Imaging services

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Bone density scans
Bone density scans
Tomosynthesis (3D) digital mammography
CT scans
PET scans
Ultrasound imaging
Nuclear imaging

Bone density scans

Osteoporosis, a condition characterized by a decrease in bone density resulting in fragile bones, is a serious but common health concern, especially among postmenopausal women.

A bone density test is recommended for women who are:

  • Older than 65 years old
  • Postmenopausal, with a fracture or at least one other risk factor besides menopause
  • Considering osteoporosis therapy
  • Undergoing prolonged osteoporosis therapy

Primary care physicians may also refer men for bone density scans based on factors such as family history and the use of certain drugs that can affect bone mass.

Using a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scanner, our physicians can precisely determine bone density and thus identify osteoporosis before a fracture occurs, while there is still time to preserve bone density. The test simply involves a patient resting on an exam table for a few minutes while a densitometer measures bone mineral density, which is compared to data from others in the patient's age group. This painless, extremely safe test takes only minutes and is available with a physician's order. It can be performed by appointment at Park Avenue Imaging.

It is important to have follow-up tests done with the same equipment for the most precise comparison, so please schedule follow-up tests accordingly.

Tomosynthesis (3D) digital mammography

Tomosynthesis technology is also referred to as “3D mammography” because it generates a three-dimensional view of the breast. Similar to how a CT scan (a machine that resembles a giant donut) rotates around the body, digital tomosynthesis uses an X-ray tube to arc around a patient’s breast, taking multiple images from many different angles.

Because the digital tomosynthesis creates a layer-by-layer look of the breast tissue, breast cancer that is “hiding” among non-fatty tissue can be more easily detected. Additionally, it has been proven that patients are less frequently called back to the office for additional testing, meaning fewer procedures and fewer false positives.

For those concerned with radiation exposure, it is important to know that mammograms require very small doses of radiation, and tomosynthesis does take a few seconds longer than traditional mammography. However, nearly all experts agree that the benefits of the screening far outweigh any potential harm due to radiation exposure. Still, women should speak with their healthcare provider for any concerns regarding radiation exposure, especially if pregnant.

Digital tomosynthesis is now an option for patients at the Mount Nittany Health Breast Care Center. Patients are encouraged to ask their healthcare insurance provider if tomosynthesis is covered.


At Mount Nittany Health – Blue Course Drive and Mount Nittany Medical Center, our MRI scanners feature a large opening, which provides our patients with a more comfortable atmosphere than other scanners.

An MRI takes pictures of the body from all angles so that the doctors can look at body parts, organs and tissues from head to toe.

Instead of X-rays, MRI uses a large magnet and radio waves to create detailed images. Some patients may be injected with a special dye for better image contrast in order to obtain additional information.

MRIs can help physicians diagnose a number of different conditions, including:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Tumors
  • Certain spinal conditions and diseases
  • Hydrocephalus (water on the brain)
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Cancer
  • Musculoskeletal problems affecting tendons, ligaments, cartilage and bone marrow

To prepare for an MRI, which takes 30 minutes to an hour to complete, please follow all instructions from your physician, including:

  • Remove all metal objects (such as glasses, belts and jewelry).
  • Do not wear makeup, which can contain some metal.
  • Make sure to advise your physician or MRI technician if you've had any previous surgery, have implants like a pacemaker, have metal splinters in your body, have tattoos or are pregnant or might be pregnant.
  • Remain as still as possible during the procedure.

CT scans

Computerized tomography, also referred to as a CT or CAT scan, differs from an MRI in that this procedure uses X-rays instead of magnets to create cross-section images of soft tissue, bone and blood vessels for diagnosing illnesses and injuries or monitoring some treatments. CT scans can be ordered for:

  • Cardiac and coronary vessel analysis
  • Coronary artery calcification scoring
  • Blood clots and enlarged ventricles in the head
  • Brain tumors
  • Some abnormalities associated with certain mental illnesses
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Pancreatic disease
  • Trauma/emergency situations
  • Stroke assessment
  • Oncology/cancer care
  • Pulmonary emboli
  • Inner ear ailments
  • Spinal injuries and back problems
  • Lung cancer

The scan itself is quick and painless, though it is very important to remain still for the best-possible images. All jewelry should be removed to avoid interfering with the image. Depending on what is being scanned, a patient may need to wear a gown for the scan.

Some CT scans require fasting, and some require a contrast to be taken for the best-possible images. Your physician will advise you of any special instructions for your scan.

PET scans

Positron emission tomography (PET) scans are used to measure blood flow, oxygen use and glucose metabolism to determine organ and tissue functioning. They can be ordered to detect or monitor certain kinds of cancer, brain disorders and heart disease. Physicians often use PET scans with CT scans to create images revealing abnormal metabolic activity.

PET scans often include a radioactive substance that is injected, inhaled or swallowed. After the substance takes effect (up to an hour later), the patient lies on a table that slides into the scanner, like a closed MRI.


X-rays — traditional basic radiology — obtain images of breaks, fractures, tumors and degenerative conditions. They are also used for preoperative chest imaging or for examining dialysis patients.

X-ray services are available at:

Ultrasound imaging

Ultrasound imaging involves exposing a part of the body to high-frequency sound waves to produce images of internal organs and blood flow through blood vessels. These images are captured in real time, showing 3D structure and movement. Most exams are completed within 30 minutes to an hour.

The obstetrics-gynecology department can provide transvaginal and transabdominal pelvic ultrasounds.

The Mount Nittany Health Breast Care Center offers ultrasounds and needle localizations, as well as ultrasound-guided, stereotactic localization and cyst aspiration ultrasounds.

Nuclear imaging

Nuclear imaging is used to diagnose or treat a variety of diseases, including heart disease and certain types of cancers. This procedure creates images of organs using radiopharmaceuticals.

Depending on the type of exam needed, a radiotracer is either injected or swallowed. Detailed images of the function and structure of organs and tissue are produced and read by the radiologist to detect and diagnose disease. The imaging is non-invasive and usually painless.