bragg, N.C.

Dr. Privett is a member of American Academy of Neurology, American Society of Neuroimaging, American Medical Association, Kentucky Medical Association and Lexington Medical Society. He practiced Clinical Neurology and Neuroimaging from 1974-1998; currently practices Neuroimaging and is the Medical Director and owner of Lexington Diagnostic Center & OPEN MRI.

Q. Where are you from originally?
A. Slaton, Texas

Q. What extracurricular activities did you participate in in high school/college?
A. I played football in seventh grade. After that I was in the Slaton High School Marching Band and was Drum Major my senior year. I marched with the Texas Tech Red Raider Marching band 2 years.

Q. When did you first realize you wanted to be a physician?
A. For as long as I can remember

Q. How did you come to radiology?
A. Through neurology. When CT scanning came along and allowed the amazing pictures of the brain.

Q. If you weren’t a physician, what would you be?
A. A travel photographer.

Q. What do you like about your job?
A. I like radiology because of the amazing, non-invasive things it can show inside the body.

Q. Tell us a little about your family.
A. I have an amazing blended family and everyone gets along very well. My wife, Nawanna, is a brilliant educator and is sitting for the second term on the Kentucky State Board of Education.

Q. What are your past-times or hobbies?
A. Photography. I love the colors that abound in nature. Singing, particularly classical. I love the way harmonies, melodies and counterpoints come together to make a great song.

Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?
A. Lexington, Ky.

Q. What makes Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI a great place to practice?
A. At LDC there is a culture of friendliness, cooperation and team playing, with the emphasis on the patient, who comes first.

Robert Pope, D.O.
Dr. Pope is a board-certified radiologist fellowship trained in musculoskeletal radiology. He completed his residency at Michigan State University, and is a graduate of Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Pope served in the Air Force and practiced at Joint Base Balad-Air Force Theater Hospital Iraq where he was Chief Radiologist. He served as staff radiologist at Eglin Air Force Base where he was the director of MRI and Mammography Services. Dr. Pope is experienced in all aspects of medical imagining with an interest in musculoskeletal MRI and joint and epidural injections.

Q. Where are you from originally?
A. Lexington

Q. What school did you attend?
A. Henry Clay

Q. What extracurricular activities did you participate in in high school/college?
A. Wrestling team at Henry Clay. Helped cultivate a competitive spirit. We didn’t get ribbons for participation.

Q. When did you first realize you wanted to be a physician?
A. As a young kid.

Q. How did you come to radiology?
A.  It was a good combination of diagnostic challenges and getting to work with really all branches of medicine.

Q. If you weren’t a physician, what would you be?
A. BBQ Pit Master

Q. What do you like about being a radiologist?
A. Getting to make diagnoses and help people on their way to treating their conditions.

Q. What are your past-times/hobbies?
A. Golf, fishing, music. I find them relaxing.

Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?
A. On a boat.

Q. What makes Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI a great place to practice?
A. We save patients money.

Jason Harris, M.D.
Dr. Harris is a board-certified radiologist, fellowship trained in musculoskeletal radiology. He completed his radiology residency at University of Cincinnati and earned his medical degree at University of Louisville. Dr. Harris completed his musculoskeletal fellowship at the Medical College of Virginia. He is experienced in all facets of radiology with an emphasis in musculoskeletal MRI and epidural steroid injections.

Q. Where are you from originally?
A. Louisville, Ky. I attended St. Xavier.
Q. When did you first realize you wanted to be a physician?
A. I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t a consideration. I became serious about becoming a physician in college.

Q. How did you come to radiology?
A. The American Board of Radiology administered the oral board examination for the entire country every spring in Louisville for over 35 years. My mom and I both worked the examination, and I got a chance to know some of the best radiologist in the country. It was always a field that I was interested in practicing.

Q. If you weren’t a physician, what would you be?
A. A teacher, probably in high school.

Q. What do you like about being a radiologist?
A. Radiology is one of the most challenging fields in all of medicine. You really have to have a strong knowledge base in many different areas of medicine in order to communicate with referring physicians and participate in taking care of patients. I love to learn, and I learn something every day in radiology.

Q. Do you have any past-times or hobbies?
A. I enjoy spending time with my family, exercising/outdoors, reading, fishing and traveling.

Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?
A. Right here in Kentucky. I have traveled all over the world, and have lived in five different states. The more I travel, the more I realize how special Kentucky is to me, and it is where my family lives.

Q. What makes Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI a great place to practice?
A. LDC provides imaging services to our community at an affordable cost. The health care industry has made it difficult for imaging centers like LDC to survive. I am proud to be part of the LDC team, who strive to treat our patients like family.

No Better Time To Say “Thanks” Than Now

We at Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI are continuously thankful for the patients who choose to use us for their care; for the physicians and other healthcare providers who have placed their trust and confidence in us to care for their patients; and for every member of our team, who work diligently to ensure that our patients are well cared for, our testing is of the highest quality and our reputation is sterling.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we wanted to share with you a few of the comments we have received from our patients about their experiences at LDC. We know the best way for people to get to know and trust us is through the experiences of their friends and families.

Raves about our Team
“My technician Karen was so very nice and informative. Very professional and compassionate. I want her to do every procedure I ever have to have in the future!”

“Each and every member of you staff were exceptional. Giving and getting information, caring and concern directed to each patient. A very calming influence which in my case was very appreciated.”

“I have had a number of CT scans at (other facilities). The nursing staff at LDC was the friendliest and most informative I have yet encountered. The Technician who first explained the test and then administered it was by far the most qualified in his knowledge of the procedure and its explanation to me that I have had.  He was expert in the injection – no bruise, no hesitation, no pain – a real delight.  All excellent.”

“For my very first time visiting the staff made me feel like I had been there multiple of times. That gave me a such a great feeling and Ms. Debra was so awesome and you definitely made me feel welcomed. Thank You Lexington Diagnostic Center you all are absolutely awesome.”

“Lee Kirkland did a great job explaining everything to me. He made me feel relaxed the whole time. I could tell he genuinely cared.”

“The tech, I think his name was Lee, was also very courteous and explained everything in detail and answered any questions I had.”

Comparing Prices
“Previous people I work with have compared prices to local hospitals and found that Lexington Diagnostics has better pricing and much faster results.  When we send our patients there, their results sometimes beat them back to the office!”

“You offer the same services other facilities offer at a much more reasonable price. Short wait times and a knowledgeable staff. I could have saved myself hundreds of dollars if I had gotten my X-rays here. Hospital charged almost $1,500. For 3 simple X-rays of hands and feet. Taught me a valuable lesson about shopping for the best value for my money.”

Efficiency and Convenience
“I can always count on fast, friendly and knowledgeable service when I am calling LDC in a professional role as well as a personal role.”

“Your office seems like a well-oiled machine.  I like that I left with my disk even though you sent results to 2 different doctors.  Some places I’ve been too seem put out if you ask for a copy of your records.”

“I was extremely appreciative that I was able to come from my physician to get an X-ray without an appointment as I live out of town.  I did not feel very well that day, and I was grateful that I did not have to travel back to Lexington at another time.”

“The most professional medical facility I’ve ever been to. Everyone was so polite and friendly.”

“I was scheduled for 7:30 and there was a wreck and I was actually 30 minutes late for my appointment time. The Staff worked me in anyway, which was awesome because I drove an hour to get there.”

You, too, can discover the convenience and value of having your medical imaging done at Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI. We perform a wide array medical imaging exams, including:
• CT scans
• MRI
• Ultrasound
• General x-ray
• Virtual colonoscopy
• Nuclear medicine studies
• Dexa and bone density studies
• Cardiac calcium scoring
• Low-Dose CT scanning for lung cancer
• Prostate MRI
• Epidural and facet block injections

So Your Child Needs An MRI. Now What?

When a doctor recommends an MRI or CT scan for your child, your mind races with a million questions: Is it safe? What’s wrong?

Will it help diagnose the problem? Do they know how to take care of a child having an MRI? Will it hurt? Will she be scared? What can I do to make him feel more comfortable? What if she can’t hold still for the test? What if he freaks out? What if I freak out?

It’s normal to be concerned, but the first thing you need to do is to relax yourself! Remember, kids are like little sponges; they soak up the tension, concern and worry exuded by parents and caregivers and squeeze it out as the time for the test or procedure grows near.

Across the U.S., people of all ages undergo MRIs and other medical imaging procedures every day. Sure there are precautions that must be taken, but the healthcare professionals who will perform the tests are just that – professionals. They have received extensive and ongoing training in caring for both children and adults, and they and put that training into practice every day!

