Fulton County Medical Center Diagnostic Services
Fulton County Medical Center (FCMC) has a long history of providing diagnostic testing and other medical and health services to the local community. In addition to operating an 88-bed acute care hospital and nursing care facility, our campus is within driving distance of metropolitan areas such as Harrisburg, PA; Baltimore, MD; and Washington, D.C. Diagnostic testing represents a major component of our service to Fulton County.
Purpose of Diagnostic Tests
There are five main reasons physicians conduct diagnostic tests.1
1.Obtain evidence of disease to diagnose patients who are symptomatic.
2.Screen for the presence of disease in people with no symptoms.
3.Collect more information on a person who is known to have a certain disease.
4.Monitor the progress, side effects, and/or benefits of an ongoing therapy.
5.Confirm that a disease of concern is not present.
Testing at the Fulton County health center is often done to confirm a disease’s presence or absence. Other times it is for monitoring a patient’s ongoing health. There is often more than one diagnostic and screening option. People must often make choices when multiple options may be available (e.g., imaging tests like x-rays or ultrasound, or MRI or CT scans). Healthcare professionals often aid in these decisions by providing access to online tools, videos, and pamphlets.
Medical imaging is a large segment of the diagnostic testing field. Fulton County Hospital is equipped to offer a full range of such services, including x-rays, ultrasound, MRI and CT scanning, bone densitometry, mammography, and nuclear medicine testing. Patients often wonder what a test prescribed to them is, why they need it, and what the benefits may be.
Here is a look at the specifics, purposes, and benefits of the diagnostic services in hospitalfacilities such as Fulton County.
List of Diagnostic Services Available from FCMC
X-Ray: A common test in which images of biological structures are produced from electromagnetic ionizing radiation that penetrates the body. Traditional test methods that used photographic film took more time, but FCMC uses digital radiography so the process is of a shorter duration. There is a lower radiation dose than with previous methods and no film is used, reducing testing costs. The technology has come a long way since the accidental discovery of x-rays by German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen in 1895.2
Nowadays, trained x-ray technologists run the test, either as part of routine exams, hospital testing, or emergency services. The patient is positioned on a table or imaged while they are standing; they might be asked to stay still or hold their breath as well, the reason being movement can result in a blurry image. In some cases, a contrast material is used to enhance the pictures produced.
How X-Rays Work
The highly energetic rays pass through soft tissue until stopped by denser material. The denser the tissue, such as bone, the more rays that are absorbed; those that pass through the body are used to produce the image. As a result, bones show up as white, but radiologists can spot other dense objects, such as tumors or metal fragments. Interstitial spaces in the body appear black, but some soft tissues absorb a little bit of energy and appear as different shades of gray.
Therefore, an x-ray can be used to diagnose the presence and extent of broken bones, soft tissue damage, certain types of cancers, and other pathologies.
Ultrasound: Ultrasound is used on various parts of the body, from the abdomen to an examination of vascular structures. It is unique in that sound waves are used to develop images. They are emitted from a transducer, but the sounds are at a frequency the human ear cannot detect. The sound waves, recorded by the equipment as echoes, are produced in real time. On-screen images represent the size, shape, and consistency of organs and tissues as registered by these echoes.3
Imaging via ultrasound is used to diagnose conditions that affect various organs. Although the sound waves don’t travel effectively through dense bone or spaces that contain air or gas, they are helpful for imaging the heart and blood vessels, kidneys, bladder, liver, gallbladder, spleen, uterus, pancreas, and thyroid. Ultrasound imaging is therefore helpful for:
·Diagnosing and treating injuries involving soft tissues.
·Doctors conducting delicate surgeries or procedures such as needle biopsies.
·Imaging the heart (when attached to a transesophageal echocardiogram probe).
·Imaging the flow of blood through arteries and veins (Doppler).
·Creating 3D images when combined with sophisticated computer technology.
This kind of imaging is generally painless, doesn’t expose a person to radiation, and can image tissues that x-rays don’t pick up well. It can, therefore, be an accurate and dependable way to detect and diagnose a problem. Testing generally takes anywhere from 30 minutes to up to an hour.
MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Performed with the patient inside a magnetized machine, this test creates digital images of cross sections of organs and biological structures. This gives Fulton County Medical Centertechnicians and doctors a different perspective than other diagnostic services do. The images can be viewed on any computer, even remotely, so technicians at a clinic or surgeons in an operating room can see them. Generally, a radiologist interprets the images and then submits a report to the physician who ordered the test.
