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Radiology

Our radiology department provides a full range of scans, including MRI, X-Ray, Ultrasound and CT.

 

To book an appointment, you will need a letter of referral from your doctor. This can be from your GP or consultant.

 

For MRI, Ultrasound and CT, we offer appointments as quickly as possible, normally within 2 to 3 weeks. For X-Rays we offer a same day appointment service between 10.00am and 4.00pm. 

Currently, 80% of all scans are reported and the results posted to your doctor on the day you’re examined. We recommend allowing 3 working days for the results being available to your doctor.

 

To learn more about the various types of scans and how much they cost, click the relevant tabs below. You can also contact us as follows:

If you are sending in a referral, please use the PDF format. 

MRI: 051-337466

X-Ray: 051 337 420

Ultrasound: 051 337 420

CT: 051 337 444
Email: radiology@whitfieldclinic.ie



Request an Appointment

We will do our best to accommodate your preferred date. Please note however, that wait times for MRI scans can be up to 2 weeks.


 


MRI Scan

Whitfield Clinic offers timely access for MRI scan appointments. To book an MRI scan, you will need a letter of referral from your doctor. This can be your GP or consultant, from Whitfield Clinic or elsewhere. Once we review your letter or referral, we will contact you with our next available appointment. We try to keep waiting times to a minimum and offer late evening and weekend appointments, where possible.


How much does it cost?


Generally speaking, MRI scans are covered by most major insurers, including VHI, Laya, Aviva and Glo Health. This means that you will not have to pay when you attend your appointment. You will simply be asked to complete and sign a form, which we will send back to your insurer.

For those without health insurance, MRI scans cost from €200.

 

How to book an MRI Scan


Call our MRI department on 051 337 466
Fax your MRI referral letter or card to 051 337 419
Email it to radiology@whitfieldclinic.ie
Post it to Radiology Department, Whitfield Clinic, Cork Road, Waterford

 

What you need to know about having an MRI Scan


An MRI Scan is a pain free scan of a certain part of the body. It works by using magnetic resonance imaging. The scanner can be noisy, which is why we give you headphones. They also allow our radiographer to communicate with you while you’re having your scan.

 

You will need to complete a questionnaire before having an MRI scan. This is to ensure that we are aware of any medical device you may have had inserted during any previous treatments. These include:

 

  • Internal (implanted) defibrillators or pacemakers
  • Cochlear (ear) implants
  • Surgical clips such as those used on brain aneurysms
  • Artificial heart valves
  • Implanted electronic devices, such as cardiac pacemakers
  • Artificial limbs or metallic joints
  • Implanted nerve stimulators
  • Pins, screws, plates, stents or surgical staples
 
Having one or other of these medical devices may mean that you cannot have an MRI Scan, but don’t worry, there are other options. It is important to tell your radiographer if you have had any metal fragments lodged in your eyes or body. In some cases, you may need an X-ray before an MRI scan to make sure you are safe to enter the scanner.

 

How long does it take to get my results? 


Your results will be sent to whoever referred you, usually within three working days. You should always check back with that doctor, who will give your results, and discuss the next steps.

Ultrasound

What is ultrasound?


Ultrasound is a high-frequency sound that you cannot hear, but can be emitted and detected by special machines.

 

How does ultrasound work?

 

Ultrasound travels freely through fluid and soft tissues. However, ultrasound is reflected back (as echoes) when it hits a more solid (dense) surface. For example, the ultrasound will travel freely through blood in a heart chamber. But, when it hits a solid valve, a lot of the ultrasound echoes back. Another example is when ultrasound travels though bile in a gallbladder, it will echo back strongly if it hits a solid gallstone.

 

So, as ultrasound hits different structures of different density in the body, it sends back echoes of varying strength.

 

What does an ultrasound scan involve?

 

You lie on a couch and an operator places a probe on your skin over the part of your body to be examined. The probe is a bit like a very thick blunt pen. Lubricating jelly is put on your skin so that the probe makes good contact with your body. The probe is connected by a wire to the ultrasound machine, which is linked to a monitor. Pulses of ultrasound are sent from the probe through the skin into your body. The ultrasound waves then echo ('bounce back') from the various structures in the body.

