Medical scans

If you are receiving urological care, you may need to have one or more scans. There are many different types of scans and often patients don’t understand the difference between them. Each of the medical scans work differently; some use radiation, whereas others use sound waves, radio waves or magnets. Your doctor will explain which scan is the best for your particular condition.

In this blog, we will explain some of the most common scans. If you have any questions before a scan, your doctor or nurse will be more than happy to explain them.


An X-ray was the first form of scan and has been around for over 120 years. These are still used every day, helping to show problems with bones and abnormal tissue. X-ray beams can only travel through certain parts of the body and so help to provide internal images of the body dependent on these tissue properties. An X-ray scan uses a small amount of radiation but this is not an unsafe level for humans, so you should not worry.

CT scan

CT scans work in the same way as an X-ray, but they give more information than an X-ray can. In a CT scan, beams are rotated around the whole body to create a 3D image. These scans can be performed very quickly and are often used in emergency cases to provide an immediate understanding of what might be happening. They can be carried out with or without injecting the patient with a contrast agent, which helps demonstrate the internal organs more clearly. Over the years, the way that CT scans are delivered has been improved to ensure that the patient receives as little radiation as possible, however they still have a significant radiation exposure and should be used with caution, particularly in the young.

MRI scan

MRI scans work in a different way to CT scans and X-rays. MRI scans use radio waves and strong magnets. During the scan, the patient is required to sit still for a prolonged period of time. Once the MRI scan has been completed, software is used to create a 3D image that shows the different tissue types. An MRI scan is more commonly used to diagnose problems with the tissue, such as muscle problems, blood flow problems and cancerous diseases.

Ultrasound scan

An ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to create images of the internal structures and is thought to be entirely safe. This is the same scan that is used in pregnant women. It is of great value in the assessment of the renal tract (kidney, ureters, bladder).

If you would like to speak to our team about having scans or discussing scan results, please call us on 07921 874889 or email us on

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