If there’s time, and there usually is, it’s best to talk to your child about the exam and what it will entail, said Karen Sykes, a nurse at Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI. Sykes works directly with children undergoing diagnostic imaging, and their parents, to ensure they have the most comfortable experience possible.

There are a variety of ways to talk to your child about an MRI or CT, Sykes said. For younger kids, parents may compare the experience to getting a photograph taken. It’s something they are all familiar with (think smart phone cameras and selfies) and so it’s no big deal.

Kids who are especially inquisitive may want to know about the kind of “camera” being used and how it can take pictures of things inside your body. Showing them MRI and CT images online can help them understand and most kids are excited to learn that they will leave Lexington Diagnostic Center with a disk of their images they can view at home!

Older children may want to know about the science of an MRI or a CT. For them, you may want to do a little research so you can answer basic questions. “I recommend parents do some online research,” Sykes said. “There are videos available that show pediatric MRIs and teaches kids what will happen during the test.” Familiarity will be reassuring to children. YouTube has both live action and animated videos.

Some parents employ a little “bribery” to ensure cooperation: a special treat after successful completion of the exam. For a little one, that might mean an ice cream cone. For an older child, perhaps it’s a Mommie-and-Me day at the beauty salon or a new video game. Make it something you’ll both look forward to and remember

Reassure your child that the people who will be taking care of them will do their very best for them. At Lexington Diagnostic Center, a parent or loved one may sit or stand beside the MRI machine so the child never feels alone in the exam room.

During the actual exam, the technologist may ask the child to play a little game that will help them to hold very still. The child may be asked to pretend they are in a rocket ship taking off for the moon; or are a statue in the park; or even frozen. The games are designed to help the child hold still during the active scan period.

Depending on the test, you may be able to accompany the child into the scan room during the procedure. Kids can choose their own music during the scan and younger ones may be able to take a favorite blanket into the scanner with them. All kids having a scan at Lexington Diagnostic Center receive a stuffed animal to take home after the test.

A lot of parents ask about open MRI for their kids, Sykes said, but this equipment may not be the best choice … it requires children to hold still for much longer periods of time, Sykes noted. “Parents ask about open MRI because they may be a little claustrophobic themselves,” she said, “But it’s important to remember there’s a lot more room in an MRI machine when you’re a 50-pound child than when you are 200-pound adult male. Claustrophobia may not even be a problem.”

“The vast majority of the time, we can get a scan done for a child when no one else has been able to,” Sykes said, “because we work very hard to help the child and parent feel comfortable and at ease. Our facility isn’t as scary as a hospital and we certainly take the time to work with them one-to-one,” she noted. “We treat every patient with warmth and compassion and we are especially skilled at working with patients and children with special needs, including infants, children, the elderly and those with developmental disabilities.”

If your child is scheduled to have an MRI, CT scan, ultrasound, nuclear medicine or even a general X-ray, give Lexington Diagnostic Center a call at (859) 278-7226 Or call toll free 800-755-7441 to learn more about our child – and family-friendly services. You’ll be glad you did.

Meet Nurse Karen Sykes
Karen Sykes, a licensed practical nurse, is originally from Elkhorn City deep in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky.

She returned to the mountains after attending school at Eastern Kentucky University. It was at this time that she found her life’s work: nursing. Sykes graduated from the nursing program at Mayo Tech in 1982. During her career, she has worked in all areas of nursing, including pediatrics, cardiac, geriatrics, critical care, neurology, IV therapy and emergency services.

Sykes came to Lexington Diagnostic Center in 1999 to “help out for a couple of days” while the practice searched for a full-time nurse. After a short time, Sykes came to realize Lexington Diagnostic was where she needed to be.

Seventeen years later, Sykes provides all of the nursing care at the Center and serves on the practice’s management team. She, and her staff, will take on any challenge, but patient care is her specialty. Her patients often comment on how kind and caring she is, how they felt like they were the only patient Sykes had that day. Her compassion and experience make it possible for her to care for a diverse patient population, including infants, those with special needs, the very ill and elderly.

A mother of two (and grandmother, too), Sykes knows what it’s like to have a sick child and works hard to put parents’ minds at ease and to answer all questions in a way that is complete, concise and understandable.

