All Medical Procedures

Computerized tomography (CT scan) — also called CT — combines a series of X-ray views taken from many different angles and computer processing to create cross-sectional images of the bones and soft tissues inside your body.

The resulting images can be compared to looking down at single slices of bread from a loaf. Your doctor will be able to look at each of these slices individually or perform additional visualization to view your body from different angles. In some cases, CT images can be combined to create 3-D images. CT scan images can provide much more information than do plain X-rays.

A CT scan has many uses, but is particularly well suited to quickly examine people who may have internal injuries from car accidents or other types of trauma. A CT scan can be used to visualize nearly all parts of the body.

The canalith repositioning procedure can help relieve benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), a condition in which you have brief, but intense, episodes of dizziness that occur when you move your head. Vertigo usually comes from a problem with the part of the inner ear responsible for balance (vestibular labyrinth). BPPV occurs when tiny particles called otoconia in one part of your inner ear break loose and fall into the canals of your inner ear.

The canalith repositioning procedure can move the otoconia to a part of your ear where they won't cause dizziness. Performed in your doctor's office and at home, the canalith repositioning procedure consists of several simple head maneuvers. The procedure is quite effective, relieving vertigo in 80 percent or more of individuals after one or two treatments. However, the problem may recur.

Carotid (kuh-ROT-id) ultrasound is a safe, painless procedure that uses sound waves to examine the structure and function of the carotid arteries in your neck.

Your two carotid arteries are located on each side of your neck. Carotid arteries deliver blood from your heart to your brain.

Carotid ultrasound is usually used to test for blocked or narrowed carotid arteries, which can indicate an increased risk of stroke. Results from a carotid ultrasound can help your doctor determine what kind of treatment you may need to lower your risk of stroke.

A discogram, or diskogram, is a test used to evaluate back pain. A discogram may help your doctor determine if an abnormal disk in your spine is causing your back pain.

Spinal disks look a little like jelly doughnuts, with a tough outer layer and a gel-like substance inside. Disks act as cushions between the bones in your spine.

During a discogram, dye is injected into the soft center of the disk. The injection itself sometimes reproduces your back pain. Several disks may be injected to try to pinpoint the cause of your back pain.

The dye also moves into any cracks in the disk's exterior, which can then be seen on an X-ray or CT scan. However, disks that show signs of wear and tear don't always cause symptoms, so the usefulness of a discogram is controversial.

An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that detects electrical activity in your brain using small, flat metal discs (electrodes) attached to your scalp. Your brain cells communicate via electrical impulses and are active all the time, even when you're asleep. This activity shows up as wavy lines on an EEG recording.

An EEG is one of the main diagnostic tests for epilepsy. An EEG may also play a role in diagnosing other brain disorders.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure in which electric currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure. ECT seems to cause changes in brain chemistry that can quickly reverse symptoms of certain mental illnesses. It often works when other treatments are unsuccessful.

Much of the stigma attached to ECT is based on early treatments in which high doses of electricity were administered without anesthesia, leading to memory loss, fractured bones and other serious side effects.

ECT is much safer today and is given to people while they're under general anesthesia. Although ECT still causes some side effects, it now uses electrical currents given in a controlled setting to achieve the most benefit with the fewest possible risks.

Electromyography (EMG) is a diagnostic procedure to assess the health of muscles and the nerve cells that control them (motor neurons).

Motor neurons transmit electrical signals that cause muscles to contract. An EMG translates these signals into graphs, sounds or numerical values that a specialist interprets.

An EMG uses tiny devices called electrodes to transmit or detect electrical signals.

During a needle EMG, a needle electrode inserted directly into a muscle records the electrical activity in that muscle.

A nerve conduction study, another part of an EMG, uses electrodes taped to the skin (surface electrodes) to measure the speed and strength of signals traveling between two or more points.

EMG results can reveal nerve dysfunction, muscle dysfunction or problems with nerve-to-muscle signal transmission.

Lumbar puncture (spinal tap) is performed in your lower back, in the lumbar region. During lumbar puncture, a needle is inserted between two lumbar bones (vertebrae) to remove a sample of cerebrospinal fluid — the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord to protect them from injury.

A lumbar puncture can help diagnose serious infections, such as meningitis; other disorders of the central nervous system, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome and multiple sclerosis; or cancers of the brain or spinal cord. Sometimes doctors use lumbar puncture to inject anesthetic medications or chemotherapy drugs into the cerebrospinal fluid.

Radiofrequency neurotomy is a procedure to reduce back and neck pain. Heat generated by radio waves is used to target specific nerves and temporarily interfere with their ability to transmit pain signals.

The radio waves are delivered to the targeted nerves via needles inserted through the skin above your spine. Imaging scans are used during radiofrequency neurotomy to help the doctor position the needles precisely.

Radiofrequency neurotomy works better in some people than in others. Tests may be needed to determine if the nerves commonly targeted by radiofrequency neurotomy are the same nerves responsible for your pain.

Sclerotherapy effectively treats varicose and spider veins. It's often considered the treatment of choice for small varicose veins. Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution directly into the vein. The sclerotherapy solution causes the vein to scar and collapse, forcing blood to reroute through healthier veins. The collapsed vein is reabsorbed into local tissue and eventually fades.

After sclerotherapy, treated veins tend to fade within a few weeks, although occasionally it may take up to a month to see the full results. In some instances, several sclerotherapy treatments may be needed.