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Diagnostic Imaging: Auto Injury Recovery

Why Imaging is Important

After an accident or injury, the first and most important step is to have your regular doctor or the emergency room personnel perform a physical examination and update your medical history. Imaging will help with the diagnosis of injury but cannot replace the physical examination.  Imaging helps prove that your injuries are tied to the car accident. If imaging is taken too late, auto insurance companies will refuse to pay for said injuries as too much time has elapsed to prove a direct correlation between the injury found in imaging and the car accident. 

Benefits of Imaging:

Early Detection of Injury

Accurate Diagnosis of Underlying Issues

Once a diagnosis is made, effective treatment can be recommended

X-ray

X-rays are commonly used to check for fractures or broken bones. Additionally, X-rays can reveal pneumonia, breast cancer, and infections. X-rays use electromagnetic waves to create pictures of the inside of your body. These pictures show in black and white because different tissues absorb different amounts of electromagnetic waves. Bones absorb the most so bones look white on the image. Fat and soft tissues absorb less and look gray. Air absorbs the least so lungs appear as black. 

When you have an x-ray you’ll likely have to take off jewelry, glasses, or any metal objects or clothing that may get in the way of the image. Images can be taken while you stand or lie down, depending on the area to be examined. You won’t feel anything during an x-ray but you will need to hold still during the exam. When the image is taken you may be asked to hold your breath. This prevents the image from blurring. Sometimes, the doctor may administer a contrast injection or have you swallow a dose. 

Advantages:

Quick Test

Non-invasive

Painless 

Help Diagnose Various Diseases and Injuries 

Disadvantages:

Small Risk of Cancer 

CT Scans

CT Scans use multiple X-rays to produce detailed cross-sectional images of the body. These images can detect bone and joint problems, live masses, heart disease, cancer, lung damage, internal injuries, internal bleeding, and can help locate a tumor, infection, blood clots or infections. During the scan, you’ll lie still on a table that passes slowly through the center of a large X-ray machine. For some scans, you may need to receive a contrast dye, which makes your body show up better in the images. Unlike an x-ray, CT Scans can show organs and tissues as well as bones. 

For the scan, you will need to wear a hospital gown and remove any metal objects including jewelry. During the scan, you’ll lie on a table inside a large, doughnut-shaped machine. Once inside, an x-ray will rotate around your body taking images. You’ll hear whirring and buzzing noise. You’ll need to stay still throughout the duration of the scan which can take a few minutes to a half-hour depending on the scanned area. 

Advantages:

Quick

Painless

Diagnoses a wider range of conditions than the X-ray

Can detect the presence of serious problems

Can check if a previously treated disease has recurred

Disadvantages:

Small increased risk of cancer

Uses higher doses of Radiation than X-rays

MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique that uses a magnetic field and computer-generated radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues in your body. When you lie inside an MRI machine, the magnetic field temporarily realigns water molecules in your body. Radio waves cause these aligned atoms to produce faint signals, which create cross-sectional MRI images.MRIs can help evaluate joint abnormalities, disk abnormalities in the spine, bone infections, and tumors. 

Before the MRI, you will change into a provided metalless outfit. You’ll need to remove any jewelry or metal prior to the scan. The duration of the procedure will vary but the average is 45 minutes to one hour per body part. You will be required to lie still during the actual MRI scanning. Depending on the body part that is being examined, you may be instructed to hold your breath for up to 30 seconds. 

During the actual imaging, you will hear a loud intermittent banging noise. You will be provided with earplugs or headphones to minimize the noise during the procedure. The technologist will also provide you with an alarm button to alert the technologist of any discomfort you may experience at any point during the MRI exam. 

Advantages

Doesn’t use Radiation

Non-invasive

Painless

More Detailed Images than CT Scans or X-rays

Disadvantages:

30 minutes or more per body part

Expensive

Lengthy and Noisy

Slight Movement can ruin the image

May Cause Claustrophobia

Not Everyone can Have this Imaging

Nuclear Medicine Imaging

Nuclear medicine or positron emission tomography (PEM) uses radioactive substances to see structures and functions inside of your body. Before the test, you’ll swallow or receive an injection of radioactive material. You’ll then lie on a table while a special camera that detects radioactivity makes images. Most nuclear medicine imaging tests take 20-45 minutes. These scans can help doctors diagnose conditions such as cancers, injuries, infections, and show how well your heart and lungs are working. 

Advantages

Painless

Can Show How Body Parts Are Functioning

Earlier Detection of Problems

Checks how far Cancer has Spread

Disadvantages

Exposure to Ionizing Radiation

Claustrophobia with Scan may Occur

Risk of Allergic Reaction to Radioactive Material

Ultrasound

An ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the organs, soft tissues, and bones of a body. These images are produced on a screen. With these images, doctors can view and receive information regarding the heart, blood vessels, bladder, kidneys, liver, and other organs. Additionally, an ultrasound monitor blood rate and levels along with abnormalities in the thyroid, kidneys, gallbladder, and heart. For women, an ultrasound can examine breast lumps o determine whether or not they are cancerous. For men, an ultrasound can diagnose disorders of the prostate gland.

Advantages:

Safe

Relatively Painless

Doesn’t use Radiation

No Injections Required

Usually Non-Invasive

Relatively Inexpensive

Disadvantages:

30-60 Minute Test

Quality of the Image Depends on the Skill

Air and Calcified areas of the body can affect the Image

Use of a Probe is Require for the Esophagus, Rectum or Vagina

You may need to fast or have a full bladder 

Costs

CT Scan $300-$6750

The average cost in the U.S. is $3,275

X-ray $55- $410 without insurance $100-$1000

On average, X-rays cost $260-$460.

Ultrasound $55-$410

In ultrasound facilities,  the average cost is $99-$300 while ultrasounds at the hospital may run $200-$1000. 

NM $135-$1138

MRI $165-$2048

The average cost of an MRI in the U.S. is $2,611. 

How do I Pay for it? 

If your injuries are from a car accident, pedestrian accident, or other accident involving automobiles, the at-fault party’s insurance will be responsible for offering a settlement to cover the cost of reasonable and necessary medical procedures and care.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before Imaging:

How will this test benefit me? 

What are the risks?

What happens if I don’t choose to have imaging done?

How much will it cost? 

Will I need to do anything to prepare for this test? 

Were you or someone you know involved in a recent auto accident? Call Auto Accident Care Network now at 801-683-1948 to be connected with a live care advocate. Our team at AACN can connect you to trusted attorneys and doctors to schedule a free legal consultation, a free thirty-minute massage, and a no-cost medical exam

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