One of the first things you are likely to do after an accident is evaluate yourself (and any passengers) for car accident injuries. If you’re lucky, nothing but some cuts and scrapes will be apparent and after an assessment by the first responders, you’ll be able to move on to dealing with police reports, insurance companies, and mechanics. But what you may not realize is that a lot of common car accident injuries aren’t apparent for hours or days after the accident. This is why after an accident, it’s important to visit an Atlanta imaging center to fully assess your body for any injuries you may have sustained. The scans that you will need may vary based on a doctor’s evaluation, but there are some common ones you will likely see.
Most doctors will order x-rays as a first step in the diagnostic process to check for any hidden fractures. While badly broken bones can be obvious, small stress fractures may not be obvious until they worsen and it’s optimal to catch them early. An x-ray is relatively inexpensive as far as scans go and can provide a lot of information, ruling out broken bones, dislocated joints, moving bone fragments, and some other internal injuries.
A CT scan, sometimes known as a CAT scan, is a computed tomography. This is a type of x-ray that can render images of bones, internal organs, blood vessels, and soft tissue, offering a more detailed image that can be viewed in multiple planes, including 3D.
When undergoing a CT scan, the patient may be asked to ingest or be injected with a special dye that can help to highlight specific body parts or injuries during the scan.
While CT scans are typically used to identify infectious diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular issues, in car accidents they are looking for specific injuries. Internal bleeding, injuries to internal organs, or broken bones can all be identified by a CT scan.
Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, works by using the magnetic field and pulses of radio waves to produce images of the inside of the body. When undergoing an MRI, you are usually placed in an enclosed tube for a period of time and asked not to move for up to 20 minutes. Some facilities offer “open” MRIs for those that suffer from claustrophobia or anxiety and struggle with the feeling of being “trapped” within the tube for a long period of time.
MRIs can show things that will not be present on an x-ray or CT scan, like bulging and herniated discs or other back and neck injuries.
While they are more involved than other scans, MRIs are typically performed as an outpatient procedure that does not require sedation or medication. In some cases, patients will ingest a dye during this procedure similar to that of a CT scan.
Which Scans Do I Need?
After any car accident, you will most likely have an x-ray taken as an initial precaution. These convey a lot of information quickly and can help to prevent damage from worsening. If the car accident was severe, or you may have head trauma, a CT scan will likely be performed to diagnose not only broken bones, but also concussions or any internal trauma. However, if you were suffering from a bulging or herniated disc, or a tear to your cartilage or muscles, neither an x-ray nor a CT scan would show those things. An MRI can be used to show more precise injuries, like a torn rotator cuff.
An innovative type of imaging, a fluoroscopy exam is like a moving x-ray, offering a real-time view of the body as it is in motion. This technology can be used on almost any part of the body to diagnose problems with more precision and attention to mobility than other imaging may offer. Fluoroscopy is often used in conjunction with other imaging technology to present a complete picture of the injuries being treated.
At the AICA Orthopedics Atlanta imaging center, we make use of both classic and cutting edge technology to ensure you are getting the most accurate and advanced diagnosis possible. With that information, our doctors are able to not only diagnose effectively, but also treat patients with customized plans. The team at AICA Orthopedics combines these imaging technologies with the work of doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, and other specialists to create the most comprehensive care plan possible. Our goal is to not only identify the source of your pain but determine the best way to treat it.