Outpatient Services

Diagnostic Radiology
Non-Invasive Cardiovascular Imaging, CT Scans, MRIs, Ultrasounds, Sonograms, Nuclear Medicine, Mammography, Bone Density Scans

The Diagnostic Radiology Department at HMC has a long history of providing a full range of imaging services, from traditional x-rays to state-of-the-art scanning procedures. HMC's highly trained team of diagnostic radiologists uses sophisticated techniques to create images of the entire body and its organs.  

Those images are often critical in diagnosing and treating a multitude of patient injuries, diseases, and disorders. Radiologic technologists are licensed medical professionals who perform diagnostic imaging examinations. They are educated in anatomy, patient positioning techniques, equipment protocols, radiation safety and basic patient care. Technologists often specialize in a particular diagnostic imaging area, such as CT, MR, breast imaging, interventional radiology, nuclear medicine or ultrasound imaging.

Radiology Services Performed At HMC:


X-Ray is the most common type of diagnostic imaging and is used for more than just detecting a fractured bone. Fluoroscopy, a more advanced form of x-Ray allows doctors to see images in real time. X-Ray is used for:

  • Skeletal imaging
  • Upper GI exam
  • Lower GI exam
  • Small bowel study
  • Esophagram barium swallow

Non-Invasive Cardiovascular Imaging

Diagnostic radiology at HMC provides comprehensive imaging and image-guided interventional heart and vascular procedures. Our strict standards for education and training of physicians and technologists, as well as requirements for quality control and safety have earned HMC’s Non-Invasive Vascular Lab national recognition and accreditation by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC). Find more information on HMC's Vascular Lab here.


CT Scan (Computed Tomography)
CT scans use a combination of x-rays and advanced computer technology to produce more detailed cross-sectional, horizontal, vertical, and 3D views of the body, including bones, muscles, fat, organs, and blood vessels. Our diagnostic team works in tandem to assure that all CT scans are of outstanding quality and uses newly developed algorithms that reduce patient x-ray exposure.


MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses a powerful magnetic field and radio frequency pulse to produce detailed images of the internal organs, soft tissues, and bones. Most procedures are noninvasive; however, some require a contrast injection of an agent called gadolinium. The contrast allows the physician to visualize many different types of tissues, abnormalities, and disease processes.  The result is an image showing details of the structure and functionality of specific organs and internal body parts.

Ultrasound and Sonogram

Ultrasound imaging, also known as sonography, exposes parts of the body to high-frequency sound waves that produce pictures of the inside of the body. Because images are captured in real-time, they are able to show the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels.

These images allow physicians to diagnose and treat certain medical conditions and detect changes in the appearance and function of organs, tissues, or abnormal masses.

Specialized ultrasound procedures are used to evaluate blood flow to detect to detect blood clots or blockage that could cause a stroke and/or to diagnose heart disease.  Ultrasound-guided procedures also are used for biopsies and to drain fluid. Our ultrasound technologists are certified in obstetric, abdomen and vascular ultrasound. Ultrasound is used to evaluate:

  • Gallbladder
  • Liver
  • Spleen
  • Pancreas
  • Kidney (renal ultrasound)
  • Arteries and veins
  • Thyroid
  • Reproductive organs in women (transvaginal ultrasound)
  • Fetal size and movement
  • Testicular tumors
  • Breast tumors
  • Newborn conditions
  • Neonatal head ultrasound
  • Neonatal hip ultrasound
  • Structures underneath the skin, such as a hematoma

Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine uses very small amounts of radioactive materials injected into specific areas of the body, commonly called tracers, to examine the function and structure of organs, including the heart, kidneys, thyroid, and brain. This specialized type of imaging is often used to help diagnose and treat many different medical conditions and diseases.

Nuclear Medicine is used for:

  • Thyroid imaging and treating thyroid cancer
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Kidney imaging
  • Sentinel lymph node scan for breast cancer
  • Lung function for pulmonary diseases
  • Cardiovascular disease

Breast Imaging (Mammography)

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast, which is used to detect and diagnose breast diseases. There are two different types of mammograms. The most common is a screening mammogram, which is used to detect small growths in the breast even before they can be felt. Screening mammograms can be scheduled without a doctor’s order if you are 40 or older. A diagnostic mammogram is used to diagnose breast abnormalities, such as a lump, breast pain, nipple thickening, or a change in breast size or shape. If an abnormality is detected in a screening mammogram, you may need a diagnostic mammogram.

