Having just joined the team in February, Radiologist Dr. Brandon Nichols says he’s excited about the upcoming changes to the Radiology Department at Alabama Medical Group. With added imaging and same-day services on the horizon, AMG will now offer CT, MRI, and mammography services to its patients — thus making it one of the most advanced imaging centers in all of Mobile.
The addition of advanced imaging services at AMG will be revolutionary for the care of its patients — particularly in cases where same-day imaging could be provided, Dr. Nichols shares. “A few weeks ago, for example, we had a 36-year-old lady who came in to see her primary care physician due to blood in her urine,” Dr. Nichols details. “After examining her, the physician ordered some lab work that confirmed blood in her urine. A renal ultrasound was then ordered and performed by a technologist/sonographer where she saw a mass. The sonographer then sent images to me, and I reviewed them along with the lab work and clinical history. I issued a report, recommended a follow-up CT, and called the primary care physician. The patient then went back to her primary care physician to discuss what was seen on her scan. She was then scheduled for a follow-up CT in three to five days, and an appointment with a urologist a week after that.” Talk about a long process!
“With the addition of our advanced imaging to the AMG clinic, we likely would have been able to do her CT the same day she was there and had her follow-up with the urologist even sooner,” Dr. Nichols says. “This provides a more efficient path to diagnosis while saving our patient time, money, and stress. This is the driving force behind adding advanced imaging at AMG.” But what does the addition of each service entail? “MRI offers the best evaluation of the brain, spine, and joints, along with many other uses including evaluation of masses,” Dr. Nichols explains. “The added advantage is that it does all of this without using radiation. Our MRI is also a wide/open bore magnet, which will greatly benefit any patients with claustrophobia.” CT is a faster answer to many clinical diagnoses compared to MRI, Dr. Nichols adds, as the scan time typically takes less than 30 seconds. “It often is used to further evaluate any abnormality seen on radiographs or ultrasound,” he details. “Additionally, it is the first line test to look for many disease processes such as kidney stones, appendicitis, diverticulitis, and neuro-logic deficits. As this is a broadly used modality, the addition of CT to our clinic will provide benefits to all of our patients.”
As for the addition of mammography services at AMG? “Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women with 250,000 new cases every year,” Dr. Nichols shares. “However, the mortality rate in America has decreased 41 percent in the past 30 years. A major reason for this improvement is early detection due to screening mammography.” Dr. Nichols says it is recommended that women begin screening at age 40, having mammograms performed annually from that point forward. “We will offer these screening services, and in addition to receiving results from their physician, patients will also receive results mailed to them at home, as well as a reminder letter for when it is time to come back in for their next mammogram,” he confirms.
At the end of the day, Dr. Nichols says he just wants his patients to be comfortable. “I wish patients knew that it is normal to be anxious,” he shares. “I often have patients apologize for being nervous when they come in for a procedure, but I like to tell them, ‘It’s normal to be nervous, and as long as I’m not nervous we’ll be just fine.’ That usually elicits a little chuckle and a deep breath that I hope provides a little comfort during a stressful day in the life of a patient.”