Imaging Services (Radiology/Nuclear Medicine)
Imaging Services combines the latest techniques for non-invasive imaging studies with compassionate patient care. Our radiologists are board certified and hold academic appointments at Harvard Medical School. Our staff is devoted to making our patients' radiology experience as comfortable as possible.
About this Program
Whether you're coming for your first diagnostic scan or are receiving image-guided therapy, the staff in our Imaging Services department is devoted to making your medical imaging experience as comfortable as possible.
The Department of Imaging at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center combines the latest imaging techniques with state-of-the-art scanning equipment and expert staff. Our radiologists, technologists, and nurses are experienced in performing and reading cancer-related imaging studies. They're also compassionate and understanding, because they know how intimidating some of the testing and technology can be.
We aim to make your imaging experience a positive one. We do our best to ensure that you don't feel rushed into or out of our facility, that you feel safe, and that all of your questions and needs are given full attention. We work hard to keep to schedule and minimize your waiting time.
The Department of Imaging is a world-class cancer imaging center of excellence, led by a team of cancer imaging specialists who deliver exceptional cancer imaging expertise for patients, providers, and investigators through our focused services, personalized care, and innovation using state-of-the-art technology.
Dana-Farber-based radiologists use a disease-centric approach, which includes whole-body and multi-modality interpretations that are very valuable to our clinicians. We adhere to the highest safety and quality standards and operate under cost-effective and efficient practices. Clinical services include:
- Digital radiography
- Nuclear medicine
- Therapy with unsealed sources
- Nurse-to-draw laboratory specimen collection/IV/central line access
- Consultation services
Some of these services are also provided throughout the Dana-Farber network, including satellite sites and community-based services in the Greater Boston area with our Mammography Van and the breast imaging services at Whittier Street Health Center.
Our physics, technical, and medical experts routinely collaborate in a multidisciplinary "Triad" committee to optimize clinical, quality, and safety standards, in addition to developing multimodality approaches and protocols.
Treatment Approach and Services
We are committed to providing personalized, compassionate care. Our receptionists are knowledgeable about our imaging procedures, and our technologists and nurses can answer your questions and guide you through your appointments with care and respect.
Our facilities are designed with comfort and easy accessibility in mind. We have a separate waiting area for gowned patients and a private mammography suite that provides patients with their own dressing rooms and waiting room. If you need anything, please ask our staff.
Most routine imaging can be scheduled within two days; emergency studies can be scheduled the same day.
Among the services we offer:
- Computed Tomography (CT)
Computed Tomography uses low energy X-rays to produce a series of highly detailed, cross-sectional images of your body. A typical CT examination lasts about 20 minutes, during which time several images will be taken.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Magnetic resonance imaging uses a strong magnetic field and radiofrequency pulses to produce a series of highly detailed, cross-sectional images of your body. A typical MRI examination lasts about 45 minutes, during which time several images will be taken.
Mammography uses low energy X-rays to produce images of your breast tissue. These images are used to screen for breast cancer or to evaluate symptoms (e.g., lumps, thickening, etc). A typical mammogram lasts about 20 minutes, during which time several images may be taken.
- Nuclear Medicine (including PET/CT)
Nuclear medicine uses radioactive tracers (radiopharmaceuticals) to produce images of your body. These images demonstrate how your organs and tissues are functioning. A typical nuclear medicine examination is obtained with either a single photon emission tomography (SPECT) scanner or a positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) scanner and may last from 45 to 90 minutes.
- Radiography (X-ray)
Radiography is one of the oldest forms of imaging examinations, and is still the most frequently used. This imaging technique uses low energy X-rays to produce an image of your organs and tissues. A typical X-ray examination lasts about 15 minutes per each area of interest, during which time several images may be taken.
- Ultrasound (also called sonography or ultrasonography)
Ultrasound is an imaging examination that uses the energy of high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of your organs and tissues. Your tissues will reflect, absorb, and refract the waves differently, and these "echoes" are collected and transformed into an image. A standard ultrasound examination may last up to 60 minutes, during which several images may be taken.
As part of our ongoing research program, imaging physicians and scientists work together with medical oncologists and investigators to develop and conduct clinical research.
Many patients will have the opportunity to join a clinical trial as one of their treatment options. Imaging staff often participate in clinical research protocols, assisting with the visualization and measurement of disease and determining response to treatment. This research helps identify and establish the best treatments for current and future patients.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to do anything to prepare for my test?
Your preparation for an imaging appointment will depend on the type of exam you're having. For many studies, no special preparation is required. For some, however, you may be asked to avoid eating solid foods for several hours before the examination begins.
On the day of your appointment, you may also be asked to avoid using lotions, creams, powders, perfumes, and underarm deodorant, as these items may contain ingredients that interfere with the quality of the examination.
Our staff will review all examination preparation instructions with you before your appointment. For specific preparation guidance, please call 617-632-4444.
What should I expect on the day of my imaging examination?
On the day of your appointment, you may need to complete a history form before being taken into the imaging room. Once in the imaging room, you may be asked to remove jewelry or other items and to change into a hospital gown.
Depending on the type of imaging test, the technologist may insert an intravenous catheter to administer a contrast material, so that certain organs and tissues show up more clearly on the images.
The technologist will explain the procedure to you and will help you get into the correct position for the images. After the examination, a radiologist will review and interpret the images, and the report will be sent to your physician.
How do I get the results of my test?
Your physician will receive a formal report from the radiologist who performs your procedure. Patients having mammograms will receive a written report on their procedure at the time of their visit.
For further information, please contact your physician or call Imaging Services at 617-632-4444.
Your experienced care team is dedicated to providing the highest quality care. We work closely with your doctors to ensure that your care plan offers the best possible outcomes.
Annick D. Van den Abbeele, MD
Chief, Department of Imaging
Founding Director, Center for Biomedical Imaging in Oncology
Associate Professor of Radiology
Greg LeFever, CNMT, RT(N)(R)
Administrative Director, Department of Imaging Services
See a complete list of the Department of Imaging team.
Contact Information and Locations
We want you to feel comfortable with your treatment. If you have any questions, please call the appropriate number.
Schedule an appointment: 617-632-4444
Imaging reception: 617-632-3215
Dana-Farber's Mammography Van: 617-632-1974
- Breast imaging, CT, MRI, ultrasonography, radiography, and the Image Library are located in the Dana Building, floor L1 (one floor below the lobby level)
- Nuclear Medicine and PET-CT imaging are located in the Dana Building, floor L2 (two floors below the lobby level)