Clinical Imaging

About this service

Clinical Imaging is featured in nearly every patient’s healthcare journey, whether as part of a screening or prevention programme, an x-ray to investigate a suspected broken bone, an ultrasound or to guide treatment or procedures.

We use highly specialist equipment to provide a range of procedures, including:

  • Bowel Imaging, as part of the NHS programme and also for patients who have been referred by their clinician.
  • Breast imaging. Screening as part of the NHS programme and when patients are referred by their GP.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) scans to look at organs and soft tissue.
  • DEXA Bone density scans to assess the risk of fracture.
  • Fluoroscopy, which uses x-rays to produce a video to look at the body in ‘real-time’ for example bowel movements or swallowing assessments.
  • Interventional Radiology is used for image-guided treatments, such as angioplasty or stents, which are less invasive than traditional surgery.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses strong magnetic fields to take detailed pictures of organs and soft tissue.
  • Nuclear Medicine uses a radioactive injection (tracers) to look at the structure or function of parts of the body.
  • Trauma, Acute and General X-ray to look at bones and soft tissues.
  • Ultrasound to take sonar images of the body. Ultrasound is used for a wide range of conditions, including pregnancy scans.
  • Vascular & Cardiac Imaging to diagnose and treat various cardiovascular conditions.

How we store our images

All images obtained are securely stored on our centralised Picture Archive Communications System (PACS). Using our image exchange portal (IEP), the Clinical Imaging team is able to transmit and receive images from further afield. This secure system means that colleagues in hospitals and out in the community can instantly access our images and specialist reports. This service means we can avoid delays and unnecessary repeated procedures.

Imaging Children

We know that x-rays and imaging can be a daunting experience for children, but our team is experienced at putting them at ease. Your child is welcome to bring along a toy or comforter and our friendly team will explain exactly what’s going to happen when they have their special picture taken. We also have certificates and stickers at the ready for after they have been brave!

Policies and forms

Please click here to see all our latest policies and forms.

Contact information

We have facilities at the three Royal Cornwall Hospitals sites in Truro, Hayle and Penzance, and in eight of the county’s community hospitals.

To make, change or cancel an appointment

Type of appointmentTelephone number
CT Scans01872 252290
MRI01872 252290
X-Ray01872 252290
Ultrasound01872 252290
At the Mermaid Centre for Breast Imaging and Surgical Outpatients01872 252880
Nuclear Medicine01872 252330

If you have a query or are running late for an appointment, please contact the relevant local facility

LocationServicesPhone Number
Royal Cornwall HospitalUltrasound and CT department reception01872 252290
Mermaid Centre reception at Royal Cornwall HospitalBreast Screening and Mammogram01872 252880
West Cornwall HospitalX-ray
01872 252290
St Michael’s HospitalX-ray01872 252290
Bodmin HospitalX-ray01208 251576
Bodmin HospitalUltrasound01208 251320
Camborne Redruth Community HospitalX-ray
01209 318015
Falmouth HospitalX-ray01326 430013
Helston HospitalUltrasound01736 874230 or 01872 252290
Newquay HospitalX-ray01637 834822
St Austell HospitalX-ray
01726 873005
Stratton Hospital, BudeX-ray01288 320109
St Mary’s Hospital, Isles of Scilly (Open once a week on a Wednesday)X-ray01720 422392

Where to find us

We have many locations for our imaging services. You will find directions in your appointment letter. Please read the letter carefully before attending your appointment, as each appointment varies and you may have to do specific preparations such as fasting, or coming 30 minutes early for preparation.

If you come to the hospital for an imaging appointment and get lost, please speak to our main reception who will help you find your appointment location.

Interactive virtual tour

View an interactive virtual tour of the Trelawny Scanning Suite at RCHT below.

Information about clinical imaging scans

What is a Cardiac CT Scan (Video)

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Nuclear Medicine is an imaging speciality that uses radioactive tracers to assess bodily functions to assist diagnosis and treat different diseases. The tracers (known as radiopharmaceuticals) can be administered in a variety of ways; injection and ingestion being the most common. Specially designed equipment called gamma cameras are able to detect the radioactive tracers, producing diagnostic information.

