Did you know? Medicare gives you access to a variety of preventive tests and screenings, most at no cost to you. For example, Medicare covers screenings for diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, and more.

If you have Original Medicare (Part A and/or Part B), sign in to your MyMedicare.gov account to see your personalized calendar of current and upcoming preventive services. Don’t have an account yet? Sign up for free at MyMedicare.gov.

If you’re in a Medicare Advantage (MA) Plan, contact your plan for a list of covered preventive services. MA Plans must cover all the same preventive services as Original Medicare, and some may offer additional services.

Preventive care can prevent you from getting sick — and detect health problems early, when treatment works best. Take advantage of these services as a proactive step in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

An ultrasound of the abdominal aorta is a non-invasive, painless test that uses high-frequency sound waves to image the "aorta," the main blood vessel leading away from the heart.

When the walls of the abdominal aorta become weak, they may balloon outward If the aorta reaches over 3 centimeters in diameter, it is then called an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). As the aneurysm gets larger, the risk of rupture increases.

Ultrasound imaging of the aorta is useful for measuring its size to screen for AAA. Screening is particularly recommended for men over the age of 60 who have ever smoked and for anyone with a family history of AAA. In addition to screening, ultrasound is also a useful tool after the diagnosis of AAA to monitor its size on a regular basis to see if it needs to be repaired.

A cardiac CT scan for coronary calcium is a non-invasive way of obtaining information about the presence, location and extent of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries—the vessels that supply oxygen-containing blood to the heart muscle. Calcified plaque results when there is a build-up of fat and other substances under the inner layer of the artery. This material can calcify which signals the presence of atherosclerosis, a disease of the vessel wall, also called coronary artery disease (CAD). People with this disease have an increased risk for heart attacks. In addition, over time, progression of plaque build up (CAD) can narrow the arteries or even close off blood flow to the heart. The result may be chest pain, sometimes called "angina," or a heart attack.

The goal of cardiac CT scan for calcium scoring is to determine if CAD is present and to what extent, even if there are no symptoms. It is a screening study that may be recommended by a physician for patients with risk factors for CAD but no clinical symptoms.

The major risk factors for CAD are:

  • high blood cholesterol levels
  • family history of heart attacks
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • cigarette smoking
  • overweight or obese
  • physical inactivity

A radiologist, who is a physician with special skills and expertise in supervising and interpreting radiology examinations, will analyze the images and send an official report to your primary care physician or physician who referred you for the exam, who will discuss the results with you.

A negative cardiac CT scan for calcium scoring shows no calcification within the coronary arteries. This suggests that CAD is absent or so minimal it cannot be seen by this technique. The chance of having a heart attack over the next two to five years is very low under these circumstances.

A positive test means that CAD is present, regardless of whether or not the patient is experiencing any symptoms. The amount of calcification—expressed as the calcium score—may help to predict the likelihood of a myocardial infarction (heart attack) in the coming years and helps your medical doctor or cardiologist decide whether the patient may need to take preventive medicine or undertake other measures such as diet and exercise to lower the risk for heart attack.

According to the CDC, 3.9 million adults have been diagnosed with liver disease. Many more live day to day unaware that they are in the early stages of the disease. The stages of liver disease include: inflammation, fibrosis, cirrhosis, liver cancer and ultimately, liver failure. If caught in the inflammation or early fibrosis stage, successful treatment can allow the liver to heal itself. However, with increasing fibrosis there is a higher risk that the liver will become too damaged to repair itself, leading to cirrhosis and potentially to liver failure or liver cancer. This makes advanced diagnostic tools extremely important for our radiologists.

Symptoms of liver disease:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Weight loss
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)

Liver disease is often preventable and can be a result of alcohol abuse or taking excessive quantities of medications. It can also result from illnesses and infections, including viral hepatitis and autoimmune or genetic diseases.