 

The echoes are detected by the probe and are sent down the wire to the ultrasound machine. They are displayed as a picture on the monitor. The picture is constantly updated so the scan can show movement as well as structure, e.g. the valves of a heart opening and closing during a scan of the heart. The operator moves the probe around the surface of the skin to get views from different angles.

 

The scan is painless and takes about 15-45 minutes, depending on which parts of the body are being examined. A record of the results of the test can be made as still pictures or video recording.

 

What is an ultrasound test used for?

 

It is used in many situations. The way the ultrasound bounces back from different tissues can help to determine the size, shape and consistency of organs, structures and abnormalities. So, it can:

  • Detect abnormalities of heart structures such as the heart valves (an ultrasound scan of the heart is called an echocardiogram)
  • Help to diagnose problems of the liver, gallbladder (such as gallstones), pancreas, thyroid gland, lymph nodes, ovaries, testes, kidneys, bladder and breast. For example, it can help to determine if an abnormal lump in one of these organs is a solid tumor or a fluid-filled cyst
  • Detect abnormal widening of blood vessels (aneurysms)
 

What should I do to prepare for these tests?

 

Usually there is only dietary preparation required, mainly if we are scanning the abdomen and pelvis. Continue to take your usual medication. You should eat and drink normally before and after the test unless otherwise instructed. For example:

 

  • If certain parts of the tummy (abdomen) are being examined, you may be asked to eat a low-fibre diet for a day or so before the test (to minimise 'gas' in your gut)
  • You may be asked not to eat for several hours before a scan of the abdomen
  • To scan the bladder or pelvis, you may be asked to drink some fluid before the test so that you have a full bladder

 

You will be told what you need to do before any particular scan.

 

Are there any side-effects or complications from ultrasound?

 

These scans are painless and safe. They have not been found to cause any problems or complications

 

X-Ray

What are X-rays?


X-rays are a type of high-energy radiation. An X-ray machine can produce short bursts of X-rays. The rays pass easily through fluids and soft tissues of the body. However, dense tissue such as bone will block some of the X-rays. The denser the tissue, the less X-rays pass through. Air and water are less dense because the particles which make them are not held closely together.

 

How is an X-ray test done?

 

The X-ray machine fires a short burst of X-rays through part of your body. The X-rays hits a detector, similar to the use of a digital camera, and an image is seen on the monitor. So, dense parts of the body which block many of the X-rays show up as white (such as bones), hollow or air-filled parts of the body show up as black (such as parts of the lung). Soft tissues (such as muscle and body organs) show up as various shades of grey, depending on how dense they are.

 

An ordinary X-ray test is painless. You cannot see or feel X-rays. You should stay still when the X-ray beam is 'fired', as otherwise the picture may be blurred.

 

What can ordinary X-rays show?

 

  • Bones, bone fractures, and other abnormalities of bone
  • Joint spaces and some abnormalities of joints, such as osteoarthritis
  • The size and shape of the heart, so certain heart conditions can be detected
  • Changes in the density of some softer tissues, e.g. a lung tumor is denser than an air-filled lung and will show as a 'shadow' on a chest X-ray
  • Collections of fluid, e.g. in the lung or gut - may show as grey 'shadows' against the normal black of the air-filled chest, or hollow gut

 

An ordinary X-ray is a quick, easy and a relatively cheap test. It may be all that is needed to diagnose or assess various problems. However, an ordinary X-ray has limited use. More sophisticated 'contrast' X-rays, CT scans, or other imaging techniques may be needed for accurate or further assessment of certain body parts, particularly of soft tissues and organs such as the brain or liver.

 

Are there any risks from X-rays?


There is very little risk with having one X-ray test. However, with repeated tests there is a risk that the X-rays may damage some cells in the body, possibly leading to cancer in the future. The dose of X-ray radiation is always kept to the minimum needed to get a good picture of the particular body part being checked.

 

Pregnant women, if possible, should not have an X-ray test, as there is a small risk that X-rays may cause an abnormality to the unborn child. This is why women are asked before having an X-ray if they are, or might be, pregnant.

CT Scan

What is a CT Scan?


A CT scan, also known as a CAT scan, is a specialised X-ray test. It can give very clear pictures of the inside of your body. In particular, it can give good pictures of soft tissues of the body which do not show on ordinary X-ray pictures.


How is a CT scan done?

