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Diagnostic Imaging

Imaging Services Available at NVHC

North Valley Health Center proudly offers a wide range of diagnostic imaging services, including:

All of the diagnostic imaging exams performed at NVHC are read by Consulting Radiologists, LTD (CRL). CRL is a Minnesota-based physician-owned practice with 70 board certified radiologists that represent all imaging subspecialities that North Valley Health Center proudly offers.

Bone Density (DEXA Scan) FAQ

What is bone densitometry and how does it work?

Bone densitometry (Bone Density or DEXA for short) safely, accurately and painlessly measures bone density or mass and the mineral content of bone. During a comprehensive bone evaluation with Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry: (DEXA), the patient lies comfortably on a padded table while a DEXA unit scans the spine and hip.


What is the purpose of a bone density scan?

The diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis begins with this objective, quantifiable measurement of your bone mass or bone density.


Who should get a bone density scan?

Women who are post-menopausal, men over the age of 70, women and men who may suspect osteposisis or osteopenia, women or men who: 

  • Have a very low body weight

  • Have had one or more fractures after the age of 50

  • Have lost a half inch or more in height within one year


Where will the scan be done?

Your bone density scan will be performed by the DMS Mobile Imaging Service. The equipment is transported to our facility by a special truck.  You will be escorted out to the truck in the NVHC parking lot by a trained technologist and positioned on the scanning table.


When is the bone density service provided?

The DMS Mobile Imaging Service is here with the DEXA equipment every 4th Tuesday. You must have an appointment to receive a bone density exam. 


How long will the scan take?

The procedure will last approximately 15-20 minutes. You will be able to remain clothed, but will be asked to remove any belts or metal objects.


How safe is DEXA?

DEXA is very safe. Unlike typical x-ray machines, radiation exposure during bone densitometry is extremely low. It involves no injections or invasive procedures.


Will the scan be covered by my insurance?

Bone Density Scans are covered by most insurances. However, it is best to call your insurance company prior to find out if your scan will be covered.


What is a CT Scan and how does it work?

A CT Scan is a computerized X-ray that produces cross-sectional pictures of the head or body. You will be placed on a narrow table which will move you slowly through the scanner. During this time a sequence of pictures are being taken. It is important to hold your breath when asked to do so. Some CT Scans require an injection of a contrast media through an IV site in your arm. Other scans require drinking a special liquid before being scanned.


Who should get a CT Scan?

Patients who have:

  • Suspicions of cancer

  • Any abnormalities

  • Any fractures

  • Lung Modules

  • Experienced a stroke

  • Experienced bowel or intestinal issues

  • Been referred by their physician


How long will the scan take?

The procedure will last up to 30 minutes. Most exams take less than 20 minutes. You will be able to remain clothed, but will be asked to remove any belts or metal objects. For some scans you may be asked to put on a gown.


Where will the scan be done?

Your CT Scan will be performed at North Valley Health Center by the Radiology personnel. The CT Scan equipment is now located within our facility.


When is the CT Scan service provided?

CT Scans are available by appointment Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.


Is a CT Scan covered by insurance?

Some CT Scans are covered by insurance. However, it is best to check with your insurance prior to the scan.

Digital Mammography & 3-D Mammography FAQ

What is mammography?

Mammography is an X-ray technique used to visualize the internal structures of the breast. Approximately 2 million women in the United States have mammograms each year. Mammography performed by an accredited and FDA certified mammographic imaging provider is the most reliable method currently used to detect breast cancer and compliments physical examination for screening women who have no symptoms. Our mammographic imaging program is FDA certified and as such follows all FDA guidelines. These guidelines include the proper use of breast compression, which increases the visibility of the small details in the image, and reduces the amount of X-ray radiation needed to produce the image.


Who should get a mammogram?

Following the American College of Radiology and Society of Breast Imaging guidelines, it is recommended that every woman 40 years and older begins receiving annual screenings. Some women, because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or other factors, should be screened at an earlier time or with varying frequency. Please talk with your trusted provider and follow their suggestions for screening, as you may need earlier or more frequent testing. While screening cannot prevent breast cancer, it can help find breast cancer early when it is easier to treat.


What is the difference between a traditional 2-D mammogram and a 3-D mammogram?

We now offer 3-D Mammograms, also called tomosynthesis. 3-D Mammograms use the same X-ray technology and method as a 2-D Mammogram but there are some differences. With 2-D Mammograms images are only taken from the front and side and the advanced 3-D imaging takes many pictures from several angles. A computer then produces a 3-D image that can be sliced and scrolled through, like pages in a book. This means that the radiologist can examine your breast tissue layer by layer and makes it easier to find potentially worrisome abnormalities.


When and where will the mammography be done?

