Before confirming a diagnosis it is important for your doctor to rule out other conditions that may produce similar symptoms, using a combination of techniques, which may include:
- X-ray - shows the structure of the spinal cord.
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) - provides a three-dimensional view of the body. MRI uses a strong magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed internal pictures of your body. No X-Rays are involved. In basic terms, the magnet makes the hydrogen protons in your body all behave in the same way. The protons are excited by a radio frequency pulse, this pulse is then switched off and the protons emit extra energy. An antenna receives these signals and a computer produces an image.
- CT Scan (Computerized Axial Tomography or CAT Scan) – A CT scanner is a sophisticated machine that uses X-Rays to acquire images of the body. Instead of sending out a single x-ray beam through your body as with ordinary X-Ray examinations, a fan-shaped beam of X-Rays passes through a slice of your body onto a bank of detectors where their strength is measured. Beams that have passed through less dense tissue such as the lungs will be stronger, whereas beams that have passed through denser tissue such as bone will be weaker. A powerful computer will use this information to work out the relative density of the tissues and the results are represented as a cross-sectional, two-dimensional picture shown on a monitor. The new VCT light speed 64-slice CT scanner we have
- Ultrasound – an Ultrasound scanner does not use X-Rays (ionising radiation).The ultrasound probe emits high frequency sound waves that are passed through your body. As they are reflected back by the structures inside, the echoes are used to form an image. Doppler ultrasound is an additional technique that can be used to examine blood vessels to provide both structural and functional information.Ultrasound is a relatively patient friendly way of imaging and no harmful effects have been found.
- DSA (Digital Subtracted Angiography) - a type of X-Ray machine used for taking images of blood vessels and also of soft tissue.The machine first takes an image which includes the bones and then when a contrast agent is injected, the machine digitally removes the bones from the images, so that the blood vessels or organ can be seen very clearly.