imaging exam results

Physicians use dozens of imaging tests to make appropriate diagnoses, yet patients don’t always understand why they were referred for the exam. In many cases, it is even beneficial for people to seek out an imaging test on their own.

Below we’ll highlight the two classifications of imaging, as well as provide helpful facts about the need for these exams.

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Screening Exam

A screening exam is an imaging test performed on a patient who is experiencing no current medical condition or symptoms. It is used to either confirm good health or detect an abnormality. Most of the time there are no concerns, however you may be referred for additional imaging tests if your physician wants to take a closer look at a specific area.

Example of screening exam

  • Annual mammogram to ensure no risk of breast abnormalities

Diagnostic Exam

A diagnostic exam is performed on a patient who is referred by a physician because they have a medical concern. Diagnostic imaging may also be necessary for those who have been called back following a screening exam to pinpoint a disease or area of concern.

Examples of diagnostic exams

  • X-ray to identify bone fractures
  • PET/CT scan to identify abnormal uptake of contrast
  • Obstetric ultrasound to ensure proper growth of a developing baby
  • Nuclear medicine to look at the skeleton and soft tissue to identify potential disease processes
  • Breast ultrasound to take a closer look at abnormal results discovered in a mammogram


Regardless of the test, patients should seek out facilities that are accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR) which ensures a high level of care and facilities that meet national standards with regards to equipment, quality control, and image quality. Specifically, at UPMC our services that are ACR-accredited include:

About Imaging Services

UPMC Imaging Services aims to provide the highest-quality scans possible for accurate diagnoses, helping your doctor create the best treatment plan. We have state-of-the-art equipment and technology for high-quality MRIs, CT scans, mammograms, x-rays, and more. Our expert radiologists work on site for fast, high-quality readings. We have over 100 UPMC Imaging locations across Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York, with convenient hours to make getting an image easier for you. Find a location near you.