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Patient Care

At UNC Radiology, we want to make sure our patients are prepared for any and all testing that they need. We understand that being in the hospital or clinic can be overwhelming. We believe that by providing comprehensive information about what to expect for your test or procedure and how best to prepare for it can help alleviate some concerns or fears.


  • Let the breast biopsy team know:
    • If you have ever had problems with bleeding during past biopsies or dental procedures.
    • If you take any blood thinning medicines (Aggrenox, Coumadin or Warfarin), Eliquis, Lovenox, Plavix, or Pradaxa). We may ask you and your primary provider if it is safe to stop these medications before your biopsy.
  • When you arrive to clinic, the radiologist will discuss the steps of the biopsy, answer your questions, and get your written permission on a consent form to do the procedure.
  • If you are planning to take any medication to reduce anxiety (worry) right before your biopsy, please tell the breast biopsy team BEFORE you sign the consent form. You will then need someone else to drive you home.
  • Wearing loose fitting clothing and a supportive bra (sports bra) are recommended.
  • Think about taking a shower or bath BEFORE the biopsy.
  • You can eat and drink before the biopsy.

Types of Breast Biopsies PDF
Breast Biopsies Patient Info PDF
Biopsy: After Visit Instructions PDF

  • Breasts contain two types of tissue: 1) Fibroglandular and 2) Fat.
  • Breast density refers to the amount of fibroglandular tissue in the breasts compared to fat. The more fibroglandular tissue you have, the more dense your breasts are. The more fat you have, the less dense your breasts are.
  • Breast density is important because it can affect how well the doctor can look inside your breast on the mammogram.
  • Denser breasts can make it harder to see things that might be hiding in the breasts, such as cancer. Dense breast tissue is white on your mammogram, but cancer is also white on a mammogram and can hide in denser breasts.

Breast Density Patient Education Resource PDF
Breast Pain Patient Education Resource PDF

Plan to arrive early. Your provider will tell you when to come to your appointment.
Don’t eat for four hours before your CT scan.
Drink only clear liquids (like water, juice or tea) in the two hours leading up to your appointment.
Wear comfortable clothes and remove any metal jewelry, eyeglasses, or hairpins, as some of these can obscure the images. Your provider may give you a hospital gown to wear. In most cases, you do not need any special preparation.

During the procedure, you will lie down on a table that slides into a donut-shaped machine. It is important to stay still to get clear images. The machine will make quiet whirring sounds as it takes pictures. Sometimes, a contrast dye is used to enhance the images, usually given through a vein in your arm. This dye helps highlight blood vessels and certain structures, making them easier to see. After the scan, you can usually go about your normal activities. Our expert neuroradiologists will review the images and discuss the results with your referring physician, who will communicate with you and let you know about the next steps.

CT scans are generally safe, but they do involve a small amount of radiation exposure. Your doctor will weigh the benefits against the risks. If you are pregnant or might be pregnant, let your doctor know, as we aim to minimize radiation exposure to the baby whenever possible.

Allergy medication: If you’re allergic to the contrast agent used for CT (which contains iodine), you may need to take steroid and antihistamine medications the night before and the morning of your procedure. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider and have them order these medications for you if needed. (Contrast agents for MRI and CT are different. Being allergic to one doesn’t mean you’re allergic to the other.)

Depending on your health status, your doctor may furnish you with specific instructions for preparing for your fluoroscopy exam. While certain x-ray procedures, like chest and bone x-rays, typically necessitate no preparation, exceptions apply to fluoroscopy exams targeting the digestive system or kidneys. Examples include the upper GI series, upper GI with small bowel exam, barium enema, intravenous pyelogram (kidney exam), or esophagram.

For these tests, it is commonly advised to refrain from eating or drinking anything after midnight on the evening preceding your procedure, requiring a period of fasting. Additionally, it is recommended to abstain from taking your regular morning medications. Instead, bring them along so that your doctor can provide guidance on whether you should delay taking them and, if so, specify when you can safely do so following the examination.

If you’re going to a facility for the first time, bring a list of the places and dates of mammograms, biopsies, or any other breast procedures you’ve had before.
If you’ve had mammograms at another facility, try to get those records to bring with you to the new facility (or have them sent there) so the old pictures can be compared to the new ones.
Schedule your mammogram for when your breasts aren’t likely to be tender or swollen, to help reduce discomfort and get good pictures. Try to avoid the week just before your period.
On the day of the exam, don’t apply deodorant, antiperspirant, powders, lotions, creams, or perfumes under your arms, or on or under your breasts. Some of these contain substances that can show up on the x-ray as white spots. If you’re not going home after your exam, you might want to take your deodorant or antiperspirant with you to put on after your exam. (Many centers will have cleaning and deodorant wipes to help you wipe off the deodorant and then replace it after the exam.)
You might find it easier to wear a skirt or pants, so that you’ll only need to remove your top and bra for the mammogram.

Radiation Exposure Patient Educations Resource PDF
Screening VS Diagnostic Patient Education Resource PDF

All Body MRI
0-18 Years
Routine diet, unless sedation is anticipated

All Neuro/Spine MRI
0-18 Years
Routine diet, unless sedation is anticipated

Generally, you will not need special preparation before the exam. MRI scans are generally safe and do not involve radiation. However, if you have certain metallic implants or devices (like pacemakers or nerve stimulators), be sure to inform your doctor before the scan. You will be screened by a technologist and may be asked to remove all metal objects like jewelry or hairpins before going into the MRI room. This is done to keep you safe, as things made of metal can become a hazard if the strong magnets in the MRI room pull on them.

