3 Types of Diagnostic Imaging

May 17, 2021


Here’s what it means when you need a medical imaging scan: X-ray, DEXA or ultrasound.

Your provider has said you need a diagnostic imaging study. What does that mean? Brenda Cummings, imaging manager for Adventist Health Feather River, explains what to expect with three key scans.


“An X-ray gives a clear picture of the internal structure of your body,” Cummings says. “It can help identify the source of pain, identify arthritis or uncover trauma.”

How does it work? An X-ray machine sends small amounts of radiation through the body, and the way it’s absorbed creates images of bones and other internal parts.

Do I need an appointment? No. Walk into the imaging office at your convenience.

How long does it take? Five to 20 minutes.

DEXA scan

If your provider thinks you may have a bone-related health concern, a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, or DEXA, scan can help with diagnosis. “It’s a very simple process,” Cummings says. “You lie on a table and have your lower back and hips scanned.”

How does it work? DEXA uses two X-ray beams to measure bone density and identify signs of osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become weak.

Do I need an appointment? Yes. Your provider will give you details.

How long does it take? About 15 minutes.


“Most people think of an ultrasound in terms of pregnancy, but it can be used to take a closer look at many internal organs,” Cummings says. “It is often used to find the cause of pain, which could be due to swelling or infection.”

How does it work? A technician places a wand on the skin that uses sound waves to create pictures of soft tissues or internal organs. Your provider may advise that you arrive with an empty stomach or a full bladder, and you’ll be asked to undress and wear a gown.

Do I need an appointment? Yes. Your provider will give you details.

How long does it take? About 45 minutes.

What happens after the diagnostic imaging scan?

After your diagnostic imaging scan, a radiologist will review your scans and send the results to your doctor, usually in 24 to 48 hours. Some imaging results may be accessible in the MyAdventistHealth patient portal. Your doctor will review the radiologist’s report and contact you with the next steps, either to share a diagnosis and discuss treatment options or to recommend additional testing.

Convenient care in Corning

Along with X-rays, DEXA scans and ultrasounds, Corning Health Center offers these services close to home:

  • Behavioral health
  • Dental care
  • Diabetes education
  • Laboratory testing
  • Nephrology (kidney care)
  • Podiatry (foot and ankle care)
  • Primary care

Get a clear look

Request an appointment online for your X-ray, DEXA scan or ultrasound at AdventistHealthFeatherRiver.org/Imaging.