What Is a Medical Imaging Center?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2019
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To aid in the diagnosis of diseases and conditions, it is often necessary for doctors to obtain recorded images of internal parts of the body. To help facilitate and expedite this service, medical imaging centers are necessary. A medical imaging center is a medical facility that provides medical imaging for routine and diagnostic imaging. The types of imaging that may be done include x-ray, ultrasound, MRI, CT scan, nuclear imaging, PET scan, and so on. Basically, a medical imaging center provides one, some, or all types of imaging.

Though hospitals have their own imaging facilities, many medical imaging centers are located independently of hospital facilities. This has been increasingly popular as the demand for health care has grown and patients find it more convenient to have tests or diagnostic imaging performed at smaller, more accessible sites. Satellite hospitals, or smaller scale acute care facilities, are also often equipped with a medical imagine department as well. Typically, only hospitals and acute care facilities are equipped with the ability to perform all types of imaging. A smaller medical imaging center will typically specialize in a specific type of imaging.

A good example of differences in types of imaging include radiological and nuclear. For example, an imaging center may perform both x-ray and ultrasound imaging, but not nuclear. Similarly, some imaging centers specialize in specific imaging tests such as endoscopy, fetal ultrasound, breast imaging or MRI.


In many cases, any given medical imaging center will be affiliated with a particular hospital or health care network. For this reason, it may be necessary for patients with instructions to obtain imaging to check with their insurance company and the facility before scheduling. Often times, the referring doctor’s office will schedule the test for the patient, but in some cases, such as routine imaging like mammograms, the patient is provided only with a written script and instructions to obtain the imaging at their convenience. It is always best for a patient to verify their insurance benefits and coverage.

Whether located in a satellite hospital, outpatient surgery center, urgent care, doctor’s office, or independent facility, a medical imaging center should be accredited to ensure that the imaging technicians are properly trained and possess the legal licensure and credentials to perform the procedure. It is unlikely that a facility associated with a known health network is not accredited. Medical imaging centers can be located by a referring physician as well as through insurance company referrals.


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