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Radiology | Auckland | Te Toka Tumai | Te Whatu Ora

Public Service, Radiology, Pregnancy Ultrasound

Today

Auckland City Hospital

7:30 AM to 5:00 PM.

Description

Formerly Auckland DHB Radiology
 
What is Radiology? 
Radiological procedures are used for looking at the internal structures of the body, whether bone or soft tissue. Usually these examinations are carried out to:
  • diagnose disease states, such as cancer or heart disease
  • show if there is injury to body structures
  • provide images of organs to help other specialists repair problems e.g. angiography of the heart.
 
The radiologist may use different methods such as X-ray, Computer Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Ultrasound as well as some other specialised types of radiological imaging.
 
The Team
  • Medical Imaging Technologists (MITs) - formerly known as Medical Radiation Technologists (MRTs) or Radiographers perform your X-ray, MRI, CT, barium and mammography examinations.
  • Sonographers are MITs who perform your ultrasound examinations.
  • Radiologists are specialist doctors who read and understand your films. They will also be involved if you have an intravenous urogram (IVU), X-ray, MRI, CT, barium study, mammogram and a number of other ultrasound procedures. They interpret the results of the images and send them to your doctor.

How Safe is Radiology?
Some forms of radiology use sound waves, some use x-rays and some use magnetic fields. Nuclear medicine uses small amounts of radioactive material injected into the body to help with patient diagnosis.

The sound waves (ultrasound) and the magnetic fields (MRI scan), as far as we know, have no harmful side effects. X-rays and Nuclear Medicine use what is known as ionising radiation. Large single ionising radiation doses that are much greater than those used in medical diagnosis, are known to carry a risk of causing cancer. At the radiation dose levels used in medicine it is unclear what, if any increase in cancer risk exists. We are obliged by law to make sure we only use ionising radiation when we think the potential benefits to you are greater than the risks. We carefully select the lowest dose procedure to provide you and your doctor with the diagnostic information needed to best manage your health. If you wish to find out more about the radiation risks of different radiology procedures please click here.

Consultants

Note: Please note below that some people are not available at all locations.

Doctors

Note: Please note below that some people are not available at all locations.

  • Dr Karen Billington

    Radiologist

    Available at Greenlane Clinical Centre, Auckland City Hospital

Referral Expectations

You must be assessed by your GP before you can be referred to the Radiology Department at the Auckland DHB (Greenlane and Starship sites). As there is only a certain amount of money and a limited number of specialists working at the hospital, it is not possible for the Radiology Department to see every patient who is referred.

There are currently more requests for appointments than we have the capacity to see. All requests from GPs for x-rays and ultrasound and other examinations should be made using the electronic referrals tool that GPs have on their computers. This tool helps the GP to know whether a particular imaging request is likely to be the right one. Sometimes it will advise him/her that other tests are needed before/or/ instead of an x-ray or ultrasound, or CT/MRI. Once the referral is received by the hospital, a priority rating is attached to that referral. The most urgent cases get seen first and more routine cases will wait longer. Referrals where a requested imaging exam has little chance of contributing to the diagnosis will not be done at all. In this latter case, the referring doctor will receive a letter suggesting an alternative (better) pathway to advance the diagnosis in that patient.

Radiology does have a role to play in providing reassurance that a particular disease is not present. However, where the chance of a patient having that disease is very small, this role for radiology must take second place to the diagnostic role in the public hospital, where resources are very limited. The private sector radiology service has the capacity provide the reassurance role for a fee.

Once the referral from your general practitioner is accepted by us we will write to you giving you an appointment time and date. These appointments are scarce.  If you do receive one, please turn up on the day because, if you do not turn up, you will deprive another patient of this valuable appointment.

When you come please bring with you:

1.       Any letters or reports from your doctor or other hospital.
2.       Any previous ultrasound, X-Rays, CT or MRI films and reports.
3.       All medicines you are taking including herbal and natural remedies.
4.       Your pharmaceutical entitlement card.
5.       Your ACC number, if you have one.
 

