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Imaging tests are used to show a picture of the inside of the body. Doctors schedule these types of exams when they need to make a diagnosis or better understand what’s going on. Most imaging tests are safe and noninvasive. Even so, it’s normal to be nervous about the test and have questions about what to expect.

If your doctor has ordered an imaging test, you probably have a few questions. We will answer them for you so that you can be best prepared for what’s to come!

Common Types of Imaging Tests

Below are some of the most common types of imaging procedures that are done on older adults.

  • CT scans
  • MRI scans
  • PET scans
  • Gallbladder ultrasound
  • Mammography
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Pelvis ultrasound
  • Bone density scan

What to Expect for an Imaging Test

Talk to your doctor about how to prepare for your test. Each one is different. With MRIs, you will have to remove your jewelry, hair pins or any other metal items. PET scans generally require you to have no food, drink or medicine for five hours prior. An ultrasound may require you to drink a lot of water.

Though each test is different, you can expect to follow a similar protocol. Here are some things to expect.

  • Arrive early. About 15-30 minutes early is ideal. This gives you time to fill out paperwork.
  • Bring an ID and insurance card. This information is needed to complete the paperwork.
  • Wear comfortable clothes. Before the test, you will change into a hospital gown. It’s helpful to wear comfy, loose clothing that you can change in and out of.
  • Leave valuables at home. Most imaging tests require you to remove jewelry and hair pins. Leave these items at home so they don’t get lost.
  • Be prepared for the length. Some tests only take a few minutes while others take hours. Your doctor will let you know how long to expect the test to last.

Most test results come within 3-5 days. Your doctor will review the results and let you know of the findings. Sometimes, additional tests are needed. Fortunately, with today’s technology, imaging tests are fast, painless and accurate.