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Imaging

0121 685 4137
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About

Our Imaging Department offers a comprehensive range of diagnostic and interventional procedures to support all aspects of clinical management. The department supports our clinical teams in diagnosis and treatment and uses the latest techniques and equipment to assist in doing so.

Common procedures

MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a type of scan that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body. 

An MRI scanner is a large tube that contains powerful magnets. You lie inside the tube during the scan. An MRI scan can be used to examine almost any part of the body, including:

  • Brain and spinal cord
  • Bones and joints
  • Breasts
  • Heart and blood vessels
  • Internal organs.

The results of an MRI scan can be used to help diagnose conditions, plan treatments and assess how effective previous treatment has been.

What to expect

You should have received and completed a safety questionnaire to complete before you arrive. If you have not completed a safety questionnaire we will ask you complete one. Please be aware that if you answer 'yes' to any of the questions on the form you should contact us to discuss whether you are suitable to receive an MRI.

If you are suitable for an MRI, you will be asked to remove all metallic items and, if necessary, change in to a hospital gown. We'll provide a safe space for your items, although we advise you not to bring valuable items with you. A radiographer will check your safety questionnaire and explain the MRI procedure.

Due to the strong magnetic field, some people may not be suitable for scanning by MRI, including those with:

  • A¬†heart pacemaker
  • An artificial heart valve
  • Metal fragments in the eye, head or body
  • Aneurysm clips (these are metal clips inserted during some operations, especially of the blood vessels in the brain)
  • A¬†suspected pregnancy or you are in the first three months of pregnancy.

If you are unsure about your suitability for an MRI, please contact us on 0121 685 4135.

MRI Arthrogram

Arthrography is medical imaging used to help evaluate and diagnose joint conditions and unexplained pain. It is very effective at detecting disease within the ligaments, tendons and cartilage. It may be indirect, where contrast material is injected into the bloodstream, or direct, where contrast material is injected into the joint.

X-ray

An X-ray is a quick and painless procedure commonly used to produce images of the inside of the body.

It's a very effective way of looking at the bones and can be used to help detect a range of conditions.

X-rays are carried out by trained specialists called radiographers.

How X-rays work

X-rays are a type of radiation that can pass through the body. They can't be seen by the naked eye and you can't feel them.

As they pass through the body, the energy from X-rays is absorbed at different rates by different parts of the body. A detector on the other side of the body picks up the X-rays after they've passed through and turns them into an image.

Dense parts of your body that X-rays find it more difficult to pass through, such as bone, show up as clear white areas on the image. Softer parts that X-rays can pass through more easily, such as your heart and lungs, show up as darker areas.

Preparing for an X-ray

You don't usually need to do anything special to prepare for an X-ray. You can eat and drink as normal beforehand and can continue taking your usual medications.

For all X-rays, you should let the hospital know if you're pregnant. X-rays aren't usually recommended if you're pregnant unless it's an emergency.

It's a good idea to wear loose comfortable clothes, as you may be able to wear these during the X-ray. Try to avoid wearing jewellery and clothes containing metal (such as zips), as these will need to be removed.

Having an X-ray

During an X-ray, you'll usually be asked to lie on a table or stand against a flat surface so that the part of your body being examined can be positioned in the right place.

The X-ray machine, which looks like a tube containing a large light bulb, will be carefully aimed at the part of the body being examined by the radiographer. They will operate the machine from behind a screen or from the next room.

The X-ray will last for a fraction of a second. You won't feel anything while it's carried out.

While the X-ray is being taken, you'll need to keep still so the image produced isn't blurred. More than one X-ray may be taken from different angles to provide as much information as possible.

The procedure will usually only take a few minutes.

Are X-rays safe?

People are often concerned about being exposed to radiation during an X-ray. However, the part of your body being examined will only be exposed to a low level of radiation for a fraction of a second.

Generally, the amount of radiation you're exposed to during an X-ray is the equivalent to between a few days and a few years of exposure to natural radiation from the environment.

Being exposed to X-rays does carry a risk of causing cancer many years or decades later, but this risk is thought to be very small.

For example, an X-ray of your chest, limbs or teeth is equivalent to a few days' worth of background radiation, and has less than a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of causing cancer. For more information, see GOV.UK: patient dose information.

The benefits and risks of having an X-ray will be weighed up before it's recommended. Talk to your doctor or radiographer about the potential risks beforehand, if you have any concerns.

Ultrasound

An ultrasound scan, sometimes called a sonogram, is a procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of part of the inside of the body.

An ultrasound scan can be used to diagnose a condition, or guide a surgeon during certain procedures.

How ultrasound scans work

A small device called an ultrasound probe is used, which gives off high-frequency sound waves.