The FYI On Your MRI

Open MRI SystemChances are, you or someone you know has needed an MRI scan at some point. We’ve at least all heard of an MRI and might imagine ourselves getting in to that big white tube! But what exactly are we getting ourselves in to? With the help of Paula Bracken, chief radiologic technologist at Lexington Diagnostic Center & Open MRI, let’s explore what you should know, consider, and expect when you need an MRI.

What is an MRI?
As Paula explains, “MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is a non-invasive scan that uses a large magnet, pulses of radiofrequency waves, and a computer to create detailed, 2D and 3-D images of organs and structures within your body”. Physicians often use MRI imaging to diagnose conditions that may not be adequately assessed using other imaging methods such as X-ray, ultrasound or CT scan.

An MRI is often used to:
• Examine the joints, brain, spine, nerves, abdominal organs, breasts, reproductive organs and other soft tissues
• Assess blood vessels for clots and areas of narrowing
• Detect tumors and diagnose many forms of cancer
• Evaluate infections
• Assess injuries to bones, joints and muscles
• Achieve more detailed images than other imaging modalities

MRIs are often preferred over X-rays and CT scans because they don’t emit potentially harmful radiation. Here’s how it works:
1. The MRI scanner is a very strong magnet that is always turned on.
2. Since the body is made up of mostly water, hydrogen protons in the water are utilized to create an image.
3. An antenna is placed around the area of your body to be scanned.
4. You are moved into the magnetic field of the machine and the hydrogen protons go from spinning randomly to aligning with the magnetic field.
5. Radiofrequency pulses are introduced to move the protons into different positions and the antenna “listens” to the echoes from the protons as they relax.
6. The information is sent to a computer that creates the image.

Where to have your MRI
Many patients “go with the flow” and have their scan performed at the hospital, not realizing they have options for comfort, convenience, and cost-savings. Paula says she’s proud to provide superior care and quality at LDC. “We offer an MRI for every need, and we take care of our patients at a fair price that they’ll find is much less expensive than at other facilities,” says Paula.

An MRI for every need
If even just the thought of that big white tube makes you cringe with claustrophobia, rest assured there’s an option for you. You can even have a loved one stay close by for support. That option is also great for little patients who want a parent close by. Lexington Diagnostic Center utilizes modern equipment and procedures to produce the best images possible while ensuring the patient’s comfort. There are three different MRI machine options to accommodate various patient needs and preferences.

In some cases, sedation may be required or requested for the patient. There is no charge for sedation at LDC. You will need to arrange for a driver to take you home.

What to expect and how to prepare:
Talk to your doctor’s referring coordinator or scheduler when your scan is ordered and they can set up your appointment with Lexington Diagnostic Center. LDC will receive your doctor’s orders and will call you to confirm your appointment. Be sure to let LDC know ahead of time if you’ve had a scan of the same area previously at another location so that images can be compared. Paula shares that LDC takes pride in making sure the entire process is easy and convenient for the patient. She says, “We make sure patients have their appointment in a timely manner, without hassle, and are made as comfortable as possible while receiving superior image quality.”

MRI procedures are performed on an outpatient basis. Eat, drink and take your medications as usual unless instructed otherwise. If you are scheduled for an abdominal MRI, you might be asked to refrain from eating or drinking for two hours prior to your appointment.

For the scan, you’ll be asked to change into a hospital gown and remove any metal items including:
• Jewelry
• Hairpins
• Eyeglasses
• Watches
• Wigs
• Dentures
• Hearing aids

The MRI machine is a large, tube-shaped machine that the patient enters while lying comfortably on an exam table. The machine can get loud, so earplugs and headphones are available. The radiology technologist will be close by, keeping you informed and making sure you’re comfortable. You can stop the exam any time to ask questions or express concerns.

Most MRI scans take about 30 minutes to perform for each study. Afterward, the pictures will be reviewed by the radiologist and a report will be sent to your doctor.

Why choose Lexington Diagnostic Center for your MRI?
They are committed to providing the most convenient high-quality MRI imaging services for patients and their physicians. LDC offers:

• Ease of scheduling with typically same-week appointments
• Board Certified Musculoskeletal Fellowship Trained Radiologists to interpret your results
• Highly trained technologists to ensure your comfort and safety
• CD of images for each patient to have and share with their healthcare provider
• An integrated electronic medical records system that provides your referring physician easy access to your images
• Evening and Saturday appointment times
• Front door parking

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!

X-ray
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.