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Appointment Information for Patients

Plan your visit

  • Our fluoroscopy, MRI, CT scan and ultrasound services are offered at locations throughout the Richmond area.
  • Call (804) 628-3580 to make an appointment and find a location.

Fluoroscopy

Fluoroscopy is a type of medical imaging that shows a continuous X-ray image on a TV-like monitor, much like an X-ray movie. A fluoroscopy is often done while a contrast material or dye moves through the part of the body being examined.  The contrast material is used to better visualize the action or motion of the body system being examined. Fluoroscopy allows the physician to look at many body systems including the skeletal, digestive, urinary, cardiovascular, respiratory and reproductive systems.

Fluoroscopy procedures are performed to help diagnose disease, or guide physicians during certain treatment procedures. Many fluoroscopy procedures are performed as outpatient procedures while the patient is awake – for example, an upper gastrointestinal (GI) series to examine the esophagus, stomach, and small intestines, or a barium enema to examine the colon. Other fluoroscopy procedures are performed as same-day hospital procedures, typically while the patient is sedated – for example, a cardiac catheterization to examine the heart and the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle.

Fluoroscopy procedures may vary depending on your condition and the body area or system being examined. Generally speaking, a fluoroscopy procedure will follow this process:

  • You will be asked to remove any clothing or jewelry that may interfere with the area of the body to be examined. You may be given a hospital gown to wear.
  • Contrast material or dye may be given, depending on the type of procedure being done. You may get the contrast agent by swallowing it, as an enema, or in an intravenous (IV) line in your hand or arm. The contrast material is used to better visualize the organs or body structure or system being studied.
  • You will be positioned, usually on your back, on an X-ray table. Depending on the type of procedure, you may be asked to adjust to different positions, move a certain body part, or hold your breath for a short time while the fluoroscopy is being done. A special X-ray scanner will be used to produce the fluoroscopic images of the body structure or system being studied. The length of the procedure will vary with the type of procedure being done.

Patient instructions will vary depending on the type of fluoroscopy procedure and the body structure or system being examined. For example, some procedures will require the use of contrast material and others will not. Based on your medical condition, your healthcare provider may give you specific instructions on how to prepare for a given fluoroscopy procedure. Please refer to the Patient Instructions below for some of the more common diagnostic fluoroscopy procedures done at VCU Health:

Most diagnostic fluoroscopy procedures are performed at the Diagnostic Radiology Department in the Main Hospital, 3rd Floor, 1200 East Marshall Street. Depending on the body area being examined and the type of fluoroscopy procedure, the radiology scheduler may offer other VCU Health facilities for your fluoroscopy procedure. Please call 804-628-3580 to schedule your fluoroscopy exam or if you have any questions about your procedure.

MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique that uses a strong magnetic field, radio waves and a special computer to produce detailed, cross-sectional images of organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal body structures.  These detailed images allow physicians to evaluate various parts of the body and determine the presence of certain anomalies or diseases.

The typical MRI scanner is a large cylinder-shaped tube that is open at both ends with a movable exam table. The patient lies down on the exam table which then slides into the tube-shaped scanner. A highly-trained technologist monitors you from an adjacent room and you can talk to the technologist through an intercom. If you have a fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), you may ask your physician for medicine to help you relax. Most people get through an MRI exam with no difficulty.

Upon arrival at the imaging facility the technician may ask you to change into a hospital gown.  Because powerful magnets are used, it is critical that no metal objects be present in the scanner. Jewelry and other accessories should be left at home, if possible, or removed prior to the MRI scan. You should also tell the technologist if you have any medical or electronic devices in your body as these objects may interfere with the exam or potentially pose a risk.

An MRI can last from approximately 30 minutes to more than an hour. It is very important that you remain very still during the procedure. Any movement will disrupt the images, much like a camera trying to take a picture of a moving object.

During the exam the scanner produces repetitive tapping, thumping and other noises. Earplugs and music may be provided to help block the noise. In some cases a contrast liquid called gadolinium may be injected through an IV line into a vein in your hand or arm. This contrast liquid helps improve the visibility of certain internal body structures which may be relevant to the scan.

Generally, there is little preparation required, if any, before an MRI scan. Guidelines about eating and drinking before an MRI exam vary with the specific area of the body being scanned. Please refer to the Patient Instructions below for some of the more specialized MRI scans done at VCU Health:

MRI services are conveniently offered at multiple VCU Health locations in the Richmond area. To schedule an MRI exam at VCU Health, please call 804-628-3580.

