All Medical Procedures

Although an abdominal ultrasound can be done to check for a number of conditions, it can be used to screen for an abdominal aortic aneurysm. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a weakened, bulging spot in your abdominal aorta, the artery that runs through the middle of your abdomen and supplies blood to the lower half of your body.

An abdominal ultrasound can also be used to check for other diseases that affect your kidneys, liver, gallbladder and pancreas.

An abdominal ultrasound to screen for an abdominal aortic aneurysm is recommended for men ages 65 to 75 who are current or former cigarette smokers. Having an abdominal ultrasound to screen for an aortic aneurysm isn't specifically recommended for men who have never smoked, nor women, unless your doctor suspects you may have an aneurysm.

During active surveillance for prostate cancer, your doctor closely monitors your prostate cancer for any changes. Active surveillance for prostate cancer is sometimes called watchful waiting.

No cancer treatment is provided during active surveillance for prostate cancer. This means medications, radiation and surgery aren't used. Periodic tests are done to check for signs the cancer is growing.

You might consider active surveillance for prostate cancer if your cancer is small, expected to grow very slowly, confined to one area of your prostate, and isn't causing signs or symptoms.

If you have other health problems that limit your life expectancy, active surveillance for prostate cancer may also be a reasonable approach.

Amniocentesis is a procedure in which amniotic fluid is removed from the uterus for testing or treatment. Amniotic fluid is the fluid that surrounds and protects a baby during pregnancy. This fluid contains fetal cells and various chemicals produced by the baby.

Amniocentesis can be done for various reasons:

  • With genetic amniocentesis, a sample of amniotic fluid is tested for certain conditions — such as Down syndrome and spina bifida.
  • With maturity amniocentesis, a sample of amniotic fluid is tested to determine whether the baby's lungs are mature enough for birth.
  • Occasionally, amniocentesis is used to evaluate a baby for infection or other illness.
  • Rarely, amniocentesis is used to decrease the volume of amniotic fluid.

Although amniocentesis can provide valuable information about your baby's health, the decision to pursue invasive diagnostic testing is serious. It's important to understand the risks of amniocentesis — and be prepared for the results.

A barium enema is an X-ray exam that can detect changes or abnormalities in the large intestine (colon). The procedure is also called a colon X-ray.

An enema is the injection of a liquid into your rectum through a small tube. In this case, the liquid contains a metallic substance (barium) that coats the lining of the colon. Normally, an X-ray produces a poor image of soft tissues, but the barium coating results in a relatively clear silhouette of the colon.

During a barium enema exam, air may be pumped into the colon. The air expands the colon and improves the quality of images. This is called an air-contrast (double-contrast) barium enema.

Before a barium enema, your doctor will instruct you to completely empty your colon.

A bone density test determines if you have osteoporosis — a disease that causes bones to become more fragile and more likely to break.

In the past, osteoporosis could be detected only after you broke a bone. By that time, however, your bones could be quite weak. A bone density test enhances the accuracy of calculating your risk of breaking bones.

A bone density test uses X-rays to measure how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are packed into a segment of bone. The bones that are most commonly tested are in the spine, hip and forearm.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast — or breast MRI — is a test used to detect breast cancer and other abnormalities in the breast.

A breast MRI captures multiple images of your breast. Breast MRI images are combined, using a computer, to generate detailed pictures.

Breast MRI usually is performed after you have a biopsy that's positive for cancer, and your doctor needs more information about the extent of the disease. In certain situations, such as for women with high risk of breast cancer, breast MRI may be used with mammograms as a screening tool for detecting breast cancer.

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.

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.

Chest X-rays produce images of your heart, lungs, blood vessels, airways, and the bones of your chest and spine. Chest X-rays can also reveal fluid in or around your lungs or air surrounding a lung.

If you go to your doctor or the emergency room with chest pain, a chest injury or shortness of breath, you will typically get a chest X-ray. The image helps your doctor determine whether you have heart problems, a collapsed lung, pneumonia, broken ribs, emphysema, cancer or any of several other conditions.

The chest X-ray is a common way to diagnose disease. But it can also be used to tell whether a certain treatment is working. Some people have a series of chest X-rays done over time, to track whether a health problem is getting better or worse.

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is a prenatal test in which a sample of chorionic villi is removed from the placenta for testing.

During pregnancy, the placenta provides oxygen and nutrients to the growing baby and removes waste products from the baby's blood. The chorionic villi are wispy projections that make up most of the placenta and share the baby's genetic makeup.

Chorionic villus sampling can reveal whether a baby has a chromosomal condition, such as Down syndrome. Chorionic villus sampling can also be used to test for other genetic conditions, such as cystic fibrosis.

Although chorionic villus sampling can provide valuable information about your baby's health, the decision to pursue invasive diagnostic testing is serious. It's important to understand the risks of chorionic villus sampling — and be prepared for the results.