DMS Mobile Imaging Service performs Digital Mammograms at North Valley Health Center every other Wednesday.


How long will the mammogram take?

The exam will last approximately 20 minutes. We ask that you check in at the reception desk 10 minutes prior to your exam.


How safe is mammography?

Mammography is very safe. Radiation exposure during the mammogram is extremely low. The procedure involves no injections or invasive procedures.


Will insurance cover a mammogram?

Most insurances cover Mammograms. However, it is best to call your insurance in advance to see if a 3-D Mammogram will be covered. If you wish to not have a 3-D Mammogram or if your insurance doesn’t fully cover them, 2-D is still available.

Digital X-Ray FAQ

Who should get an X-Ray?

Patients who have:

  • Pain 

  • Suspicions of a fractured bone

  • Arthritis

  • Chest pain

  • Foreign objects within their body

  • Calcium and dental issues

  • Been recommended by their provider


How long does an X-ray take?

An X-ray procedure may take only a few minutes.


Where is the X-ray done?

Your X-ray will be done in the X-ray department located within North Valley Health Center.


What is the difference between a traditional X-ray and a Digital x-ray?

The advantages of a Digital X-ray over a traditional X-ray is:

  • It’s faster

  • We can view images instantly on a computer screen

  • We can enhance images in a variety of ways to improve viewing

  • Images can be stored electronically for instant retrieval in the future, if needed

  • We avoid the chemicals used in the traditional developing process


Are X-rays covered by insurance?

Some X-rays are covered by insurance. However, it is best to call your insurance company in advance.

Ultrasound FAQ

What is ultrasound?

Ultrasound imaging is a procedure that uses high frequency sound waves to develop images of internal structures and tissues. In most ultrasound procedures, a small, hand-held device called a transducer is used to scan the area of the body being examined. The transducer functions as both a generator of sound and a receiver. When it is placed on the skin, it directs sound waves into the body. As the sound waves echo off the body’s tissues and fluids, the transducer records the reflected waves. The echoes are instantly displayed on a screen.


Who should get an ultrasound?

Patients who are:

  • Pregnant

  • Having abdominal pain

  • Having thyroid issues

  • Suspicious of a blood clot due to leg pain

  • Having kidney or bladder issues

  • Experiencing stroke symptoms

  • Experiencing elevated blood flow, pelvic pain, or other menstral cycle problems

  • Recommended by their provider


What parts of the body can be examined by ultrasound?

Gallbladder, liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, scrotum, breast, thyroid, carotid arteries, aorta, uterus and ovaries. Leg veins can be examined for thrombus. Prenatal OB ultrasounds can also be done on a developing fetus.


Where is the ultrasound done?

The ultrasound examination will be done in the radiology department at North Valley Health Center. The scan will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes.


Who will perform the ultrasound?

A trained Ultrasound Technologist will perform your ultrasound.


Does ultrasound cause any pain or discomfort?

There is usually no pain associated with an ultrasound, though there may be some mild discomfort. Some exams require a full urinary bladder. If you are having a pelvic or early OB ultrasound, you may be uncomfortable from the fullness of your urinary bladder.


When is ultrasound provided at NVHC?

By appointment only, Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.


Will an ultrasound be covered by insurance?

Some ultrasounds are covered by insurance. However, you should call your insurance in advance to see if it is covered.

Echocardiography FAQ

What is an Echocardiogram?

Echocardiogram or echo, is a painless test that uses sound waves to create images of your heart. They also show how well your heart’s chambers and valves are working.

Echo can pinpoint areas of heart muscle that aren’t contracting well due to poor blood flow or injury from a previous heart attack. Echo can also detect possible blood clots inside the heart, fluid buildup in the pericardium (sac around the heart), and problems with the aorta. The aorta is the main artery that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to your body.


Who needs echocardiography?

Your provider may recommend an echo if you have signs or symptoms of heart problems. For example, shortness of breath and swelling in the legs are possible signs of heart failure. Heart failure is a condition in which your heart can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs. Echo can show how well your heart is pumping blood.

Echo can also help your provider find the cause of abnormal heart sounds, such as heart murmurs. Heart murmurs are extra or unusual sounds heard during the heartbeat. Some heart murmurs are harmless, while others are signs of heart problems.


Your provider may also use echo to learn about:

  • The size of your heart. An enlarged heart may be the result of high blood pressure, leaky heart valves, or heart failure. Echo can also detect increased thickness of the ventricles. This may be due to high blood pressure, heart valve disease, or congenital heart defects.

  • Heart muscles that are weak and not pumping well. Damage from a heart attack may cause weak areas of heart muscle. Weakening also might mean that the area isn’t getting enough blood supply, a sign of coronary heart disease.