If you have an urgent orthopaedic condition such as a fracture or a bone infection, your doctor will send you to the Emergency Department at Auckland City Hospital and the doctors there will arrange x-rays or scans on the same day.

If you have a condition that was caused by an accident, you can get x-rays and scans done in the private sector and most of this cost will be paid for by the Accident Compensation Corporation. You will often receive swifter attention under the cover of the Accident Compensation Corporation in the private sector. 

Hours

Auckland City Hospital

7:30 AM to 5:00 PM.

Mon – Fri 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM

Procedures / Treatments

X-ray

An X-ray is a form of radiated energy that can pass through human tissues. It cannot be seen with the naked eye, but can be picked up on photographic film or electronic sensor. Although you may think of an X-ray as a picture of bones, doctors are trained to see air spaces, like the lungs (which look black) and fluid (which looks white, but not as white as bones). What to expect? You will have all metal objects removed from your body. You will be asked to remain still in a specific position and hold your breath. There are staff present, but they will not necessarily remain in the room, but will speak with you via an intercom system and will be watching you constantly through a window in the control room. The examination time will vary depending on the type of procedure required, but as a rule it will take around 30 minutes.

An X-ray is a form of radiated energy that can pass through human tissues.  It cannot be seen with the naked eye, but can be picked up on photographic film or electronic sensor. Although you may think of an X-ray as a picture of bones, doctors are trained to see air spaces, like the lungs (which look black) and fluid (which looks white, but not as white as bones).
 
What to expect?
You will have all metal objects removed from your body.  You will be asked to remain still in a specific position and hold your breath.  There are staff present, but they will not necessarily remain in the room, but will speak with you via an intercom system and will be watching you constantly through a window in the control room.
The examination time will vary depending on the type of procedure required, but as a rule it will take around 30 minutes.
Computer Tomography (CT)

A CT scan can show more structures within the body than can a normal X-ray. A CT image is created by using an X-ray beam which is sent through the body from different angles and, by using a complicated mathematical process, the computer of the CT is able to produce an image. This allows cross-sectional images of the body without cutting it open. The CT is used to view all body structures but especially soft tissue such as body organs (heart, lungs, liver etc). What to expect? You will have all metal objects removed from your body. You will lie down on a narrow padded moveable table that will be slid into the scanner through a circular opening. You will feel nothing while the scan is in progress, but some people can feel slightly claustrophobic or closed in, whilst inside the scanner. You will be asked to remain still and hold your breath on command. There are staff present, but they will not necessarily remain in the room, but will speak with you via an intercom system and will be viewing the procedure constantly through a windowed control room, from where they will run the scanner. Some procedures will require Contrast medium. Contrast medium is a substance that makes the image of the CT or MRI clearer. Contrast medium can be given by mouth, rectally or by injection into the bloodstream. The scan time will vary depending on the type of examination required, but as a rule it will take around 30 minutes.

A CT scan can show more structures within the body than can a normal X-ray. A CT image is created by using an X-ray beam which is sent through the body from different angles and, by using a complicated mathematical process, the computer of the CT is able to produce an image.  This allows cross-sectional images of the body without cutting it open.  The CT is used to view all body structures but especially soft tissue such as body organs (heart, lungs, liver etc).
 
What to expect?
You will have all metal objects removed from your body.  You will lie down on a narrow padded moveable table that will be slid into the scanner through a circular opening.
You will feel nothing while the scan is in progress, but some people can feel slightly claustrophobic or closed in, whilst inside the scanner.  You will be asked to remain still and hold your breath on command.  There are staff present, but they will not necessarily remain in the room, but will speak with you via an intercom system and will be viewing the procedure constantly through a windowed control room, from where they will run the scanner.
Some procedures will require Contrast medium. Contrast medium is a substance that makes the image of the CT or MRI clearer. Contrast medium can be given by mouth, rectally or by injection into the bloodstream.
The scan time will vary depending on the type of examination required, but as a rule it will take around 30 minutes.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

