Your medical imaging exam could be a simple X-ray or ultrasound. Or, your doctor might have ordered one of the more complex exams, such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or nuclear medicine imaging. Whichever exam has been requested, they all have preparation instructions which are important to follow leading up to your appointment.
Often these preparation instructions can be found on the second page of your medical imaging requisition – the paperwork requesting the specific exam and explaining why it’s needed. Mayfair Diagnostics also describes how to prepare for each type of exam on our website, simply go to the services page and choose your exam. For example, go to the ultrasound service page and choose abdomen ultrasound.
We will explain how to prepare for your exam when you are booking your appointment. If you’ve signed up for email and/or text message notifications about your appointment, there will also be a link to your preparation instructions in your confirmation and reminder messages.
WHAT PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS APPLY TO MOST EXAMS?
For all exams we recommend the following:
- Arrive early to give you time to check in with reception. Usually, we ask that you arrive 10-15 minutes early, although some exams, such as MRI or CT, may have an arrival time of 30 or more minutes prior to your appointment. Your arrival time will be listed in your email confirmation.
- Bring identification. When you check in with reception, you will need to show your provincial health care card and photo identification to confirm your identity. We also ask that you bring your requisition with you, if we don’t already have this on file.
- Dress appropriately. Wear comfortable clothes that you can easily move around in or change out of. For example, two-piece clothing is recommended for mammography, exercise stress testing, and myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) exams. Also, it can be difficult to completely remove all of the ultrasound gel after your ultrasound, so it’s best to wear clothes that are easily washed.
- Be aware of metal on clothing and jewelry. For all exams that use X-rays, we ask that you not wear metal around the area being imaged. This applies to all bone mineral densitometry, bone scan with SPECT/CT, CT, pain management, and mammography exams. For MRI exams, no metal can be worn (underwire bras, jewelry, clothing, etc.) and you will also be asked about internal metal objects.
WHAT ARE SOME EXAM-SPECIFIC PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS?
Some preparation instructions are specific to the area being examined:
- Keep the area to be imaged clean and product-free. Mammograms are detailed X-rays of breast tissue and the under-arm area. For these exams, we ask that you don’t use deodorant, antiperspirant, lotions, or powder under the arms or near the breast area as some products can contain aluminum, which can affect the quality of the images.
- Some exams involve fasting. Abdominal exams (CT, MRI, and ultrasound) usually involve fasting before the exam, between 2-6 hours depending on the type of imaging used. This helps ensure there is no food or liquid in your stomach (and urine in your bladder) and allows for clearer images of the structures in your abdomen. You will need to check with your doctor to determine if you should continue to take any medications, and if a small amount of water is allowed.
- You may need to arrive with a full bladder. Kidney and bladder, pelvis, and several pregnancy ultrasounds require a full bladder. You will be directed to empty your bladder 90 minutes prior to your appointment, then drink one litre of water within the next 30 minutes. If you have a problem keeping a full bladder, you may arrive early to drink your water at the clinic. If you are too uncomfortable, you will be advised to void some urine to relieve the pressure, but not empty the bladder.
- You may need a driver. For pain management injections, some exams may require you to have a driver, while for others a driver may be optional depending on your level of discomfort.
- Your instructions may concern medication you are currently taking or will be advised to take. Some nuclear medicine imaging may have advice about medication you will need to avoid or stop taking. If you are on anticoagulation drugs (Plavix, Coumadin, Warfarin, etc.), you may need to have an international normalized ratio (INR) test and temporarily stop your medication prior to a pain management procedure. For viscosupplement injections* you will need to bring your medication with you to your appointment.
- Please advise us if you have a COVID-19 vaccination booked or completed within two weeks PRIOR to your scheduled appointment date or within one week AFTER your schedule appointment date, as this may require your pain management procedure to be rescheduled and may need to be noted during your mammogram.
*Medications are provided at cost, but prices vary depending on dosage and manufacturer. Please contact our pain management department for the most current price.
PLEASE CONTACT US IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS
The above preparation instructions are a general overview of the types of instructions you may receive. Depending on the type of exam you are booked for, your instructions may be more detailed than what we have outlined in this article. For example, some exams are two-part appointments, which occur over the course of one day, while others involve appointments occurring over two days.
For specific details about how to prepare for your medical imaging exam, please refer to our services page for a list of our exams. You can also contact the Mayfair Diagnostics Customer Contact Centre via the following options:
Mayfair Diagnostics has 13 clinics offering variety of services across Calgary, as well as one each in Cochrane, Regina, and Saskatoon.