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X-ray Procedures You May Not Know About: Part I


Laura Anderson, Andrea Milbury, Ashley Montague, Madison Plant, Natalie Wallace and Cheyenne Wilson, fourth year students at Horizon's The Moncton Hospital School of Radiologic Technology

When most people think of a medical radiation technologist, they think of the health care provider who performs an X-ray of their wrist, hip or chest in the Diagnostic Imaging department at their hospital.  

However, that's just the tip of the iceberg. We image patients referred by their primary health care provider's office, the emergency department and those who have been admitted.

We work in operating rooms, Intensive Care Units, specialty clinics and even morgues.

And - from pediatrics to geriatrics - we work with diverse patient populations and participate in many different diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

There are so many lesser-known procedures medical radiation technologists participate in we had to share this information with you over two blogs! Stay tuned for part two.

Imaging with the O-arm during Surgical Procedures


The O-arm imaging system is a rather new intraoperative 3D imaging system managed by the radiological technologist during orthopedic and neurology procedures. The O-arm technology reduces the invasiveness of the surgery and enhances the imaging capabilities.

So, how is the O-arm used?

The technologist circles the patient with the arm of the machine and closes it to form an "O".  They then accurately center the O-arm over the required anatomy and produce the initial reference images.

Once in place, the technologist activates the scan and the inside of the O-arm quickly rotates around the patient, taking multiple X-rays of the patient's anatomy.

The information acquired will show up on a monitor, producing clear and detailed images. When the scan is complete, the surgeon will use a navigation system, like a GPS, to allow the placement of surgical instruments, without having to use additional radiation.

O-arm technology improves the accuracy and precision of the images and leads to a more efficient surgical procedure.

The O-arm was recently used by a Horizon technologist during the Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation at Horizon's The Moncton Hospital.  

Imaging in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit


Medical radiation technologists perform X-rays on premature infants in neonatal intensive care units (NNICU).

Premature babies may face complications, and X-ray images allow physicians to see their tiny anatomies to diagnose and determine the best course of treatment.

Newborn babies, especially those in the NNICU, are fragile and must be kept warm. 

The medical radiation technologist brings mobile imaging equipment to the NNICU and take images through incubators. The imaging plate is wrapped in a soft pillow case, so the baby doesn't touch the cold surface.

Due to the immature immune system, there must be limited physical contact with the baby; this can make them difficult to position for an X-ray.

The technologist instructs the nurse how to position the infant for optimal imaging. Neither the technologist or the equipment comes in direct contact with the baby, keeping them safe.

The most common X-ray procedures requested by neonatologists are chest and abdomen. Due to the small size of the baby, these two anatomical areas can often be captured with one image, limiting the baby's exposure to ionizing radiation.

Colon Cancer Screening: Virtual Colonoscopy

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Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths for men and third for women in Canada. So, we know screening programs are extremely important.

A CT virtual colonoscopy is one screening tool used in early detection of colorectal cancer. It's a 2-D and 3-D medical imaging exam conducted by a medical radiation technologist to image the bowel, aiding in the diagnosis of polyps (growths), diverticulitis, colorectal cancer and more.

Like a traditional colonoscopy, preparation is required to visualize the inside of the bowel. The radiological technologist interviews the patient and explains the procedure before beginning the exam.

Once prepared, the medical radiation technologist inserts a small tube into the patient's rectum and manages air flow into the bowel with a CO2 insufflator. The air allows for enhanced visibility of the bowel loops, walls, and possible polyps.

The technologist takes an initial image to ensure enough air has inflated the bowel loops prior to beginning the CT scan. Two sets of CT images are taken: the patient on their back and the patient on their stomach.

After the images are complete, the technologist provides post-procedural care instructions to the patient.

The Moncton Hospital School of Radiologic Technology and Saint John School of Radiological Technology partner with the University of New Brunswick Saint John (UNBSJ) to deliver a 4-year Bachelor of Health Sciences in Radiography.Graduates of the program become medical radiation technologists.


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