An MRI machine does not work like an X-ray or CT as it does not use any form of ionising radiation. Instead it uses a combination of magnetic fields and radio waves. It can create exact images of internal organs and body structures. However, a typical MRI scan takes considerably longer to perform than either an x-ray or a CT scan. What to expect? You will have all metal objects removed from your body. You will lie down on a narrow padded moveable table that will be slid into the scanner through a circular opening. You will feel nothing while the scan is in progress, but some people can feel slightly claustrophobic or closed in, whilst inside the scanner. You will be asked to remain still and hold your breath on command. There are staff present, but they will not necessarily remain in the room, but will speak with you via an intercom system and will be viewing the procedure constantly through a windowed control room, from where they will run the scanner. Some procedures will require Contrast medium. Contrast medium is a substance that makes the image of the CT or MRI clearer. Contrast can be given by mouth, rectally or by injection into the bloodstream. The scan time will vary depending on the type of examination required, but as a rule it will take around 30 minutes. ADHB Radiology MRI from Fiona Dorrell on Vimeo.

An MRI machine does not work like an X-ray or CT as it does not use any form of ionising radiation. Instead it uses a combination of magnetic fields and radio waves. It can create exact images of internal organs and body structures. However, a typical MRI scan takes considerably longer to perform than either an x-ray or a CT scan.
 
What to expect?
You will have all metal objects removed from your body.  You will lie down on a narrow padded moveable table that will be slid into the scanner through a circular opening.
You will feel nothing while the scan is in progress, but some people can feel slightly claustrophobic or closed in, whilst inside the scanner.  You will be asked to remain still and hold your breath on command.  There are staff present, but they will not necessarily remain in the room, but will speak with you via an intercom system and will be viewing the procedure constantly through a windowed control room, from where they will run the scanner.
Some procedures will require Contrast medium. Contrast medium is a substance that makes the image of the CT or MRI clearer. Contrast can be given by mouth, rectally or by injection into the bloodstream.
The scan time will vary depending on the type of examination required, but as a rule it will take around 30 minutes.

 

ADHB Radiology MRI from Fiona Dorrell on Vimeo.

 
 
Ultrasound

In ultrasound, a beam of sound at a very high frequency (that cannot be heard) is sent into the body from a small vibrating crystal in a hand-held scanner head. When the beam meets a surface between tissues of different density, echoes of the sound beam are sent back into the scanner head. The time between sending the sound and receiving the echo back is fed into a computer, which in turn creates an image that is projected on a television screen. Ultrasound is a very safe type of imaging because it uses sound waves and not ionising radiation; this is why it is so widely used during pregnancy. Ultrasound examinations are not useful for determining the nature of "lumps". For this you will need either a biopsy or an MRI scan. Doppler Ultrasound A Doppler study is a noninvasive test that can be used to evaluate blood flow by bouncing high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) off red blood cells. The Doppler Effect is a change in the frequency of sound waves caused by moving objects. A Doppler study can estimate how fast blood flows by measuring the rate of change in its pitch (frequency). A Doppler study can help diagnose blood clots, heart and leg valve problems and blocked or narrowed arteries. What to expect? After lying down, the area to be examined will be exposed. Generally a contact gel will be used between the scanner head and skin. The scanner head is then pressed against your skin and moved around and over the area to be examined. At the same time the internal images will appear onto a screen.

In ultrasound, a beam of sound at a very high frequency (that cannot be heard) is sent into the body from a small vibrating crystal in a hand-held scanner head.  When the beam meets a surface between tissues of different density, echoes of the sound beam are sent back into the scanner head.  The time between sending the sound and receiving the echo back is fed into a computer, which in turn creates an image that is projected on a television screen.  Ultrasound is a very safe type of imaging because it uses sound waves and not ionising radiation; this is why it is so widely used during pregnancy. Ultrasound examinations are not useful for determining the nature of "lumps". For this you will need either a biopsy or an MRI scan.
 