During the procedure, you will lie down on a table that moves into a tunnel-like machine. An MRI scan takes significantly longer than a CT scan, and it is important to stay as still as possible to ensure clear images. The machine will make loud knocking sounds, which are normal. Our centers offer music or headphones to help you relax. Sometimes, a special dye called contrast material might be used to make certain structures more visible in the images. It is usually injected into a vein in your arm. Once the MRI is done, you can usually resume your regular activities. Our expert neuroradiologists will review the images and discuss the results with your referring physician, who will let you know what was seen and next steps.

The majority of ultrasound examinations typically do not necessitate any special preparations. However, there are a few exceptions:

Gallbladder Ultrasound: If you’re undergoing a gallbladder ultrasound, your healthcare provider might instruct you to abstain from eating or drinking for a specified duration before the exam.

Pelvic Ultrasound: Some scans, like a pelvic ultrasound, may require a full bladder. Your doctor will provide guidance on the amount of water you should drink before the examination and advise against urinating until the procedure is completed.

It’s important to note that young children undergoing ultrasound may require additional preparation. When scheduling an ultrasound for yourself or your child, it’s advisable to consult your doctor for any specific instructions that need to be followed.


During scheduling, any special instructions will be given to the parents. The need for sedation or anesthesia will also be discussed.
Most CT exams require intravenous (IV) dye (contrast). Contrast helps highlight important body parts needed for an accurate diagnosis. IV contrast is not harmful to children with normal renal function. Minimal pain may be felt during the insertion of the IV. If your child needs help getting through the IV insertion, child life specialists may be able to help with distractions and other techniques.
Please look at our Pediatric CT document for details about what to expect when doing a CT scan.
Fetal MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is like a special camera. It takes pictures of babies inside their mom’s belly. These pictures help doctors see the baby closely before the baby is born. MRI is safe for both the mom and the baby.
Fetal MRI will be indicated when the doctor needs a better look at the baby after doing an ultrasound. This can be because the ultrasound could not see well a portion of the baby or when an abnormality is suspected. Fetal MRI is performed in the second or third trimester. Fetal MRI may be use in the first trimester of pregnancy in case of a medical emergency.
Please look at our Fetal MRI document for details about what to expect when doing a MRI scan.
Fluoroscopy is an x-ray machine that takes real time pictures and movies of the child’s body. Different from conventional radiographs that takes static pictures.
During scheduling, any especial instructions (fasting, etc) will be giving to the parents. The need for sedation will also be discussed.
Fluoroscopic exams are mostly performed with the use of dye (contrast). Contrast will highlight in real time the body part being studied, giving both anatomical and functional information. Contrast can be used orally (patient drinking the contrast during the exam); via tubes/ lines already in the patient’s body or via the patient’s urethra (the channel by which the child pee). Contrast is administered via the child’s urethra in voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) exams. A urethral catheter will need to be placed by the radiology team prior to the exam (unless the child already has one).  Our nationally recognized pediatric sedation service can provide sedation when needed.

Please look at our Pediatric Fluoroscopy document for details about what to expect when doing a scan.

MRI is a large machine with a hole in the middle, like a tunnel. It uses a large magnet and radio waves to produce pictures of the child’s body. The pictures will be seen on a computer by the radiology doctors.
During scheduling, any especial instructions (fasting etc) will be giving to the parents. The need for sedation or anesthesia will also be discussed.
The child’s body part that needs to be seen will be placed inside of the tunnel. The machine does not hurt or touch the patient. Depending on the body part, additional devices may be put around the patient (known as coils). The coils can be like a stiff blanket or like a helmet. These coils also do not hurt. Sometimes, very mild vibration can be felt while the machine is working.
Please look at our Pediatric Magnetic Resonance Imaging document for details about what to expect when doing a scan.

Nuclear medicine uses radiotracers that selectively targets an organ system for either treatment of a disease or diagnostic pictures.

During scheduling, any special instructions (fasting, etc) will be giving to the parents.

The pictures will be taken via a gamma camera or another hybrid imaging modality such as SPECT/CT, PET/CT or PET/MRI. Therefore, the camera to be used will depend on the exam ordered by the doctor. It may stay still on top of your child or rotate around the body. It does not touch or hurt your child. Pictures may be taken on the same day of the radiotracer injection or days after.

Before leaving the hospital, your nurse will go over some instructions with you to help you look after your child at home.

Please look at our Pediatric Nuclear Medicine document for details about what to expect when doing a scan.

Ultrasound is a machine that used sound waves to take real time pictures and videos of the child’s body. It looks like a large computer screen on wheels. It does not use radiation and therefore a great for children. It is a great exam to look for the abdominal organs, ovaries, testicles, neck, hips and spine of infants, soft tissue lumps and intracranial structures during the neonatal period.
During scheduling, any especial instructions (fasting, full bladder, etc) will be giving to the parents.

Once in the radiology department, your child will be placed in the ultrasound room. The room is quiet with dim lights. Parents can and are encouraged to stay with the child during the entire exam.

Please look at our Pediatric Ultrasound document for details about what to expect when doing a scan.