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Scans - Types of imaging available

Imaging Unit

In our second article on the imaging suite at Benenden Hospital, we look at the different types of imaging available and what they’re used for.

We often hear about someone who is “going for a scan”. But what does it all mean, and what are the differences among the types of imaging provided in a modern imaging suite, like the one at Benenden Hospital?

We offer a range of private scans, including Computerised Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Our Imaging Department team performs thousands of scans every year, using modern technology to produce high quality diagnostic images, which can be accessed by clinicians within seconds of your examination.

Types of imaging available


Using a form of radiation that passes through soft objects but bounces back from harder ones, which is why they are commonly used to check for broken bones. Low-intensity x-rays can also be used to examine softer tissues, such as in mammograms or breast x-rays. Sometimes an x-ray will be combined with contrast agents, such as barium, which makes your organs more visible during examination.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI scan)

The body is more than 50 per cent water and the MRI scanner works by using a magnet that attracts hydrogen atoms in the water. It then applies radio waves to generate an image from the way the atoms move. MRI scanners provide detailed images.

Computed Tomography (CT or CAT Scan)

The CT uses multiple x-rays from different angles to scan the body in ‘slices’. These are then processed by a computer to create 3-D images. CT scans can provide much more detailed pictures of internal organs, bones, and blood vessels than x-rays.


An ultrasound machine transmits high-frequency soundwaves which are outside the range of the human ear. It then uses the reflections to build a picture of internal structures. Ultrasound is a useful way of examining many organs and is used to image the heart in echocardiography.

It’s easy to make an appointment; you can ask your Consultant, complete our online booking form or contact our Private Patient Team via Livechat or by calling 01580 363158. Alternatively, take a look through the full Tests and Scans guide and see what we can do for you.

Published on 14 August 2020