Frequently Asked Questions

Will I experience any pain or discomfort during an imaging test?
Imaging tests are usually quick and painless. Some women experience mild discomfort from compression of breast tissue during a mammogram, and it can help to take an over-the-counter pain reliever about an hour before the procedure. If you’re having an MRI, PET, or CT scan and you have a fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), you can request a medication from you doctor to help you feel sleepy and less anxious. Our Cinemavision system provides movies or music during your imaging exam, and patients can also bring along their favorite movie or CD. A technologist monitors you throughout your imaging test. If the technologist is in another room during your procedure, they can see you and hear you if you need to speak with them. If you have any concerns or special needs, please do not hesitate to discuss them with us before your exam.

How long does an imaging test take?
Depending on what type of procedure you’re having, the length of imaging tests varies. Some imaging tests are quick with high-quality images captured in seconds, but more specialized imaging can take longer. Ask questions when your imaging test is being scheduled or call your physician’s office, so you will know what to expect.

Should I be concerned about radiation exposure?
The amount of radiation that patients are exposed to during procedures is very small and does not have any lasting effects on the body. The fast, modern imaging machines that WVU Medicine uses are equipped to perform high-quality imaging with the lowest doses of radiation in the industry. We are committed to patient safety and are nationally recognized for excellent care by the American College of Radiology.

What are contrast materials and how do they work?
Depending on the part of the body that is being tested, a special dye called contrast material may be necessary to improve pictures of the inside of the body and help technologists distinguish normal and abnormal conditions. Contrast materials are safe drugs that do not permanently change the color of internal organs. They temporarily alter the way imaging tools interact with the body. After your imaging test, the contrast material is absorbed by the body or passed through urine and bowel movements.

Are there any side effects to imaging tests?
Most imaging tests are quick, painless, and have no side effects. Although rare, people can be allergic to contrast materials used in some imaging tests. Most reactions are mild and include itchiness, rash, or hives. Mild allergies to contrast material can be pretreated with medications. In rare instances, a reaction to contrast materials can be serious and life threatening. Notify your physician and technologist about any prior reactions to dye, so that precautions can be considered or an alternative test can be ordered. Discuss any concerns about possible side effects from imaging or contract materials with your physician before your exam.

What happens after my imaging test?
Your imaging test is interpreted by a highly-trained radiologist, and the results are reported to your referring physician electronically. Your doctor will contact you with the results and let you know if any additional follow-up care is needed. If you have questions about your imaging test, please feel free to contact us. WVU Medicine patients can contact their physician’s office and schedule appointments through our secure, online patient portal, MyWVUChart.