You can't hear these sound waves, but when they bounce off different parts of the body, they create "echoes" that are picked up by the probe and turned into a moving image.

This image is displayed on a monitor while the scan is carried out.

Preparing for an ultrasound scan

Before having some types of ultrasound scan, you may be asked to follow certain instructions to help improve the quality of the images produced.

Depending on the area of your body being examined, the hospital may ask you to remove some clothing and wear a hospital gown.

There are no known risks from the sound waves used in an ultrasound scan. Unlike some other scans, such as CT scans, ultrasound scans don't involve exposure to radiation.

Are there any risks?

External and internal ultrasound scans don't have any side effects and are generally painless, although you may experience some discomfort as the probe is pressed over your skin.

CT (Computerised Tomography) Scan

A computerised tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the inside of the body.  

CT scans are sometimes referred to as CAT scans or computed tomography scans.

They're carried out in hospital by specially trained operators called radiographers, and can be done while you're staying in hospital or during a short visit.

When CT scans are used

CT scans can produce detailed images of many structures inside the body, including the internal organs, blood vessels and bones.

They can be used to:

  • diagnose conditions¬†‚Äď including¬†damage to¬†bones,¬†injuries to internal organs, problems with blood flow,¬†stroke,¬†and¬†cancer
  • guide¬†further tests or treatments¬†‚Äď for example, CT scans can help determine the location, size and shape of a tumour before having¬†radiotherapy, or allow a doctor to¬†take a¬†needle¬†biopsy¬†(where a small tissue sample is removed using a needle) or drain an¬†abscess
  • monitor conditions¬†‚Äď including checking the size of tumours during and after cancer treatment

Preparing for a CT scan

Your appointment letter will mention anything you need to do to prepare for your scan.

You may be advised to avoid eating anything for several hours before your appointment to help make sure clear images are taken.

Safety of CT scans

CT scans are quick, painless and generally safe. The amount of radiation you're exposed to during a CT scan varies, depending on how much of your body is scanned.

CT scanners are designed to make sure you're not exposed to unnecessarily high levels.

Generally, the amount of radiation you're exposed to during each scan is equivalent to between a few months and a few years of exposure to natural radiation from the environment.

It's thought exposure to radiation during CT scans could slightly increase your chances of developing cancer many years later, although this risk is thought to be very small (less than 1 in 2,000).

For more information, read GOV.UK: patient dose information.

The benefits and risks of having a CT scan will always be weighed up before it's recommended.

Talk to your doctor or radiographer about the potential risks beforehand if you have any concerns.

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Out of hours service

Please note, the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital has a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) for the provision of emergency out-of-hours diagnostic services. If you wish to refer, please contact UHB directly.

Out-of-hours service: X-RAY

A single-handed X-ray on-call radiographer is available via Switchboard for inpatients and limited outpatients.

Monday: 8am - 6pm

Tuesday: 8am - 6pm

Wednesday: 8am - 6pm

Thursday: 8am - 5pm

Friday: 8am - 5pm

Saturday: 9am - 12:30pm

Sunday: 9am - 12:30pm

Out-of-hours service: CT SCAN

A single-handed X-ray on-call radiographer is available via Switchboard for inpatients and limited outpatients.

Monday: 9am - 12:30pm

Tuesday: 9am - 12:30pm

Wednesday: Interventional

Thursday: Interventional 

Friday: 9am - 12:30pm

Saturday: 9am - 12:30pm

Sunday: No out of hours service

Out-of-hours service: MRI

A single MRI radiographer is on-call for spinal emergency consultant referrals only.

Monday: 7:30am - 8pm

Tuesday: 7:30am - 8pm

Wednesday: 7:30am - 8pm

Thursday: 7:30am - 8pm

Friday: 7:30am - 8pm

Saturday: 9am - 5pm

Sunday: 9am - 5pm

Out-of-hours service: ULTRASOUND

Monday: 9:30am - 4:30pm

Tuesday: 9:30am - 4:30pm

Wednesday: 9:30am - 4:30pm

Thursday: :30am - 4:30pm

Friday: 7:30am - 8pm

Saturday: No out of hours service

Sunday: No out of hours service

Out-of-hours service: THEATRES

Monday: 8:30am - 5pm

Tuesday: 8:30am - 5pm

Wednesday: 8:30am - 5pm

Thursday: 8:30am - 5pm

Friday: 8:30am - 5pm

Saturday: A single-handed X-ray on-call radiographer is available out-of-hours. They can be contacted via the Switchboard.

Sunday: A single-handed X-ray on-call radiographer is available out-of-hours. They can be contacted via the Switchboard.