Doppler Ultrasound
A Doppler study is a noninvasive test that can be used to evaluate blood flow by bouncing high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) off red blood cells. The Doppler Effect is a change in the frequency of sound waves caused by moving objects. A Doppler study can estimate how fast blood flows by measuring the rate of change in its pitch (frequency).  A Doppler study can help diagnose blood clots, heart and leg valve problems and blocked or narrowed arteries.
 
What to expect?
After lying down, the area to be examined will be exposed.  Generally a contact gel will be used between the scanner head and skin.  The scanner head is then pressed against your skin and moved around and over the area to be examined.  At the same time the internal images will appear onto a screen.
Radionuclide Scanning

This is a specialised scanning method using low-level radioactive isotopes, injected into the bloodstream. The scanner is called a gamma camera and is used to measure the radiation levels given off from the isotopes. Some types of this scan are used for the following: assessment of thyroid function, location of tumours and possible spread, checking of bone fractures, assessing damage to the heart after coronary episodes.

This is a specialised scanning method using low-level radioactive isotopes, injected into the bloodstream.  The scanner is called a gamma camera and is used to measure the radiation levels given off from the isotopes.  Some types of this scan are used for the following: assessment of thyroid function, location of tumours and possible spread, checking of bone fractures, assessing damage to the heart after coronary episodes.
Barium Enema

A barium enema is an X-ray procedure to examine the lower part of the gastrointestinal tract (large bowel). Barium is a thick white chalky substance that shows up on an X-ray. Barium moves quickly through the gastrointestinal tract and is not easily absorbed by the body. This procedure allows a clear picture of the outline of the bowel and shows up any abnormalities. The test takes around 45 minutes. Barium enemas are rarely done these days because they have been replaced by another x-ray exam, called a CT Colonography. What to expect? A barium enema requires special preparation and it is important to carry out the instructions you are given, otherwise the procedure may not be carried out or give good enough results. The bowel must be clean and clear of faeces before the examination. Dietary instructions need to be followed, such as having clear fluids, then a prescriptive laxative must be taken and lastly enemas to clear out any remaining faeces. During the procedure, you will lie on your side upon an X-ray table. A well-lubricated tube is then gently inserted into the rectum. Barium and air then fills the colon. Air helps to keep a good flow of barium around the colon. You will then be asked to move into a number of different positions, to ensure that the barium coats all the surfaces of the bowel, which means achieving a good picture. X-rays will then be taken; holding of the breath for a number of seconds and keeping still is required during this. Sometimes intravenous medication is given to help relax the patient. This can also help with some of the discomfort from the procedure. This examination is not a comfortable one; most people have a feeling of fullness of the bowel during the procedure, lower abdominal cramping and the urge to pass wind or a bowel motion. Knowing what to expect beforehand, will make the procedure easier to cope with.

A barium enema is an X-ray procedure to examine the lower part of the gastrointestinal tract (large bowel). Barium is a thick white chalky substance that shows up on an X-ray.  Barium moves quickly through the gastrointestinal tract and is not easily absorbed by the body. This procedure allows a clear picture of the outline of the bowel and shows up any abnormalities.
The test takes around 45 minutes. Barium enemas are rarely done these days because they have been replaced by another x-ray exam, called a CT Colonography.
 