 

CT stands for computerised tomography and CAT for computed axial tomography. They are the same thing. The CT scanner looks like a giant thick ring. Within the wall of the scanner there is an X-ray source. Opposite the X-ray source, on the other side of the ring, are X-ray detectors. You lie on a couch which slides into the centre of the ring until the part of the body to be scanned is within the ring. The X-ray machine within the ring rotates around your body. As it rotates around, the X-ray machine emits thin beams of X-rays through your body, which are detected by the X-ray detectors.

 

The detectors detect the strength of the X-ray beam that has passed through your body. The denser the tissue, the less X-rays pass through. The X-ray detectors feed this information into a computer. Different types of tissue with different densities show up as a picture on the computer monitor, in different colours or shades of grey. So, in effect, a picture is created by the computer of a slice (cross-section) of a thin section of your body.

 

As the couch moves slowly through the ring, the X-ray beam passes through the next section of your body. So, several cross-sectional pictures (slices) of the part of your body being investigated are made by the computer.

 

What is a CT scan used for?

 

A CT scan can be carried out on any section of the head or body. It can give clear pictures of bones. It also gives clear pictures of soft tissues which an ordinary X-ray test cannot show, such as muscles, organs, large blood vessels, the brain and nerves. It can be used:

 

  • To detect abnormalities in the body, such as tumors, abscesses, abnormal blood vessels etc. when they are suspected by symptoms or other tests
  • To give a surgeon a clear picture of an area of your body before certain types of surgery
  • To pinpoint the exact site of tumors prior to radiotherapy
  • To help doctors find the right place to take biopsies (tissue samples)
 

What preparation do I need to do before a CT scan?

 

Very little preparation is usually required. It depends on which part of your body is to be scanned. You will be given instructions by the CT department appropriate for the scan to be done. As a general rule, you will need to remove any metal objects from your body, such as jewelry, hair clips, etc. It is best not to wear clothes with metal zips, studs, etc. You may be asked not to eat or drink for a few hours before your scan, depending on the part of your body to be scanned. If you need an injection of contrast, as described below, it may be necessary to stop certain medicines after the procedure. This may apply to people taking metformin, a medicine used to treat diabetes.

 

In some situations, depending on what part of the body is being scanned, one of the following may be needed:

  • For abdominal and pelvic scans, you may be asked to have a special drink before the scan. This takes about an hour before the scan is performed. This helps to show up the stomach and bowel more clearly.
  • Usually an x-ray dye (contrast medium) is injected into the bloodstream via a vein in your arm. The dye may give you a flushing feeling and an odd taste in your mouth, which soon goes.
 

The CT scan itself is painless. You cannot see or feel X-rays. You will be asked to stay as still as possible, otherwise the scan pictures may be blurred. The scan can take between 5-10 minutes, depending on which part (or parts) of the body is being scanned.

 

Are there any possible complications?

 

Rarely, some people have an allergic reaction to the contrast dye which is sometimes used. This can be treated immediately. Very rarely the dye may cause some kidney damage, most commonly in people already known to have kidney problems. If there is any doubt a blood test can be done to check that the kidneys are working well and that your kidneys will not have any problems with the use of the x-ray dye.


Pregnant women

 

If possible, pregnant women should not have a CT scan, as there is a small risk that X-rays may cause an abnormality to the unborn child. If you are of child bearing age, you will be asked if there is any possibility of you being pregnant. If it is possible, the test will most likely be deferred.

 

Risks of X-ray radiation used in CT scans


CT scans use X-rays, which are a type of radiation. Exposure to large doses of radiation is linked to developing cancer or leukemia - often many years later.

 

The dose of X-ray radiation needed for a CT scan is much more than for a single X-ray picture, but is still generally quite a low dose. The risk of harm from the dose of radiation used in CT scanning is thought to be very small, but it is not totally without risk. As a general rule, the higher the dose, the greater the risk. So, for example, the larger the part of the body scanned, the greater the radiation dose. And, repeat CT scans over time cause an overall increase of dose. Because of this, all CT requests are reviewed by the consultant radiologist to ensure that the test is appropriate for the questions being asked.


Consultants in Radiology

Dr Anthony Ryan
Dr Conor O'Riordan
Dr Kieran Carroll
Dr Margot Brannigan
Dr Phyllis O'Sullivan