How Ultrasound Elastography Works

Ultrasound elastography is an easy and noninvasive way for our specialists to capture information about the liver that was not previously available. During the procedure, the patient will lie down on his/her back while the sonographer applies a series of painless sound wave pulses to the liver. These pulses subtly compress the liver, which then relaxes and generates shear waves—reactive sound waves that can be detected by the ultrasound probe. The speed of the shear waves is related to the elasticity or stiffness of the liver tissue. Normal tissue shows slower shear waves while diseased tissue progressively becomes stiffer and shows faster shear waves. Our radiologists measure the shear waves by ultrasound to determine how quickly they travel and assess the overall health of the liver.

This state-of-the-art hardware and software will not only allow for quicker scanning and higher quality images but also provide us with a new technique to allow earlier diagnosis of liver disease for our Low Country residents. For patients with liver disease, early diagnosis may prevent the development of a life-threatening condition.

A vascular screening is a check-up for your arteries and veins, also called your blood vessels. These appointments can help you find out if you have vascular disease.

Not all vascular conditions have symptoms, so it’s a good idea to make the time for a check-up to be sure that your blood vessels are healthy. Knowing if you have a health problem can help you treat it and enjoy your everyday activities with peace of mind.

Why Do I Need a Screening?

A screening can help you find out if you have signs of vascular disease, and if you are at risk for having it in the future. Early diagnosis and treatment can help you avoid dangerous, life-threatening problems.

It is a good idea to have a screening if you:

  • Are 60 or older
  • Have diabetes
  • Smoke
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have a family history of cardiovascular disease or aortic aneurysm

During a vascular screening, you will undergo a set of painless tests that check your blood vessels to judge if they are healthy, or if they have signs of disease. Vascular screenings are provided by specially trained technicians, also called technologists, under the direction of our radiologists.

Abdominal ultrasound

An abdominal ultrasound checks for abdominal aortic aneurysm, a weak, bulging spot in the largest artery in your abdomen. During this test, you lie flat on your back and have images and measurements of your abdominal aorta taken through ultrasound.

If left untreated, an aneurysm can burst, causing life-threatening internal bleeding.

Carotid artery ultrasound

A carotid artery ultrasound checks the arteries in your neck, which carry blood to your brain. During this test, you lay flat on your back and have images of your carotid arteries taken through ultrasound. This test also checks how quickly your blood flows through your carotid arteries to see if they are narrowed.

If left untreated, blocked carotid arteries can cause a stroke.

Ankle-brachial index (ABI)

An ankle-brachial index (ABI) test checks if you have signs of peripheral artery disease, or PAD. During this test, your blood pressure is measured in both of your arms and both of your ankles, then compared. If your blood pressure is lower in your ankles than in your arms, you may have PAD, or blockages in the arteries in your limbs and pelvis.

If left untreated, PAD can cause pain, difficulty walking, and serious damage that may lead to limb loss.

Virtual colonoscopy is a procedure that is done to look for small polyps or other growths inside your colon. Polyps that grow on the inside lining of the colon may turn into colon cancer. The American Cancer Society advises that most men and women begin screening for colon cancer at age 50. If you have a family history of colon cancer or are at high risk for other reasons, you may need to have screening even earlier. Virtual colonoscopy every 5 years is 1 of several screening choices.

Virtual colonoscopy is also called CT colonography. CT stands for computed tomography. A CT scanner takes many X-rays of the colon that are processed by a computer. The computer puts all the X-rays together to create 3-D images of your colon and rectum. These images can then be looked at by your healthcare provider.

Virtual colonoscopy has some benefits over regular colonoscopy:

  • It is less uncomfortable and invasive. It usually does not need to include any pain medicine or anesthesia.
  • It takes less time.
  • It poses less risk of harming the large intestine.
  • It may be able to show areas of the large intestine that regular colonoscopy can't reach. This may be the case if part of the intestine is narrowed or blocked.
  • A virtual colonoscopy procedure may be beneficial for patients on blood thinning medications or who cannot tolerate anesthesia and who may not be candidates for a conventional colonoscopy.

If you are interested in CT Colonscopy, contact your doctor to see if it is the right test for you.

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