Examinations can vary with some procedures taking anything from a few minutes to hours or scanning over several days.

SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) is the main imaging modality used in RCHT. This provides 3D images which, when superimposed with CT (SPECT/CT) provides highly sensitive and specific hybrid images.

PET (positron emission tomography) similarly uses radiopharmaceuticals to create diagnostic images and are also performed at RCHT. It is used heavily in clinical oncology (medical imaging of tumours and the search for metastases), and for clinical diagnosis of certain diffuse brain diseases, such as those that cause dementias.

Nuclear Medicine also provides therapy treatments for benign and malignant diseases, by delivering high doses of radiation to targeted areas. This type of therapy is very specific, therefore minimizing unwanted side effects and involvement to other uninvolved organs.

Myocardial Perfusion Stress testing is one of the procedures that commonly take place in Nuclear Medicine. For more detailed information about Myocardial Perfusion Stress testing, please watch our video.

For more information about the department or your appointment, please contact the Nuclear Medicine Team on 01872 252330.

You can find more information about radiation and the risks and benefits here:

Professional careers in imaging

There are multiple ways to find out about careers in this area:

Frequently asked questions cardiac CT scan

Will I be in any pain or experience discomfort?

Cardiac CT is a very easy test, and you should not feel any pain during the test. The most uncomfortable part is putting the cannula in. During the test you will experience a hot flush when the contrast goes in.

Can you do the test without giving me a contrast injection?

No, to achieve an angiogram of the blood vessels we must give you an injection of CT contrast. Without this injection we cannot do the test. If you refuse to have the contrast, we will have to cancel the test.

Can you do the test without giving me any betablocker?

Many patients need a small injection of betablocker before we start the scan to regulate and lower the heart rate slightly. This medication helps us acquire clearer images, helping the doctor to report the scan. If you need to have this medication but you refuse to have it, we may not be able to proceed with the scan.

How long will the beta blocker be in my system?

The type of beta blocker used for patients having cardiac CT scans (Intravenous Metoprolol) will peak inside your body 20 minutes after the injection. The levels in your blood stream then fall and on average half of the injected dose will have disappeared by 3-7 hours and it will have completely gone by 12-18 hours.

Will I feel the effects of the beta blocker?

In most cases, you will not feel any different following the injection of beta blocker however some people say they feel a bit tired for the rest of the day following the injection. Rarely beta blockers can make asthma worse, and this will be discussed with you at the time of your scan if you are asthmatic.

Can you do the scan without giving me a GTN?

If it’s safe to do give we recommend all patients have 2 sprays of GTN before we take the images. This medication enlarges the blood vessels making them clearer on the scan pictures, helping the doctor to report the images. If you refuse this medication the blood vessels may not look as clear on the scan images making it harder to get an accurate report.

Will I feel the effects of the GTN?

Some patients do get a headache from the GTN spray (if given). If you do get a headache this is usually fast resolving.

Should I stop taking my medication before the test?

No, please continue to take any medication you are on as normal. In particular, if you have been prescribed betablocker please continue to take the se as normal. They often help with regulating your heart rate on the day of the scan.

Why do I have to avoid caffeine prior to the scan?

Caffeine is a stimulant and raises your heart rate. We require a slow and steady heart rate to get the best possible images. If your heart rate is too fast (and we are unable to regulate it with medication) we may not be able to proceed with the scan, or the images we acquire may be undiagnostic. To help ensure we get an optimum heart rate during the scan we ask you to avoid anything that has caffeine in it for 12 hours prior to your appointment. For those of you that smoke, we also ask that you refrain from smoking for 3 hours prior to your appointment.

Why do I have to bring a list of medications with me?

It’s important for us to know what medication you are taking; this enables us to ensure it is safe to give you further medication for this test (if needed).

Will I get my results on the day of the test?

No, a doctor needs to sit down and look through all the images and write a formal report. It can take up to 2 weeks for us to generate this report. The report will get sent back to you referrer who will contact you, but the time this takes will vary depending on how busy they are.

Page last reviewed: 23 May 2024

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