Full body scanning is a noninvasive, painless procedure that uses low-dose x-rays to screen the body from the brain to the pelvis for various diseases of the major organs.Virtual Check-Up™
Full Body Scanning

What is full body scanning?
Why is full body scanning important?
Who should have full body scanning?
How accurate is full body scanning?
How does full body scanning work?
What kind of preparation is involved?
What can I expect when I arrive for full body scanning?
What do the results of my full body scan tell me?
What do full body scanning images look like?
Is full body scanning safe?
How much does a full body scan cost?
Where can I have a full body scan?

What is full body scanning?
Full body scanning is a non-invasive, painless procedure that uses low-dose x-rays to screen the body from the brain to the pelvis for various diseases of the major organs. Full body scanning can detect heart, lung, musculoskeletal, endocrine, and prostate and ovarian disease as well as tumors, aneurysms, osteoporosis, hernias, and kidney and gall stones. Full body scanning is performed on a multislice computed tomography (CT) scanner in only 30 seconds. This study provides both two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) images of all types of tissue, allowing for more accurate detection of various cancers and diseases before symptoms occur.
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Why is full body scanning important?
Heart and lung disease are responsible for more than half of all deaths in the United Stateseach year. In 2002, approximately 1,284,900 individuals will be diagnosed with cancer and 555,500 will die of some form of cancer. Table 1 lists the estimated new cancer cases and deaths by site for the United Statesand Delawarein 2002. Most of these cancers progress slowly over time causing no immediate symptoms for the patient. As a result, they are diagnosed after symptoms have occurred, when therapy is no longer effective. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 3% to 35% of cancer deaths could be avoided through screening. Full body scanning can easily detect various cancers and common malignancies that a standard physical can miss. Discovering disease before symptoms occur allows for more effective treatment that is less costly or invasive.

Table 1. Estimated New Cancer Cases and Deaths in the United Statesand Delaware, 2002.

     
NEW CASES
 
NEW DEATHS
 
 
SITE OF CANCER
 
US
DE
 
US
DE
 
  All sites  

1,284,900

4100

555,500

1800

 
  Female breast  

205,000

600

40,000

100

 
  Uterine cervix  

13,000

100

4100

NA

 
  Uterine corpus  

39,300

100

6600

NA

 
  Liver  

16,600

NA

14,100

≤ 50

 
  Lung & bronchus  

169,400

600

154,900

500

 
  Ovary  

23,300

NA

13,900

≤ 50

 
  Pancreas  

30,300

NA

29,700

100

 
  Prostate  

56,500

600

30,200

100

 
  Urinary bladder  

16,600

300

12,600

NA

 
  Brain/Nervous system  

17,000

NA

13,100

≤ 50

 

Data from American Cancer Society. Cancer facts & figures 2002. Available at http://www.acs.org. Accessed on June 4, 2002.

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Who should have full body scanning?
Full body scanning is recommended for individuals over age 35, especially those at high risk for several diseases. Follow-up scanning is recommended every 5 years. Smokers and other patients at high risk for various diseases should consider follow-up scanning closer to every 3 years. Full body scanning should not be substituted for a physical by a family physician, but should be used as a compliment to regular medical care.
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How accurate is full body scanning?
Because this technology is new, results from long-term studies of survival rates, cost-effectiveness, and patient outcomes are not available. Experts in the field report that as many as 95% of their patients have positive findings on their full body scans. Approximately 33% of these findings are clinically significant, meaning that they may cause symptoms, require treatment, or need additional evaluation. An advantage of full body scanning is that the radiologist can precisely locate and measure disease within the body.

Physicians who are skeptical of full body scanning’s value cite that incidental findings can cause unnecessary stress for the patient over conditions that cannot be treated or may never result in symptoms. Although this is possible, the findings of a full body scan can be valuable information for the physician and patient about certain conditions that may cause future problems, but do not indicate a more serious pathology. For example, a kidney stone does not warrant immediate treatment, but the patient and family physician can be aware that this stone may eventually cause pain for the patient or require removal.

It is important to understand that a full body scan should not be used as a substitute for standard medical checkups by a primary care physician (PCP). A full body scan is intended to serve as a complement to a regular physical and to provide your PCP with a better, more complete picture of your overall health. A clear scan is not a clean bill of health and any new symptoms or conditions that develop after your study should be discussed with your PCP.
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How does full body scanning work?
Full body scanning at Diagnostic Imaging Associates is performed on the multislice GE LightSpeed Plus or LightSpeed16 CTscanner. CT stands for computed tomography, a process by which a digital picture is made by a computer after low-dose x-rays record a slice or cross section of the body. A radiologist then studies these cross-sectional images to detect the presence of various diseases in the vital organs. The word “slice” is often used to explain the images taken of patient anatomy because they are similar to a single slice of bread taken from a whole loaf.

As with a loaf of bread that is cut into many slices, computed tomography can make pictures of "slices" of the body’s internal structures.
Figure 1.
As with a loaf of bread that is cut into many slices, computed tomography can make pictures of “slices” of the body’s internal structures.

