Diagnostic Imaging

Access to diagnostic imaging (DI) services is critical to the diagnosis and treatment of patients as it significantly impacts a patient’s health outcomes:

  • Early diagnosis and identification of infections and disease prevents further health deterioration 
  • Patients are able to receive the most appropriate treatment needed based on scan results, and therefore can get well sooner 
  • Patients experience improved quality of life

The LHIN’s goals in integrating DI services are to:

  • Ensure timely access to high quality DI services;
  • Improve quality of life and treatment as a result of receiving DI services; and, 
  • Ensure consistent and standardized delivery of high quality, integrated DI services across the LHIN at a good value. 

Diagnostic Imaging Steering Committee

The LHIN facilitates partnerships among hospitals currently providing diagnostic imaging services. The HNHB LHIN Diagnostic Imaging Steering Committee is composed of leaders from all LHIN hospitals that provide Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography (CT) services:

  • Hamilton Health Sciences 
  • Niagara Health System 
  • St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton 
  • Brant Community Healthcare System 
  • Joseph Brant Hospital 
  • Norfolk General Hospital 

The Diagnostic Imaging Steering Committee works collaboratively to achieve an integrated Diagnostic Imaging System to provide consistent and standardized quality and care across all hospital sites, to best serve patients in the LHIN.

The Diagnostic Imaging Steering Committee strives to achieve an integrated diagnostic imaging program. This program aims to enhance the quality of care, and access to DI services by improving standardization and reducing variation across hospital sites. 

Diagnostic Imaging Program goals include: 

  • Establish lead organizations and team members to participate in a LHIN-wide DI program 
  • Implement standardized rapid assessment protocols for MRI across the LHIN 
  • Implement a LHIN-wide Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) for MRI and CT scans 
  • Maximize opportunities for inter-LHIN coordination and strategic planning 
  • Identify and assess opportunities for improvements for pediatric MRI access 
  • Identify and assess the opportunity for centralized access to low priority MRI and CT scans 
  • Oversee strategies to achieve LHIN-wide wait time targets for MRI and CT scans

Learn More about Diagnostic Imaging

Diagnostic Imaging uses technology to create images of internal body parts and organs hidden by the skin and bones. These images are used to diagnose and treat injury or disease in order to improve health outcomes for patients. As hospitals consistently strive for excellent patient care, scans are only used when medically necessary, to reduce any unnecessary risks for patients. Learn more about this at Choosing Wisely Canada.

Diagnostic Imaging teams consist of experienced physicians and technologists who work collaboratively to support patient diagnosis and treatment by providing high quality imaging tests and treatments in a caring, safe and efficient environment.

While MRI and CT scans are two major types of imaging scans there are many scans that are used to image a person’s body.

Diagnostic Imaging scans include: 

  • CT: Radiation is used to create cross section images (like slices in a loaf of bread) of internal body parts, like bones, soft tissues and blood vessels, all at the same time. This test usually takes about five minutes to complete and is widely used to support emergency services needed for patients. CT scans help:
    • diagnose muscle and bone injuries, like tumors and fractures; 
    • pinpoint internal tumors, blood clots or infections; 
    • assist with surgery, radiation therapy and biopsies (samples taken from the body);
    • find and monitor conditions like cancer, heart disease, lung and liver diseases; and, 
    • detect internal injuries and bleeding, like stroke.
  • MRI: Magnetic fields and radio waves are used to create cross section images (like slices in a loaf of bread) of the organs and tissues within your body. MRI scanners can also be used to produce three-dimensional images that may be viewed from many different angles. MRI is the most frequently used imaging test of the brain and spinal cord and can take from 30 minutes to more than an hour to complete. MRI scans help diagnose: 
    • aneurysms; 
    • disorders of the eye and inner ear; 
    • multiple sclerosis; 
    • spinal cord injuries; and, 
    • tumors.
  • Digital Mammography: Mammograms work by sending X-rays through the breast tissue to obtain images that can be analyzed for differences (abnormalities) and assessed for changes.   
  • Fluoroscopy: An X-ray procedure that displays internal organs in motion, as they would normally move.
  • Bone Densitometry (DXA): Bone density tests identify whether a person is at risk of breaking bones due to osteoporosis, a disease that causes weak bones, before it happens. X-rays are used to measure the calcium and minerals in bones. 
  • Nuclear Medicine: Specialty tests using radioactive isotopes injected into the body for diagnosis and treatment. The radiation the isotopes give off is detected by a scanner and recorded to show the presence, size, and shape of abnormalities in various organs. 
  • Ultrasound: High-frequency sound waves used to produce images of structures within your body. 

For all types of diagnostic imaging scans, a skilled radiologist interprets the scan and reports it to the patient’s doctor to help with diagnosis and treatment.

Tens of thousands of MRI and CT tests are completed each year in the HNHB LHIN.