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Imaging

Diagnostic imaging provides physicians an ability to see processes, bones, organs and tissue inside the body. Today there are a variety of imaging technologies available, each with its own advantages in image quality, purpose, exposure and cost.

The imaging department staff includes 6 full-and part-time staff, including 5 radiologic technicians (2 also certified as mammography technicians) and one ultrasound technician.

Images may be read by the radiologist onsite or through the department's picture archive communication system (PACS), which allows remote access to high quality images.

Bigfork Valley offers the following imaging techniques:

X-ray

Used for general diagnostics, x-ray imaging is offered in 2 dedicated rooms and 2 portable machines.

CT (computed tomography)

CT is used in diagnosing trauma and stroke, and for looking at internal organs, the brain and bones. It operates like an X-ray, looking at thin slices of the brain or body. The onsite CT machine at Bigfork Valley is a 16-slice GE Brightspeed. 

Mammography

Bigfork Valley is a Pink Ribbon facility with a Selenia® Dimension® digital mammography machine. Bigfork Valley offers a welcoming patient experience, including a private changing room, warmed capes and a signature pink room featuring a hand-pieced quilt made by the onsite Adult Day Stay. Mammography is an important screening and diagnostic tool for breast cancer. 

EKG (electrocardiogram)

The EKG reads the electronic impulses of your heart as blood flows through arteries and veins. It operates through electrodes temporarily attached to the body.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

MRI is usually used for imaging tissue such as muscles, tendons, heart and brain. It operates with a different technology than X-rays: a large magnet aligns hydrogen atoms in the body, then uses radio wave pulses to receive and record images. It is important not to wear any metal while in the machine. A mobile MRI machine is onsite weekly.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound is a noninvasive imaging technique using sound waves to look at soft tissues, blood flows and fetuses. It can identify cysts, masses and nodules and guide needles in chronic pain injections and biopsies. Bigfork Valley has a dedicated room and bathroom for use in ultrasound.

DEXA scan (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry)

DEXA scans measure the strength of bones to help prevent osteoporosis. The screening test will compare your bone density by height and weight to a standard 35-year-old.

C-arm (fluoroscopy)

Fluoroscopy is an x-ray technique often used in guided injections, orthopaedic placement and to resolve joint dislocations. Bigfork Valley has 2 machines; each can be rotated to various angles around the body.

Echocardiogram

Echocardiograms are performed by St. Mary’s staff at Bigfork Valley as needed. They are ultrasounds of the heart and are read by a St. Mary’s cardiologist.

Nuclear medicine imaging

This imaging technique scans the body for "hot spots" showing where radioactive tracer material injected, swallowed or inhaled by the patient has accumulated. It is used in finding cancers such as bone cancer, infections in the joints or gallbladder issues. Nuclear medicine is a mobile unit available onsite as needed and is read locally by Bigfork Valley's radiologist.