Most medical experts agree that successful treatment of breast cancer is linked to early diagnosis. Mammography is critical for the early detection of breast cancer. Digital mammography can sometimes detect abnormalities in the breast two years before a patient or physician can feel them.

Current guidelines recommend mammography every year for women, beginning at age 40. Generally, the procedure is brief and discomfort is minimal.

How do I prepare for the exam?
Before scheduling a mammogram, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and other specialty organizations recommend that you discuss any new findings or problems in your breasts with your doctor. In addition, inform your doctor of any prior surgeries, hormone use, and family or personal history of breast cancer. Do not schedule your mammogram for the week before your period if your breasts are usually tender during this time. The best time for a mammogram is one week following your period. Always inform your doctor or mammography technologist if there is any possibility that you are pregnant.

It is also recommended that you:

  • Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of the exam. These can appear on the mammogram as calcium spots.
  • Describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist performing the exam.
  • Obtain any previous mammograms from other facilities so that the radiologist is able to use them as comparison to your current exam.

Mammogram FAQ

Bone Density Scan (DEXA)
Dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is the preferred technique for measuring bone mineral density (BMD).  DXA has also been called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, or DEXA.  DXA is relatively easy to perform and the amount of radiation exposure is low. A DXA scanner is a machine that produces two

x-ray beams, each with different energy levels. One beam is high energy while the other is low energy. The amount of x-rays that pass through the bone is measured for each beam. This will vary depending on the thickness of the bone. Based on the difference between the two beams, the bone density can be measured.

DXA scanning focuses on two main areas, the hip, and spine. In certain situations,  if the hip or spine can’t be measured, it is measured in the forearm. Although osteoporosis involves the whole body, measurements of BMD at one site can be predictive of fractures at other sites. Scanning generally takes 10 to 20 minutes to complete and is painless and noninvasive.

Our DEXA Scan provides unparalleled precision and accuracy in the early detection and treatment of osteoporosis, including the detection of low bone mineral density and the presence of vertebral fractures. During your DEXA Scan procedure, we check for hip biomechanical strength which can identify patients at risk for osteoporosis and vertebral fractures.

The Importance of Bone Density Testing
Osteoporosis is often called the “silent disease,” because it doesn’t produce symptoms until a fracture occurs. The bones most likely to break are the hip, spine, and forearm. In fact, 1 in 2 women and 1 in 8 men are at risk for fracture or have at least one spinal fracture and don’t know it.

Spinal fractures caused by osteoporosis are most often painless, greatly increasing the risk for future fractures. A woman’s risk of hip fracture alone equals her combined risk of developing breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer.

The diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis begins with an objective measurement of your current bone density. Today, when doctors detect bone loss in the earliest stage, treatment is more successful. And, several drug therapies now on the market have been shown to be effective in slowing down or reversing the bone loss process.

What to expect during your exam
During a comprehensive bone heath assessment, you will lay comfortably on a padded table while the dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) unit scans two or more areas, usually the fracture-prone hip and spine. Unlike typical x-ray machines, radiation exposure during bone densitometry is extremely low. The entire process takes only minutes to complete. It involves no injections or invasive procedures.

Preparing for a DEXA Scan
Unless instructed otherwise, eat normally on the day of the exam, but do avoid taking calcium supplements for at least 24 hours prior to your appointment.

Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Sweat suits and other casual attire without zippers, buttons, grommets, or any metal are preferred.

You should not have had a barium study, radioisotope injection, oral or intravenous contrast material from a CT scan or MRI within seven days prior to your DXA test.

Am I at increased risk of developing osteoporosis?  Your chances of developing osteoporosis are greater if you are female and answer “yes” to any of the following questions:

Are you …?

  • Fair skinned
  • Thin or small framed
  • Approaching or past menopause
  • Milk intolerant or have a low calcium intake
  • A Cigarette smoker
  • Excessive in alcohol intake
  • Taking thyroid medication or steroid-based drugs for asthma, arthritis, or cancer

Do you have...?

  • A family history of osteoporosis
  • Chronic intestinal disorders
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Eating disorders

If you answer “yes” to any of the above questions, you may benefit from a Bone Density Test at Hopedale Medical Complex. Please contact us for more information.