Forres GP Practices

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X-Rays & Scans

Sometimes your GP might want to have an image of what is happening inside your body. This means that we will need to arrange an X-Ray or a scan. Some straightforward X-ray investigations are performed in Forres Health and Care Centre while others are performed in Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin. These procedures are explained below:

X-Ray

An X-ray is a widely used diagnostic test to examine the inside of the body. X-rays are a very effective way of detecting problems with bones, such as fractures. They can also often identify problems with your internal organs such as your lungs.

If you have an X-ray, you will be asked to lie on a table or stand against a surface so that the part of your body being X-rayed is between the X-ray tube and the photographic plate.

An X-ray is usually carried out by a radiographer, a healthcare professional who specialises in using imaging technology, such as X-rays and ultrasound scanners.

You can find out more about x-ray tests, how they are performed, their function and the risks by visiting the NHS website.

Ultrasound Scan

An ultrasound scan is a procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of part of the inside of the body

Some common reasons to request an ultrasound are to:

  • examine internal organs such as the liver, kidneys, spleen, bladder, ovaries, womb
  • detect heart problems (an echocardiogram)
  • monitor the growth and development of a pregnancy

Most ultrasound scans don’t take long to perform, typically between 15 and 30 minutes and will normally be performed by a sonographer. A sonographer is a healthcare professional trained in the use of ultrasound, who will provide a descriptive report for the doctor to make a diagnosis. 

If you have an external ultrasound scan, a small handheld device called a transducer is placed onto your skin, and moved over the part of the body being examined.  A lubricating gel is put onto your skin to allow the transducer to move smoothly. Pulses of ultrasound are sent from a probe in the transducer, through your skin and into your body. They then bounce back from the structures of your body to be displayed as an image on the monitor.

Before having some types of ultrasound scan, you may be asked to follow certain instructions before the procedure, such as:

  • drink water and not go to the toilet until after the test – this is to fill your bladder and may be needed before a scan of your unborn baby or your pelvic area
  • avoid eating for several hours before the scan – this may be needed before a scan of your abdomen to lower the amount of air and gas in your stomach or bowel and enable your gallbladder to be better assessed
  • depending on the area of your body being examined, you may also be asked to remove some clothing and wear a hospital gown.

If you would like to understand more about ultrasound scans, when they are used and how they work, please visit the NHS website.

CT Scan

A computerised tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the inside of the body. CT scans are performed in the hospital by a radiographer.

CT scans can produce detailed images of many structures inside the body, including the internal organs, blood vessels and bones. They are generally used to diagnose certain conditions or help rule others out. They can also be used to guide specialist treatment and help monitor the progression of certain diseases.

Your appointment letter will mention anything you need to do to prepare for your scan, for example, you may be advised to avoid eating anything for several hours before your appointment to help make sure clear images are taken. Please follow any instructions given in your appointment letter carefully.

Having a CT scan can be a frightening experience for some people. Please let your radiologist know if you are worried as they will do their best to make you have a comfortable experience.

It is important to understand that the results of a CT scan are not immediately available. The computer needs to process your images after you have left the X-ray department. The processed images then need to be reviewed by a specialist skilled in interpreting the images before a report is generated. This report is then sent to the clinician that requested the scan. This whole process usually takes a couple of weeks or more.

Further information about CT scans is available on the NHS website.