Through hospital and affiliate resources, our Comprehensive Community Cancer Program has access to some of the most advanced diagnostic and treatment capabilities available today. The sophistication of these capabilities is rare among community hospitals and it actively demonstrates Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System's enduring commitment to caring for people with cancer.
Computerized Tomography (CT)
Computerized tomography, sometimes called CT scan or CAT scan, uses special X-ray equipment to obtain image data from difference angles around the body. A computer then processes these images to show multiple cross-sections of the tissue and organs. CT imaging is particularly useful because it can show several types of tissues — lungs, bones, soft tissue and blood vessels — with great clarity. With the amount of detail shown on CT scans, radiologists can more easily diagnose cancers, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, trauma, and muscle and skeletal disorders. CT exams are used to plan and administer radiation treatments for tumors, guide biopsies, and plan surgery. CT images are also used to measure bone density for the detection of osteoporosis. Calcium scoring of the heart is another proactive use of the CT scan. CT scans play a significant role in the early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancers and heart disease.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET/CT)
Positron Emission Tomography (PET/CT) is a diagnostic tool that uses radioisotopes to image the body's biochemical functions, detecting the presence, recurrence or spread of various types of cancer. Certain subtle changes in the body's biochemistry are indications of different types of cancers, including but not limited to colon cancer, breast cancer, lymphoma, lung cancer, and melanoma. PET/CT scans go beyond the scope of MRI and CT images to reveal the disease process before visible signs and symptoms may occur. PET/CT is also being utilized as a tool to identify early stage heart disease and brain disorders.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI is a diagnostic technique that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create cross-sectional images of the head and body. MRI images are used in the diagnosis of central nervous system disorders as well as joint, ligament, muscle, and bone problems. Organ function, blood flow, presence of growths or lesions, and abnormal size or position of organs, bones, blood vessels or soft tissue structures are all analyzed by the radiologist evaluating the MRI images. Identifying damage caused by heart attack or heart disease and detection of plaque and blockages in the blood vessels are just a few examples of what the MRI reveals.
Ultrasound scanning works like underwater sonar using a device similar to a microphone pressed against the area being scanned. Most ultrasound scans are done from outside the body, through the skin. This device sends out very high frequency sound waves, which go into the area being examined and bounce back when they hit an organ or blood vessel. These sound waves are processed by a computer, which produces a map of the area being scanned. This technique allows the radiographer to see static structures and to observe moving parts such as the heart of a baby in the womb or the valves inside an adult heart.
Diagnostic radiology, more familiarly known as X-ray, is the oldest form of medical imaging. X-ray is a fast, painless, and safe way for a doctor to view and assess conditions ranging from broken bones to pneumonia to cancer. More specifically, X-rays may be used to determine whether a bone is chipped, dislocated, or broken; evaluate joint injuries and bone infections; diagnose and monitor the progression of degenerative conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis; screen for heart and lung diseases; find and treat artery blockages; diagnose the cause of persistent coughing or chest pain; evaluate unexplained abdominal pain; help locate objects that may have been accidentally swallowed by a child; determine whether a bone or disk in the spine has been injured; detect scoliosis and other spinal defects; evaluate sinus infections; locate dental problems; diagnose lung, intestinal; stomach, liver, spleen, kidney, and breast cancer; and determine whether cancer has spread to the lungs from another part of the body.
Nuclear medicine includes diagnostic examinations that result in images of body anatomy and function. These images result from detection of energy emitted from harmless radioactive substances given to the patient, either intravenously or by mouth. Nuclear medicine images assist physicians in diagnosing diseases, tumors and infections. Specifically, nuclear medicine can be used to analyze kidney function; show blood flow and functions of the heart; scan lungs for respiratory and blood-flow problems; identify blockage of the gallbladder; evaluate bones for fracture, infection, arthritis or tumor; determine the presence or spread of cancer; identify bleeding into the bowel; locate the presence of infection; and measure thyroid function to detect an overactive or underactive thyroid gland.