Our multislice GE scanner can capture these images of the heart during a single breath-holdDuring full body scanning, the patient is asked to lie on the table of the CT scanner. This tabletop moves the patient’s body through the scanner’s large opening (Figure 2), which houses an x-ray tube and detectors. The x-ray tube rotates around the patient as x-rays pass through the body to the detectors, where thousands of x-ray measurements are received. Next, the computer processes this information and displays the corresponding images on a computer screen. This imaging technique avoids any overlap of organs or tissues.
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What kind of preparation is involved?
No preparation is required for full body scanning. However, caffeine and smoking should be avoided 4 hours before the study to avoid an increased heart rate during cardiac scoring.
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What can I expect when I arrive for full body scanning?
When you arrive at Diagnostic Imaging Associates for full body scanning, you will be greeted by our staff at the front desk and escorted to a private waiting room. At this time, our Virtual Screening Manager will conduct a personal interview with you that will include questions about your family medical history and risk factors you may have for various diseases.

Next, you will be taken to a dressing room and asked to change into an examination gown. You will then be lead to the CT suite where a radiologic technologist will position you on the table of our multislice GE scanner. Cardiac scoring will be performed first. For this procedure, four electrodes will be placed on the chest—two high on the anterior chest and two low on the sides of the chest. These electrodes are connected to an ECG monitor that signals the CT scanner to take images of the heart while in diastole (between beats). This ensures a clearer, more accurate image. You will be asked to hold your breath while scout views are taken to locate the heart within the chest. During these scout views the technologist will enter your patient information (ie, name, patient number, examination date) into the computer workstation. The scout views will then be used to plot the slices of the body that will be recorded by the CT scanner. You will then be asked to hold your breath for 20 to 30 seconds while the CT scanner obtains the slices of the heart that will be used to detect and measure the amount of calcium in your coronary arteries. Holding your breath is very important because it eliminates blurring of the image that is caused by motion of the body during breathing.

Next, the electrodes will be removed from your chest and scout views will be taken of the other major organs in your body to make sure that the CT scanner records the images properly. You will be asked to hold your breath again for approximately 30 seconds. After the images are taken, you will be escorted back to the dressing room to change into your regular clothing. The results of your study will be mailed to you after three working days. Your report will include a summary of the radiologist’s findings, recommendations for further follow-up, and a CD-ROM of your results. Results will also be sent to your primary care physician, upon request. Because of the volume of images that must be analyzed, immediate results from the radiologist are not possible. Three working days allows the radiologist to take the proper amount of time to report accurate findings and, if necessary, to seek consultation with other physicians regarding any unusual findings. All Virtual Check-Up studies are read by on-site, board-certified radiologists with special training in CT scanning and neuroradiology.
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What do the results of my full body scan tell me?
If the radiologist reports a positive finding on your full body scan, it will be recommended that you see a specialist who can further evaluate your results. A positive finding on a full body scan is not a diagnosis of disease, but may be an indication that further follow-up tests are required to confirm the presence of malignancy. Many follow-up studies are noninvasive and can sufficiently rule out the presence of disease without biopsy or tissue examination. In healthy people, it is estimated that over 75% of positive findings on full body scans are harmless, such as benign nodules or scarring from a previous infection.

If your full body scan is negative (no signs of disease or cancer), it is important to realize that these results do not guarantee a clean bill of health in the future. If you remain at high risk for certain diseases, you may still develop pathology. You should continue to have regular checkups by your family physician and, if appropriate, consider follow-up full body scanning.

Your full body scan should not be used as a substitute for other screening tests such as mammography, Pap smears, bone densitometry, and blood tests for prostate cancer, diabetes, and cholesterol.
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What do full body scanning images look like?

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full body scanfull body scan

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Is full body scanning safe?
Each year the population of the United States is exposed to radiation from various background sources. The average dose of background radiation for a U.S. citizen living at sea level is 360 millirem (mrem). The estimated amount of radiation a patient receives from full body scanning the same amount as from a barium enema (approximately 540 mrem), a routine radiologic procedure. Evidence has shown that a radiation dose of 100 rem (100,000 mrem) or more can cause irreparable damage to cells.
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How much does a full body scan cost?
A full body scan, which includes cardiac scoring and lung screening, costs $850 at Diagnostic Imaging Associates. At this time, insurance plans do not cover the cost of this screening procedure because clinical trials examining the effectiveness of this study to prolong life have not been published. Diagnostic Imaging Associates accepts cash, check, and Visa and MasterCard. Payment is required at the time of your study.
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Where can I have a full body scan?
Diagnostic Imaging Associates is the first radiology provider in Delaware to offer Virtual Check-Up™ and requires no referral from a doctor or insurance plan. All virtual screening studies can be performed at three of our seven convenient locations – Omega Imaging & MRI, Brandywine , and Glasgow.
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