  • Gateway Building Basement
  • Main Hospital, 3rd Floor
  • Ambulatory Care Center, Lower Level
  • North Hospital Ground Floor
  • Stony Point 9000

CT Scan

A “Computed Tomography” (CT) scan, also known as a “computed axial tomography” or CAT scan, is a noninvasive medical imaging procedure that combines a series of X-ray images taken from different angles around your body to then produce cross-sectional images of your body’s internal structures. Each cross-sectional image represents a “slice” of the person being imaged, much like the slices of a loaf of bread.  CT scan images provide more-detailed information than plain X-rays do.

CT scans can be performed on every region of the body for a variety of reasons:                                           

  • To diagnose muscle and bone disorders such as tumors and fractures
  • To pinpoint location of a tumor, infection or blood clot
  • To detect and monitor diseases and conditions such as heart disease, lung nodules, liver masses and cancer
  • To detect internal injuries and internal bleeding as from trauma

CT scanners are shaped like a very large doughnut standing on its side. The patient will usually lie on their back on a motorized table that slides through the short tunnel opening or doughnut hole. While the table moves you into the scanner, detectors and the X-ray tube rotate around you making a buzzing or whirring noise. Each rotation yields several images of thin slices of your body. When the image slices are reassembled by computer software, the result is a very detailed multidimensional view of the body’s interior.

Sometimes, a contrast agent is used to help show certain internal body structures more clearly. Depending on the section of the body being examined, a contrast agent may be administered by swallowing it, as an enema, or in an intravenous (IV) line in your hand or arm. For instance, if a CT image of the abdomen is required, the patient may be asked to drink a barium liquid which will appear white on the scan as it travels through the digestive system.

During the CT scan, everybody except the patient will leave the scanning room. An intercom system will enable two-way communication between the patient and the technologists.

Generally, there is little preparation required, if any, before a CT scan. Depending on which section of your body is being scanned, you may be asked to:

  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. You may be asked to remove some or all of your clothing and wear a hospital gown
  • Remove metal objects such as a belt, jewelry and eyeglasses, which might interfere with image results
  • Refrain from eating or drinking for a few hours before your scan

Patient Information

CT scans are conveniently offered at multiple VCU Health locations in the Richmond area. To schedule a CT scan at VCU Health, please call 804-628-3580

Ultrasound

The ultrasound technology that gives you the first look at a baby in the womb is the technology that has transformed the practice of medicine. It offers a high-resolution, live picture of what is going on in your body. Our board-certified and fellowship trained specialists, and registered diagnostic medical sonographers, have the expertise to interpret ultrasound images. Our experts can take a close-up, precise and live-action view of what is going on in your body to:

  • Detect blood flow blockages or clots
  • Identify stenosis or narrowing of vessels caused by atherosclerosis
  • Locate tumors, congenital vascular malformations or aneurysms
  • Observe blood flow to organs and tissues throughout the body
  • Confirm that a blood vessel’s grafts or bypasses are working properly
  • Determine the source and severity of varicose veins
  • And much more

Ultrasound allows us to precisely guide catheters and miniaturized instruments to any part of the body through small incisions. It is minimally invasive and virtually pain-free surgery. These image-guided treatments are used for chronic tendon injuries, the placement of clot-blocking IVC filters, or biopsies of the thyroid, lymph node, liver and kidney.

Rather than ionizing radiation, it uses harmless high-frequency sound waves and captures echoes off different types of tissue. Duplex ultrasound imaging, which combines traditional ultrasound to create images and Doppler ultrasound to record sound waves. This technology allows us to see and measure blood moving through veins and arteries in real time. And in the hands and eyes of our experts, the precision of high-resolution ultrasound and the skill to interpret the images on the screen mean that ultrasound not only is safe, but also makes our exams and procedures safer and more accurate. That is why we are proud to have been honored as an ultrasound accredited facility by the American College of Radiology.

ACR

  • We have voluntarily gone through a rigorous review process to be sure it meets nationally accepted standards.
  • We are well-qualified, through education and certification, to perform and interpret your medical images and administer radiation therapy treatments.
  • Our equipment is appropriate for the test or treatment you will receive, and the facility meets or exceeds quality assurance and safety guidelines

We offer easy access to the latest technology and techniques at several of our comfortable and convenient VCU Health locations.

Patient information:

To set up an appointment or refer a patient, call us at (804) 628-6359.