What to expect?
A barium enema requires special preparation and it is important to carry out the instructions you are given, otherwise the procedure may not be carried out or give good enough results. The bowel must be clean and clear of faeces before the examination.  Dietary instructions need to be followed, such as having clear fluids, then a prescriptive laxative must be taken and lastly enemas to clear out any remaining faeces.
During the procedure, you will lie on your side upon an X-ray table.  A well-lubricated tube is then gently inserted into the rectum.  Barium and air then fills the colon.  Air helps to keep a good flow of barium around the colon. You will then be asked to move into a number of different positions, to ensure that the barium coats all the surfaces of the bowel, which means achieving a good picture. X-rays will then be taken; holding of the breath for a number of seconds and keeping still is required during this.
Sometimes intravenous medication is given to help relax the patient.  This can also help with some of the discomfort from the procedure.
This examination is not a comfortable one; most people have a feeling of fullness of the bowel during the procedure, lower abdominal cramping and the urge to pass wind or a bowel motion.  Knowing what to expect beforehand, will make the procedure easier to cope with.
Mammography

A mammogram is a special type of x-ray used only for the breast. Mammography can be used either to look for very early breast cancer in women without breast symptoms (screening) or to examine women who do have breast symptoms (diagnostic). What to expect? You will need to undress from the waist up. One of your breasts will be positioned between two plastic plates which will flatten the breast slightly. Most women find that this is a bit uncomfortable, but not painful. Generally two x-rays are taken of each breast. It is also useful to compare the results with earlier examinations and you should take any previous mammography results with you.

A mammogram is a special type of x-ray used only for the breast. Mammography can be used either to look for very early breast cancer in women without breast symptoms (screening) or to examine women who do have breast symptoms (diagnostic).
 
What to expect?
You will need to undress from the waist up.  One of your breasts will be positioned between two plastic plates which will flatten the breast slightly. Most women find that this is a bit uncomfortable, but not painful. Generally two x-rays are taken of each breast. It is also useful to compare the results with earlier examinations and you should take any previous mammography results with you.
DEXA Bone Densitometry (refer to Endocrinology ADHB - not done by Radiology ADHB)

DEXA (which stands for dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) scanning uses special x-rays to measure the density of your bones. The density of your bones will show how strong they are. The exposure to x-rays is very low and is similar to what you would receive on a long distance plane flight. What to expect? You will lie very still on a padded table for 5-10 minutes while the arm of the machine passes over the area to be measured (usually the lower spine and hip, although the forearm can also be measured). This is quite painless. You can remain in your normal clothing, although you may have to take off anything with large buttons, buckles or metal zips.

DEXA (which stands for dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) scanning uses special x-rays to measure the density of your bones. The density of your bones will show how strong they are. The exposure to x-rays is very low and is similar to what you would receive on a long distance plane flight.
 
What to expect?
You will lie very still on a padded table for 5-10 minutes while the arm of the machine passes over the area to be measured (usually the lower spine and hip, although the forearm can also be measured). This is quite painless.
You can remain in your normal clothing, although you may have to take off anything with large buttons, buckles or metal zips.

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Parking

Parking is difficult and often all the parking spaces are taken. You will have to pay a fee to park your car. Please consider taking a bus to Greenlane Hospital Radiology Department. Please visit Auckland Transport to plan your journey.

Contact Details

Auckland City Hospital

Central Auckland

7:30 AM to 5:00 PM.

  • Patient enquiries

    (09) 375 4300

  • Known extension/pager

    (09) 307 4949

  • Acute Referrals Service

    (09) 375 7030, Ext: 24048 

  • Emergency Department

    (09) 367 0000, open 24 hours / 7 days

  • Outpatient appointments & surgical booking enquiries

    (09) 638 0400 / scheduling@adhb.govt.nz 

Mental Health Services

  • 24 Hour Crisis Line

    0800 800717

  • GP / External Specialist Help Desk

    (09) 307 2800

2 Park Road
Grafton
Auckland 1023

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Street Address

2 Park Road
Grafton
Auckland 1023

Postal Address

Private Bag 92 024
Auckland Mail Centre
Auckland 1142

Greenlane Clinical Centre

Central Auckland

7:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

More details…

Starship Child Health, Central Auckland

Central Auckland

8:30 AM to 3:30 PM.

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This page was last updated at 11:51AM on January 15, 2024. This information is reviewed and edited by Radiology | Auckland | Te Toka Tumai | Te Whatu Ora.