How Do You Scan For Poor Gut Health?
Poor gut health can have many different causes. A diagnostic medical scan could reveal what is affecting your gut health. Your “gut” refers to your stomach, throat, esophagus, small intestine, large intestine, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. Your gastrointestinal tract contains certain bacteria that help process food and eliminate waste. When these bacteria levels change, gut health changes––for better or worse. Your gut health can impact your overall health, including your mental health, immune system health, and cardiac health.
Correcting gut health looks different for every person. It starts with diagnosing the problem, usually revealed through a medical imaging study, like an MRI, CT, or endoscopic scan. Once you have a diagnosis, you will be able to treat the cause of your poor gut health. For some, a simple diet and lifestyle change can do the trick. For others, continued monitoring and medication might be needed.
What Are The Symptoms Of Poor Gut Health?
The cause of poor gut health could come from high stress, too little sleep, eating too many processed or high-sugar foods, or taking antibiotics too frequently. You may be experiencing poor gut health if you have any of the following:
- Upset stomach
- unintentional weight fluctuations
- constant fatigue
- skin irritation
- autoimmune issues
- food intolerance
Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and they will help you get more information or get you set up with a specialist. Blood tests can show the cause of poor gut health by measuring levels of antibodies and immune activation. However, some gut-health problems require more information in order to be diagnosed. Your doctor may recommend a medical imaging study to confirm their diagnosis. Your gut health greatly impacts your overall health––by fixing the root problem, your overall health could improve.
What Studies Help Identify Poor Gut Health?
A gastroenterologist will usually recommend less invasive, medical imaging studies to start the search for the source of gastrointestinal distress. An abdominal CT, abdominal ultrasound, prostate MRI, upper GI series, and virtual colonoscopy are among the preferred medical imaging studies.
An MRI picks up significantly more detail than a CT scan, especially regarding prostate, uterine, and certain liver cancers. Despite the increased detail of an MRI, doctors have found that using CT scans as the initial screening tool for abdominal gut health issues is the best course of treatment. A CT scan is less invasive than an endoscopy, but there are some details a CT scan could potentially miss. Your doctor may recommend a CT scan to assess the damage or situation first.
A CT scan alone cannot detect inflammation of the bowel, IBS, IBD, or ulcers on the stomach lining. An ultrasound scan (oftentimes an alternative to a CT scan) is also unable to detect those issues. If the cause of the abdominal pain or poor gut health cannot be found using a CT, a different scan like an endoscopy may be necessary.
If the cause of poor gut health is not certain, your doctor will likely recommend an endoscopic technique for diagnosis, which could include a sigmoidoscopy, traditional colonoscopy, or biopsy. If you are suffering from gut-health problems, talk to your doctor about which studies they think you need. Medical imaging can be expensive but is more affordable than more invasive studies. There are a few ways to manage the costs as well. Go to an independent radiology center rather than the hospital, where costs are significantly lower.
How Do I Prepare For An Abdominal Imaging Study?
Don’t do anything out of the ordinary before your abdominal imaging appointment. Regardless of what scan you are getting (CT, MRI, ultrasound, etc.), you should follow your doctor’s instructions when it comes to eating, drinking, showering, and preparing for your scan. In some cases, your doctor may ask you to fast for a few hours ahead of your scan. You may have to ingest some contrast solution in order to increase the differentiation between areas inside your abdomen. Try to arrive 15 minutes ahead of your scheduled appointment time. You may be asked to undress and put on a hospital gown for your appointment. Try not to wear any jewelry, self-care products, or cosmetics.
Talk to your doctor if you are having any symptoms consistent with poor gut health. In most cases, insurance will cover GI diagnostic tests and scans. If the imaging test has been requested by your doctor and is being used to diagnose a certain condition. Your regular doctor should be able to offer you some gut health solutions, but they may also recommend you see a gastroenterologist or a GI specialist.
At South Jersey Radiology, our subspecialized radiologists can deliver the help you need to relieve any gastrointestinal conditions. If your doctor has recommended that you get an abdominal or gastrointestinal scan, we are ready to accommodate you with costs up to 60% less than hospital-based imaging centers. Reach out to one of our following locations below to schedule your appointment:
- Route 73 Office – Voorhees Township, NJ
- Haddonfield Office – Haddonfield, NJ
- Greentree Office – Marlton, NJ
- Washington Township Office – Sewell, NJ
- Turnersville Office – Turnersville, NJ
- Voorhees Office – Voorhees Township, NJ
- West Deptford Office – West Deptford, NJ
Learn more about the board-certified, subspecialized radiologists who read and interpret studies at SJRA, here.
Poor gut health can manifest in various symptoms, including upset stomach, gas, bloating, constipation, heartburn, inflammation, unintentional weight fluctuations, constant fatigue, skin irritation, autoimmune issues, and food intolerance. These symptoms can be caused by factors such as high stress, inadequate sleep, consuming processed or high-sugar foods, or frequent antibiotic use. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it's essential to discuss them with your doctor, who can provide further information and help you find a specialist if needed.
Gastroenterologists typically recommend less invasive medical imaging studies to investigate gastrointestinal distress and identify the source of the problem. These studies may include abdominal CT, abdominal ultrasound, prostate MRI, upper GI fluoroscopy, and virtual colonoscopy. While an MRI offers detailed information, CT scans are often preferred as the initial screening tool for abdominal gut health issues due to their effectiveness and lower invasiveness. CT scans can assess the damage and provide valuable insights. However, certain issues like bowel inflammation, IBS, IBD, or ulcers on the stomach lining may require additional scans, such as endoscopy techniques like sigmoidoscopy, traditional colonoscopy, or biopsy.
Follow your doctor's instructions regarding preparation for your abdominal imaging appointment, regardless of the type of scan (CT, MRI, ultrasound, etc.) you will undergo. In some cases, fasting for a few hours may be required, and you may need to ingest a contrast solution to enhance differentiation within your abdomen. Arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time, and be prepared to undress and wear a hospital gown, avoiding jewelry, self-care products, and cosmetics. It's important to talk to your doctor if you experience symptoms consistent with poor gut health. In most cases, insurance covers gastrointestinal diagnostic tests and scans when they are recommended by your doctor for a diagnosis.
To schedule an abdominal or gastrointestinal scan, reach out to any of our convenient office locations below: