Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
General Questions Regarding Your Exam
- How do I schedule an appointment?
- How do I obtain a copy of my exam images or report?
- When should I arrive for my appointment?
- What do I need to do to prepare for my exam?
General Questions about the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center
- Why Choose the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center?
- What equipment do you have?
- What can you help diagnose?
- Do I need a prescription from my doctor before I can see a Cedars-Sinai imaging physician?
- Is a radiologist a physician?
- How many imaging physicians do you have?
- What is a subspecialist?
- What sort of imaging specialists does the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center have?
- What's the difference between a general radiologist and a subspecialist?
- Is the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center a part of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center?
Getting to the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center
General Imaging Questions
- What is an X-ray?
- What is a fluoroscope?
- What is a CT scan?
- What is an ultrasound?
- What is an MRI?
- What is nuclear medicine, nuclear cardiology or a PET scan?
How do I schedule an appointment at the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center?
Almost all of our procedures require a prescription from a referring physician. Your physician will order an imaging procedure for you and will fax that order to us. Alternatively, your doctor might give you the paper copy. You can then call us to schedule an appointment at (310) 423-8000 (option 1).
The one exception to the prescription requirement is the coronary calcium scan, which measures the level of calcium in your arteries. This is considered a self-referred procedure and does not require a physician's referral.
For a copy of your report or films, please call (310) 423-8000 (option 2). We offer free copies of your images on a PC-compatible CD-Rom, or you can obtain printed films for $15 per page.
If you are requesting your films for a physician to examine, please have the name of that physician when you call. It should be the physician who will be looking at the films, and not necessarily your referring physician. For example, your primary care doctor might have referred you to a specialist who needs to see your images. It is the name of the specialist which is needed, not the name of your primary care physician.
When we give you an appointment time, this includes the time required for registration. There is no need to arrive before your scheduled time. Different procedures require different amounts of time beforehand. In addition, some require lab tests which might need to be performed before your scan (most of these can be done in advance and need not be done on the day of your exam).
If you were not given or have misplaced your arrival-time information, please call (310) 423-8000.
Different procedures require different preparations. Some require no preparation, while others may require a specific diet or an alteration to your medications. You should consult your referring physician about what is needed before your exam. (Never make a change to your medications unless instructed to do so by your physician.) If you have any questions, please call (310) 423-8000.
Some exams also require lab tests to be done in advance. Your doctor should inform you of these and see that they are performed in advance of the day of your scan.
We do recommend that you wear comfortable clothing which can be removed easily in case your procedure requires you to change into a hospital gown. Though we do not anticipate a long waiting period before your exam, we do recommend that you bring a favorite book, magazine or music player to help you pass the time.
More information on exams can be at at Preparing For Your Exam.
We work hard to keep on top of the latest developments in imaging technology. We have the latest imaging equipment, some of it right on the cutting edge. In some cases we have the only equipment of its kind in Southern California. We have fluoroscopes, CT or CAT scanners, MRIs, ultrasound equipment and PET scanners - including a state-of-the-art "open" PET/CT combination scanner that was designed with patient comfort in mind and a dual-source 64-slice CT scanner.
In addition to our high-tech imaging machines, we are also on the cutting edge of image storage. Instead of printing off film, we use an electronic storage system. This means that anyone within the imaging system who has the authorization to do so, can access the images at any time; it means that different physicians can look at images simultaneously, and it means that there is less of a chance that images might get lost or misfiled.
We have the technology and expertise to diagnose problems anywhere in your body. We have:
- Neuroradiologists who specialize in the images of the brain, spine and nerves
- Imaging cardiologists who specialize in the heart
- Specialists in blood flow and vascular problems
- Gastrointestinal radiologists for the digestive tract
- Mammography specialists
- Musculoskeletal specialists for joint, muscle or tendon problems
- Interventional radiologists who can perform procedures such as angiograms and embolizations
- Specialists who focus on the special challenges of imaging children
In most cases, yes. You need to see your primary care physician or specialist for a prescription before you can make an appointment. The only exception is the coronary calcium scan.
Yes. A radiologist is a physician who has chosen to specialize in imaging (radiology is a specialty in the same way that orthopedics is a specialty). After attending medical school, radiologists spend several years in a residency training program studying images and imaging technologies. Some of our Cedars-Sinai radiologists have gone beyond their residency to further study in a particular sub-field of radiology. Radiologists must also pass board examinations and take classes every year to keep up to date on current discoveries in medicine. In addition to our board-certified radiologists, we have board-certified cardiologists and nuclear medicine specialists who specialize in medical imaging.
We have a team of 40 imaging physicians, including radiologists, cardiologists and nuclear medicine specialists. We also have a large team of registered nurses and highly trained technologists who assist with patients and with the imaging machines.
A subspecialist is an imaging physician who has specialized in a particular imaging technology (such as a CAT scan or an ultrasound) or on a particular part of the body (such as cardiac or brain scans). The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center has a unique blend of board-certified radiologists, cardiologists and nuclear medicine specialists. We have more than 40 imaging physicians, each dedicated to a particular imaging specialty.
