Preparing for Your Imaging Exam

Resources to help you prepare for your appointment

Important information
for your appointment

We believe that informed and empowered patients have the best healthcare experience. This page is designed to provide you with the necessary resources and support to navigate your imaging journey with confidence. Please click on the links below to be directed further down this page for specific exam preparation instructions.

People In Waiting Room

To be best prepared for your appointment, please review this checklist and bring the items on the list with you on the day of your exam or procedure:

Patient registration forms

To speed the check-in process, we encourage all patients to complete their registration forms in advance and bring them to their appointment. These forms are editable PDFs. Please download the files specific to your exam, complete the information, provide a signature, and give the printed copies to the front desk at the time of your appointment. All patients need to fill out the Patient Registration form in addition to their exam form. New patients should also sign and bring the Notice of Privacy Practices, and PHI release form with them.

Patient exam forms

Exam preparation instructions

What to Expect

Mammograms are performed using a special digital X-ray machine. You’ll stand for this exam wearing a patient gown.  The mammographer will compress your breast between two paddles to help flatten the breast tissue.  This compression allows for better visibility of the breast tissue.  It may feel awkward; however, each view lasts only a few seconds.

We know that the fear of pain may cause some women to delay scheduling their annual exams.  That’s why Alexandria Radiology was the first to introduce SmartCurve™ technology to the DC metro area. The special curved design of our compression paddle follows the natural contours of a woman’s breast, helping to reduce pinching and furthering our commitment to providing the best in mammography comfort and care.

How to Prepare

On the day of your exam, do not use deodorants, lotions, powders, creams, or perfumes.  These substances can affect the mammography image by appearing as artifacts on the clinical view, potentially requiring a call-back examination.

Consider wearing a two-piece outfit which would only require changing your top into a mammography gown.

If this is your first visit to our practice, please bring any prior mammography reports and films related to your exam.

What to Expect

Most ultrasound exams are fast, painless, and gentle on the patient.  They typically take about 30 minutes and require a special gel with a device called a transducer.  The ultrasound technologist glides the device over the surface of the body.  For certain exams, it may be inserted into a body cavity with minimal discomfort.

A transducer produces sound waves that bounce off body tissues to make echoes. The transducer then receives the echoes and sends them to a computer, where a picture called a sonogram is created.

After an ultrasound exam, you should be able to resume your normal activities immediately.

How to Prepare

For abdominal, aortic, AAA (abdominal aortic), renal artery ultrasounds, and liver elastography:  Do not eat, drink, chew gum, or smoke for 8 hours prior to your exam.

For pelvic, renal and bladder ultrasounds:  One hour before your exam, please empty your bladder and finish drinking 24 oz. of clear fluid such as water, apple juice or tea. Do not empty your bladder until the exam is complete.

What to Expect

You will be asked to lie on a special DEXA exam table. The technologist will position you using foam blocks to keep you comfortable while holding the desired position correctly.  The arm of the DEXA machine will glide over your body capturing bone density measurement data used to create images and graphs of bone, fat, and muscle.  These results are reviewed and interpreted by the radiologist, and the report is sent to your healthcare provider for follow-up as needed.

How to Prepare

  • Do not take calcium supplements 24 hours prior to your exam.
  • For 7 days prior to your DEXA, avoid any barium or contrast imaging studies associated with CT, MRI, and Fluoroscopy to prevent any residual barium from interfering with the exam.
  • If you may be pregnant, please inform us before your exam begins.
  • Consider wearing comfortable clothing that has no metal zippers or buttons in the abdominal or pelvic areas. You may also be asked to remove jewelry, eyeglasses, and any metal objects or clothing that might interfere with the images.

What to Expect

During the hysterosalpingography procedure, you will be positioned similarly to a pelvic exam at your gynecologist’s office. The radiologist will insert a small catheter into the cervical opening, gently guiding it into the uterus. X-ray dye or contrast (a liquid containing iodine that is visible to x-rays) will be injected through the catheter to fill the uterus and fallopian tubes as  the radiologist and technologist capture images. The entire hysterosalpingography procedure usually only takes a few minutes to complete.

Some patients may experience mild cramping and pressure during and immediately following the procedure, which is usually comparable to menstrual cramping. This discomfort typically subsides within a few hours.

How to Prepare

This exam should not be performed if you think you may be or are pregnant or if you currently have a pelvic infection.

Most physicians recommend taking ibuprofen 45 minutes prior to the procedure to assist with possible discomfort.

Let us know before the exam if you have any allergies or adverse reactions to medications or iodinated contrast material.

What to Expect

Image guided breast biopsies are quick, non-surgical, minimally-invasive procedures. Local anesthetic is used to minimize any  discomfort. You will lie on your back or side. The radiologist will insert a biopsy needle through a very small incision and collect tissue samples. No stitches are needed. Tissue samples will be sent to a pathologist for analysis.

How to Prepare

  • Avoid aspirin, aspirin-containing products, similar blood thinning products and anti-inflammatory medicines (such as Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin or Aleve) for 5 days prior to the biopsy procedure unless otherwise instructed at the time of scheduling.
  • If you are taking a blood thinner, such as Coumadin, check with your referring physician before your biopsy, as you may need to briefly discontinue use of this drug;
  • If you have any questions concerning whether you should continue or discontinue taking a specific medicine prior to your biopsy procedure, please contact our office at least five days before the date of your scheduled biopsy;
  • On the day of your biopsy, wear a comfortable two-piece outfit, including a comfortable supportive bra;
  • Do not use powder, lotion, or deodorant;
  • Have a light meal only before the procedure.

Modern image-guided biopsies require very little recovery time. Most women may resume normal activity right away; however, avoid strenuous activity or certain blood-thinning medications (like aspirin) for 48 hours. After your breast biopsy,  follow these recommendations to minimize discomfort and promote healing at the biopsy site:

  • Place an ice pack inside your wrapping on top of the dressing until bedtime on the day of the procedure. Refill with fresh ice as often as needed. Sleep in your bra for at least two nights.
  • The dressing may be removed the day after your biopsy. Do not shower or bathe until the dressing is removed. Do not go swimming or participate in any strenuous exercises (including tennis, aerobics, weight lifting, fast walking, and jogging) for two days following the biopsy.
  • Do not remove the adhesive strips. They should be allowed to fall off naturally, usually in approximately 5 to 7 days. You may bathe or shower with the strips in place. Once they fall off, they do not need to be replaced.
  • Take Tylenol for any discomfort if needed. Do not take aspirin, as this may cause additional bleeding.

You may experience mild discomfort and/or have a small amount of bruising where the needle entered the skin. You may also feel a lump at the biopsy site. This should go away in approximately 8 to 12 weeks.

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