Diagnostic Imaging

Diagnostic Imaging, Cardiorisk, Cardio Risk

Diagnostic imaging is used to create detailed images of the body’s structures and functions. These images are used to examine and diagnose medical conditions.

In addition to the imaging services listed below, Bluffton Regional is also equipped with digital imaging storage software that allows physicians to access digital image files at any Lutheran Health Network location.

CT, including extensive testing, CardioRisk and lung cancer screenings

Computer-aided tomography - a CT scan - is quick and noninvasive. Small X-ray scanners take images of a targeted area and send a three-dimensional view to a computer. The computer displays this information as “slices,” allowing the radiologist to review the scanned area in a sequence of images.

About the Exam

Patients lie on a table that slowly moves through the scanner and creates 3-D images. The procedure may be performed with or without a contrast agent, based on physician orders. All CT exams are performed by a CT technologist and interpreted by board-certified radiologists.

In addition to extensive testing, CT scans are also used for screenings, including CardioRisk and lung cancer screenings.

DEXA Bone Density Testing

Loss of bone density is part of aging and can lead to problems with osteoporosis. A physician-ordered Dual-Energy X-ray Absorption, or DEXA, scan will help assess the risk of fractures related to osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis risk factors include:

  • Female
  • Caucasian
  • Advanced age
  • History of bone fractures
  • Small, thin frame
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Removal of ovaries
  • Early menopause
  • Low-calcium diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Eating disorders
  • Certain medications
  • Alcohol and tobacco use

What is a DEXA Scan?

A DEXA scan uses X-ray to measure the amount of bone material or density, which is directly related to bone strength. Measurements are taken from the spine and hip, where fractures caused by osteoporosis occur most often. The information is sent to a computer and used to help determine the diagnosis.

Preparing for the Exam

DEXA testing is a quick, safe test that takes about 10 minutes. Patients remain fully clothed but may be asked to remove belt buckles and metal jewelry.

NOTE: Do not take calcium supplements the day of the DEXA scan.

Digital Mammography

Monthly breast self-exams, annual clinical breast exams and regular mammograms after age 40 provide the earliest detection of breast cancer and noncancerous breast-related changes.

Bluffton Regional offers both 3D and 2D digital mammography. These highly-effective tests are taken one step further through the use of a computer-aided image checker (CAD), which assists radiologists in identifying areas of concern.

About the Exam

Mammograms require some breast compression to obtain a clear image. A certified mammography technologist will take special care to minimize this temporary discomfort and may use special pads to increase comfort. Exams typically take only a few minutes to complete.


Avoid using deodorant or talc powder prior to the exam. For your convenience, we suggest wearing a two-piece outfit. Temporarily limiting caffeine may also make the exam more comfortable.

Bluffton Regional’s mammography services are fully accredited by the American College of Radiology and FDA certified.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) utilizes radiation-free magnetic scanning to create 3-D images. The precise detail of these images makes it easier to pinpoint the smallest abnormalities. MRI is often used to obtain information not available using other imaging techniques. It is particularly valuable in studying the brain and spinal cord, diagnosing strokes, locating and sizing tumors and preparing for orthopedic procedures.

Preparing for the Exam

Preparation for the MRI is minimal. For most studies, it is okay to eat regular meals and take routine medications. However, patients having an abdominal scan or cardiac stress scan should stop eating and drinking four hours prior to the exam.

Dress comfortably in clothes with little to no metal on them. Leave jewelry and credit cards at home; they cannot be taken into the scan room due to the magnet. It is not necessary to have a ring cut off if it cannot be removed.

Exam times range from 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on the areas being scanned.

Exam Considerations

MRI is extremely safe and incredibly accurate. However, patients with cardiac pacemakers, cerebral (brain) aneurysm clips or cochlear implants or those with metal embedded in their eyes cannot be scanned. Contact the imaging department prior to the MRI if any of these conditions apply.

Bluffton Regional's MRI services are fully accredited by the American College of Radiology.

Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine procedures use small amounts of radioactive materials to create images. These radioactive materials are injected, swallowed or inhaled and produce radioactive emissions as they travel through the body. A special camera detects these emissions in the organ, bone or tissue being studied and records the information. Nuclear medicine is unique among imaging procedures because it documents function as well as structure.

Nuclear medicine studies may be completed in a short period of time or may require several hours. A nuclear medicine technologist will explain the process and answer any questions prior to the start of the procedure.

Radiography and Fluoroscopy (X-rays)

Radiography and fluoroscopy procedures use X-rays to capture images of the chest, spine, bones, digestive tract, uterus and bladder. Radiography provides pictures of bones and internal organs, while fluoroscopy adds the ability to view flow or motion. Similar to a movie, fluoroscopy can include imaging of dynamic processes such as throat abnormalities.

X-rays take place in the radiology department, in surgery or in patient rooms when necessary. The amount of radiation is always kept to a minimum.


Painless, noninvasive ultrasound imaging uses high-frequency sound waves to produce real-time pictures of organ formation, movement and blood flow. Bluffton Regional’s ultrasound technology also includes 3-D capabilities for volume imaging. Ultrasound procedures are radiation-free and do not have harmful side effects.

Modern obstetric medicine relies heavily on ultrasound and 3-D ultrasound to provide detailed images of the fetus and uterus. Registered sonographers also utilize ultrasound technology to collect images of the:

  • Vascular/circulatory system
  • Abdomen
  • Pelvis
  • Breast
  • Varicose veins
  • Internal organs
  • Blood flow

About the Exam

The sonographer applies a warm gel to the area being scanned. A small handheld instrument is then used to collect images and display them on a monitor.

Bluffton Regional's Ultrasound services are fully accredited by the American College of Radiology.

To schedule an appointment, call (833) 546-4968(833) 546-4968.