  • Heart valve problems. Echo can show whether any of your heart valves don’t open or close tightly.

  • Problems with your heart’s structure. Echo can detect congenital heart defects, such as holes in the heart. Congenital heart defects are structural problems present at birth.

  • Blood clots or tumors. If you’ve had a stroke, you may have an echo to check for blood clots or tumors that could have caused the stroke.


Where will the Echocardiogram take place?

The echo will be performed at North Valley Health Center here in Warren. You will check in at the front desk and register about 10 minutes prior to your scheduled time. This is currently being done by a mobile service, DMS. You will be scanned in a room here at the hospital and they will bring their portable machine to you.

What should I do to prepare for an echocardiogram?

There is no prep for this exam. You may eat, drink, and take any medications you normally would take prior to the exam.

What should I expect during my echocardiogram?

Echocardiogram is painless, the test usually takes up to 45 minutes.

You will be asked to remove your clothing from the waist up. Women will be given a gown to wear during the test. You will lie on your back and left side on an exam table or stretcher.


Soft, sticky patches called electrodes will be attached to your chest to allow an EKG (electrocardiogram) to be done. An EKG is a test that records the heart’s electrical activity.


The sonographer (person specialized in ultrasounds) will apply gel to your chest. The gel helps the sound waves reach your heart. A wand-like device called a transducer will then be moved around on your chest.


The transducer transmits ultrasound waves into your chest. A computer will convert echoes from the sound waves into pictures of your heart on a screen. During the test, the lights will be dimmed so the computer screen is easier to see.


The sonographer will record pictures of various parts of your heart. He or she will put the recordings on a disc for a cardiologist (heart specialist) to review.


During the test, you may be asked to hold your breath for a short time. This allows the sonographer to get better pictures of your heart.


When is the Echo service provided?

The DMS Imaging Service is at North Valley Health Center every Thursday.


How and when will I get my results?

You will get your results from your provider that orders the echo. It may take up to a week or so as it is sent to a cardiologist to be read.


What is MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a sophisticated and highly accurate imaging technique used to diagnose diseases of the brain, spine, skeleton, chest, abdomen, pelvis, and blood vessels. With a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer, MRI produces detailed cross-sectional pictures of your internal organs and structures without using ionizing radiation.


During your exam, you will lie on a table and a “coil” will be placed under your body. This coil helps direct the magnetic energy to a specific body part. The table will move you into a tunnel-like opening. The amount of your body that is actually in the tunnel will depend upon the body part being examined. Very simply, the tunnel-like opening is surrounded by a magnet that helps to create images of your body. Your Doctor will use those images to make an accurate diagnosis and plan your treatment as necessary.


Additional information about what you can expect follows. If you have any additional questions about your MRI exam, please contact your physician or a member of our staff.


Who should get an MRI?

Patients whom have:

  • Joint pain

  • Spine issues

  • Radiculopathy torn cartilage or ligaments

  • Questionable infections

  • Experienced a stroke

  • Tumors

  • Been recommended by their provider


What can I expect?

An MRI exam generally takes between 30 minutes and an hour. The length of your exam will depend on the type of study your doctor has ordered. Due to different coils and the details required, only one body part is examined at a time. If your doctor orders more than one scan, an additional 30 minutes is usually needed for each area.

The technologist will help you lie on your back on a cushioned scanning table. You will be given pillows or cushions for comfort. You may also be provided with ear plugs or headphones with music to help block out the noises.


Once you are completely comfortable, the technologist will position a device, called a “coil” over or under you. The coil helps produce the clearest picture of the area it covers.


When you are properly positioned, the table will slide into the opening of the machine and the exam will begin. It’s important that you remain as still as possible throughout the exam. You won’t feel a thing, but you will hear thumping or knocking sound for several minutes at a time. This is completely normal.


If you become uncomfortable or have questions at any time, you’ll be able to communicate with the technologist through a built-in intercom. When the exam is complete, the technologist will help you off the table and you’ll collect your personal belongings.


Will I need an injection?

In some cases, your doctor may order a contrast agent to enhance the images. If a contrast agent is used, it will be injected into a vein in your arm. While the contrast agent used in MRI is very safe, it is important that you tell your doctor and the technologist performing the scan if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, kidney or liver disease, kidney failure, are on dialysis, or if you have had a kidney transplant. It is also important that you tell the technologist performing the exam if you are currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments (within last 2 weeks).


How do I prepare for my MRI?

Metallic objects limit the accuracy of MRI, and the magnetic field can interfere with some surgically implanted devices. If any of the following apply to you, tell your doctor:

  • Pregnancy

  • Cardiac pacemaker or stimulator

  • Metallic implant

  • Implanted insulin pump or infusion pump

  • If you are a metal worker

  • Inner ear implant

  • Previous gunshot wound

  • Joint or bone pins or replacements

  • Permanent tattoos or eyeliner

  • Aneurysm clips or brain surgery


Other than limiting the amount of fluids you drink on the day of the exam, you do not need to make any special preparations.