We have a variety of imaging specialists. We have those that specialize on a particular imaging technology, such as:
- CT/cross-sectional imaging (also known as a CAT scan)
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
- Nuclear medicine scans, such as PET (positron emissions tomography)
- Ultrasound imaging
We also have imaging physicians who specialize in a particular part of the body, such as:
- Cardiac imaging, including board-certified cardiologists
- Gastrointestinal imaging
- Head and neck imaging
- Interventional and vascular imaging
- Musculoskeletal imaging
- Nuclear cardiology
- Nuclear medicine imaging
- Pediatric radiology
A general radiologist will split his or her time up among the different types of images. They could be reading a CT scan one minute and an MRI the next, or jump from looking at someone's knee to looking at someone else's brain.
A subspecialist, on the other hand, will focus only on one type of scan or part of the body. For example, they might read only CT scans or focus only on images of the heart. By subspecializing, an imaging physician will gain a deep knowledge of their area of diagnostic imaging - far deeper than a generalist can have.
To use an analogy: if you needed eye surgery, would you want your primary care physician to do it, or would you want a highly trained eye surgeon to do it? The primary care physician might be extremely good at what they do, but the eye surgeon is the person to go to for what they do best.
At the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, you can get the best imaging physician for your particular needs, whether you are suffering from back pain, memory loss, a heart condition or any other problem.
Yes. Unlike stand-alone imaging centers, the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center is a part of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. In addition to our outpatient work, we also do the inpatient imaging for the Medical Center. The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center is located on the main Cedars-Sinai campus, near the corner of Beverly and San Vicente Boulevards. The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center is connected to the North Tower of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Where is the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center?
The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center is located on the northwest corner of San Vicente Boulevard and Gracie Allen Drive (also known as Alden Drive), just off of Beverly Boulevard. There is a large metal sculpture in the shape of the number "8" in front of the center.
For a map of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center click here (pdf). Map includes the locations of:
- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Campus
- The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center
- Medical Office Tower satellite office
- Marcia Israel Mammography Center satellite office
- Mark Goodson Building (444 San Vicente Blvd.) satellite office
We offer valet parking for imaging patients only. Valet service is directly in front of the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center. The price is $4.00 with partial-validation. Validation is available for patients at the registration desk inside the center. We apologize, but family members, friends or visitors who come in a separate vehicle than the patient, will not have their valet parking validated.
If you are a patient and wish to self-park or if you are a visitor, you can park in any public lot. The imaging center has a FREE dedicated shuttle service that runs every few minutes from lot P4 to bring patients directly to the front of the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center. Parking in lot P4 or any other Cedars-Sinai lot costs patients $4.00 with partial-validation. Validation for patients is available at the registration desk inside the center. Family members, friends and visitors who come in a separate vehicle will need to pay the full fee for parking.
Yes. There is a drop-off zone with wheelchair access in front of the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center and a ramp to our front door.
An X-ray uses a high-energy light wave and a photographic plate to take a picture of a body. An X-ray is particularly good at showing bones and some organs (such as the lungs).
A fluoroscope is a type of X-ray machine that takes multiple pictures - like a movie. This allows an imaging physician to see how your body acts when in motion or during a procedure. Like an X-ray, a fluoroscope is particularly good at showing bones and some organs.
A CT (computed tomography) or CAT scan uses X-ray technology and sophisticated computers to create highly detailed pictures of a body. It is good at seeing both hard structures (such as bone) and at seeing soft tissues (such as the liver or lungs). A CT is particularly good at detecting tumors, blood clots and problems with blood vessels.
Ultrasound uses sound waves to see inside a body. It is exactly like sonar used by ships to see objects in the water. Sound waves go into the body and bounce off the tissue and bone. A computer then interprets the echoes and produces an image of the body. Ultrasound is often used for imaging internal organs and blood vessels.
An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses a magnetic field to see inside a body. It is particularly good at showing soft tissue. It is used to examine the structures around bones and joints and at examining various organs, such as the heart.
Though the technical workings of an MRI machine are highly complex, the science it is based on is fairly straight forward. If water molecules are placed in a magnetic field, they will align with that field in exactly the same way that a compass needle aligns with the Earth's north pole. This alignment can be detected by the MRI scanner. The MRI uses this information to create pictures of the body, showing areas of high or low water content. For example, the walls of an artery will appear different from the blood flowing through it because the water content of the two things is different. The scanner can convert these differences into images.
What is nuclear medicine, nuclear cardiology or a PET scan?
Nuclear medicine or nuclear cardiology scans (for example, positron emission tomography or PET) use a radioactive isotope to trace the activity or inactivity of the cells in a body. It can detect damaged or nonfunctioning areas and is particularly good at showing the brain, at examining cancer cell activity or showing damaged parts of organs (such as the heart).