There are different ways an MRI can be taken. A contrast material is sometimes injected to obtain clearer images, or the test can be performed with an open machine that doesn’t enclose the body, which is often more comfortable for the patient. An MRI can be done to:
·Detect general bleeding, blood vessel damage, infections, or abnormalities such as tumors.
·Find bleeding in the brain, aneurysms, nerve damage, or a stroke in the head, or problems with the optic or auditory nerves.
·Examine the chest to view heart valves and other structures, coronary blood vessels, and complement other forms of breast or lung cancer screening.
·Detect blockages, torn linings, and blood flow through vessels.
·Look for evidence of bleeding, infection, or blockages in abdominal structures.
·Diagnose bone and joint problems such as arthritis, bone marrow problems, cartilage damage, or torn ligaments and tendons.
·Verify spinal conditions, such as bulging discs, spinal stenosis, and tumors.
Sometimes, an MRI is done following other tests, such as x-rays, to compare and verify results. This helps doctors more accurately diagnose conditions and diseases, evaluate injuries, and determine treatment options.
CT or Computed Tomography:Fulton County Medical Center provides this diagnostic imaging test that also generates cross-sectional images of structures inside the body. The testing procedure is generally fast; it is also noninvasive and painless. Images generated by CT or CAT scans can be viewed in multiple planes, as x-rays are directed in a circular motion to create images from various angles and perspectives. Images can even be produced in three dimensions. Computed tomography is helpful for everything from analyzing blood vessels pre- and post-surgery to diagnosing, staging, and treating diseases such as cancer.
Bone Densitometry: A Dexa, or bone density scan is used to diagnose osteoporosis in its early stages. Non-invasive and low in radiation, this painless diagnostic test estimates bone density and the potential to break a bone in, for example, the hip or spine. It is a very helpful test for detecting bone abnormalities before a break occurs.
Able to help measure changes in density over time, and the effectiveness of osteoporosis medicine, the test is also often recommended for men over 50 years old and postmenopausal women who have recently broken a bone.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends the following people take a bone density test:4
·Women aged 65 and older.
·Postmenopausal women with risk factors and under age 65.
·Men aged 70 and older.
·Anyone over 50 who breaks a bone.
·Men aged 50 to 69 who have risk factors.
Mammography: The Fulton County health centeroffers this low-dose x-ray breast imaging for early detection of breast cancer. Mammograms are recommended by healthcare professionals because the disease is most treatable in its early stages. Digital mammography replaces traditional x-ray components with electronics similar to those in digital cameras; images are transferred to and viewed on a computer.
In fact, computers can be programmed to search these digitized images for abnormal masses, densities, or calcification. The computer-aided detection system alerts the radiologist to conduct a closer assessment. A digital format, combined with three-dimensional imaging, is called breast tomosynthesis. When images are taken from different angles, they are combined so that technologists can pan through 3-D reconstructions to get a more detailed look inside the breast.5
Nuclear Medicine: Radioactive substances, rather than being directed at the body, are injected into the bloodstream, swallowed, or inhaled, depending on the test. These materials emit gamma rays that are detected by a specialized camera and computer. Able to identify diseases at very early stages, this procedure is used to identify abnormalities of the heart, gastrointestinal tract, nervous system, and endocrine system, among others. It’s also used in the diagnosis of various cancers.
Aside from its diagnostic benefits, nuclear testing can help evaluate treatment options, the outcome of surgeries, and to detect infections. It can also measure effects of treatments such as chemotherapy on organs such as the heart. Nuclear medicine therapies may be used in treating medical conditions rather than for imaging purposes. Radioactive iodine can treat thyroid cancer and some types of hyperthyroidism, while radioactive antibodies are used for treating some kinds of lymphoma. Other radioactive substances are used in treating blood disorders.6
Why Choose FCMC for Diagnostic Services
For most people, finding a "hospital near me” is their goal, reducing travel time and the stress of getting to, for example, Fulton County Hospital. At FCMC, a range of testing services are available under one roof in McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania. The medical center was organized in 1947, so there is a long history of providing diagnostic and emergency services. Testing is conducted in an acute care hospital. Qualified technicians are on hand to guide you through the procedure, provide an accurate report, and recommend the best treatment choices.
Fulton County Medical Center offers a full range of cardiology, pulmonary, laboratory, and emergency services. Surgical, rehabilitative and other specialized health care services are available as well. We can serve many types of medical needs, and we have the equipment to provide a complete list of diagnostic servicesand therapeutic choices. Contact us at 717-485-3155 to get in touch with the top medical care professionals in Fulton County.