  • Wear comfortable clothing without metal, if possible, especially near the area being scanned.

  • Eat and take any prescription medications as usual, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

  • Bring a current list of all your medications to your appointment.

  • Leave items such as watches, credit cards, pocketknives, jewelry, hearing aids, or any other metallic items at home or give them to the technologist for safekeeping.

  • Avoid wearing eye makeup if your head is being scanned (many eye shadows contain metallic flakes).

  • If you’d like, ask a friend or relative to accompany you.

  • Plan to arrive 20 minutes before your exam to provide medical and insurance information.

  • If you are afraid of closed-in spaces, tell your doctor in advance. Your doctor can prescribe a sedative to help you relax. In that case, you will need someone to drive you home after the exam.

  • If you feel you will be unable to remain still for 30 to 60 minutes due to pain, please inform your physician.


Where will the scan be done?

Your MRI scan will be performed by the DMS Mobile Imaging Service. The scanner is located out on a truck that comes to North Valley Health Center parking lot. You will be escorted out to the truck by a trained technologist.


When is the MRI service provided?

The DMS Imaging Service is at North Valley Health Center every Thursday.


How do I get the results?

After your MRI scan, your images are sent to a physician who specializes in the review of these images.This physician will prepare a report that is shared with your doctor (the doctor that ordered the MRI exam). Your doctor will consider this information and is responsible for contacting you with the results. He or she can answer any questions you may have about your results at that time.

What can I expect after my exam?


Following your MRI, you can resume your normal activities. (Please contact your doctor if you have any questions about your intended activities, or if you have any questions about restricted activities.)


If you were given an injection of contrast media as part of your MRI today, you should:

  • Drink an extra 24 ounces of water (three extra glasses).

  • Contact your physician immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

  • Slow or irregular heartbeat

  • Any other sudden change that concerns you

  • Your injection of contrast media required a puncture through your skin. Even though proper steps were taken to prevent infection as a result of this skin puncture, an infection in this area is possible. Please seek medical care if:

  • The injection site becomes red, painful to the touch, or hot to the touch.

  • A lump that was not present when you finished your scan develops at the injection site, or a small lump that was present becomes larger over time.

If you were given (or took) a sedative for this exam, please do not drive or operate machinery until its effects have worn off. Please contact your doctor with any questions.

Cardiolite Stress Test FAQ

What is a cardiolite stress test?

A cardiolite stress test uses radioisotope (Cardiolite) and exercises (Stress) to assess the amount of blood reaching your heart muscle. A special camera takes images of your heart after the injection of the Cardiolite and again after a period of exercise. It can identify blocked coronary arteries or areas of heart muscle lacking adequate blood supply. It may be used to evaluate the effectiveness of coronary bypass or angioplasty.

Who should get a cardiolite stress test?

Patients who have:

  • Chest pain

  • Abnormal EKG results

  • High blood pressure

  • Known heart conditions

  • Been recommended by their provider


Where will the stress test be done?

The test will start in the Physical Therapy Department at North Valley Health Center. The scan of your heart will be performed by the DMS Mobile Imaging Service. The equipment is transported to our facility by a special truck. You will be escorted out to the truck in the North Valley Health Center parking lot by a technologist.


When is the stress test service provided?

Stress tests are performed every other Wednesday.


How is the test performed?

You will register in the Physical Therapy Department at NVHC, where you will receive additional information about the test and answers to any questions you may have.


An IV will be started in your hand or arm and Cardiolite will be injected through the IV. After waiting approximately 45-60 minutes you will be taken out to the mobile unit where resting images of your heart will be taken. This imaging usually takes twenty to thirty minutes.

After these images are complete, you will return to the Physical Therapy Department. The exercise (or Stress) test will then begin. You will walk on a treadmill at a brisk pace for a period of time as your heart is monitored. If you are unable to exercise on a treadmill, you may receive Lexiscan (a medication that creates an effect on the heart similar to exercise). A physician is always present during this test.


Following the stress test, your heart rate will be monitored for six minutes during the recovery period. After waiting approximately 45-60 minutes, images will be taken in the mobile unit. After these images are done the test is complete. The IV will then be removed.


When will I get my results?

Your films and report will be read by a Radiologist, who will give your doctor their impression of the test. The nurse will call you to set up an appointment for you to go over the test results with your doctor.

Bone Density (DEXA Scan)
CT Scan
Digital Mammography & 3-D Mammography
Digital X-Ray
Cardiolite Stress Test
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