Sierra Imaging radiology-faq

Billing / Insurance

Is Sierra Imaging Associates contracted with my Insurance?

In attempts to keep out of pocket costs down for our patients, Sierra Imaging is constantly working with local, and national insurance carriers to accept agreed contract rates for our patients. We have compiled a list of current insurance carriers that we have completed contracts with. If you do not see your insurance carrier on the list, please call our scheduling department at (559) 322-4271 for an update. Please check our Contracted insurances Link or Click Here to be taken to the page. We also accecpt credit cards, and Care Credit. You can learn more by clicking on the Care Credit link at the bottom of the page. We also have have a competetive cash pay program as an alternative option.

What should I bring to my appointment?

Please bring a current copy of our medical insurance card. At the time of admitting, please review all of your patient registration information for correctness so we can correctly bill your insurance carrier for your exam.

Will Sierra Imaging Associates bill both my primary and secondary insurance:

Yes, we will bill both your primary and secondary insurance carriers as long as we have your correct billing information on file.

What if my exam needs a prior authorization?

Sierra Imaging will work directly with your referring physician’s office and your medical insurance carrier to obtain a prior authorization for your exam.


What patient information is needed to schedule an exam at Sierra Imaging?

The following information should be provided at the time of scheduling a patient at Sierra Imaging:

  • Patient name
  • Patient’s date of birth
  • Referring physician
  • Social Security number
  • Patient’s telephone number
  • Patient’s insurance information
  • Procedure requested Diagnosis or ICD-9 code
  • Prior studies and prior facilities (if known)

My patient works during the day; can Sierra Imaging accommodate early morning, evening, and Saturday appointment times?

Sierra Imaging will be glad to schedule your patient for an early morning, extended evening, or Saturday appointment time. (Currently MRI appoinments only on Saturday). It is important to note that children cannot be left unattended during your patient's appointment.

How can my office obtain Sierra Imaging Associates referral pads?

Please contact Irene Royal, Marketing Coordinator at (559) 322-4285, or email Irene at She will be glad to bring by any referral information you may need to your office.

What procedures are done at Sierra Imaging?

Sierra Imaging currently has state of the art imaging equipment for the following modalities: CT, MRI, Digital X-ray and Ultrasound (Ultrasounds are performed through our partnership with W.I.S.H.)

Who do I speak with concerning scheduling an appointment?

Please contact our scheduling department directly at (559) 322-4271. One of our scheduling specialists will be happy to assist you with any of your scheduling needs.

Medical Records

Can I obtain a copy of my medical records from Sierra?

Sierra Imaging will provide to our patients, a copy of the final Radiologist report after five (5) business days.  A copy of a CD of their studies can be released the same day, with a signed medical records release. A copy of the release form can be found on this website, or please contact our Medical Records Department at (559) 322-4269.

How soon can I obtain my records with a signed release?

Please allow the Sierra Imaging Medical Records staff (48) hours to complete your request for medical records.

I have had prior studies at other facilities; do I have to request my prior studies?

No, our staff will be happy to assist our patients in contacting the previous facilities and request a copy of your prior exams to be forwarded to Sierra. Please let your referring physician’s office know that you have had prior studies at other facilities at the time of scheduling.



What is a CT or CAT scan?

CT scans reveal both bone and soft tissues, including organs, muscles, and tumors. Image tones can be adjusted to highlight tissues of similar density, and, through graphics software, the data from multiple cross-sections can be assembled into 3-D images. CT aids diagnosis and surgery or other treatment, including radiation therapy, in which effective dosage is highly dependent on the precise density, size, and location of a tumor

What is the difference between CT and MRI?

CT uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology. MRI uses a combination of a strong magnetic field, radiofrequency, and computer technology.

Does the examination hurt?

Generally the procedure is painless. If your procedure is ordered with intravenous (IV) contrast, a minor needle stick will be involved.

What will it feel like when I get the intravenous (IV) contrast?

Some patients may note a metallic taste, and/or a warm sensation throughout the body. However, most patients do not feel any different.

What is the difference between MRI and CT intravenous (IV) contrast?

MRI IV contrast is a gadolinium based solution which will show blood vessels/blood flow. CT IV contrast is an iodine based solution that will show areas of blood vessels/blood flow.

What does the oral contrast agent taste like? Why do I have to drink it and why so much?

It tastes similar to a Berry smoothie. The oral contrast agent coats your stomach, small bowel, large bowel, and lower colon so it is more easily identified on the images. The bowel tract is approximately 20 feet long and it takes a generous amount of contrast to coat it adequately – the more, the better.

Why would I have a CT as opposed to a MRI?

Because the indication, your medical condition, and the area of interest can be better imaged and diagnosed in CT.

If I’m pregnant, can I have a CT scan?

Generally not, however, your ordering doctor and the radiologist may think the benefits of having the test outweigh any risks. Be sure to notify staff personnel if you are pregnant or possibly pregnant and have a procedure scheduled.

Does a CT scan involve a lot of radiation?

A combination of taking thin slices and technology reduces radiation to the patient. Recent updates to equipment and software have significantly reduced radiation.


When will I know the results?

Your doctor will generally receive the results within 24-48 hours after your exam, and you can obtain the results from him or her.

Can I get the results directly from Sierra Imaging staff?

Technologists are not trained to intrepert the procedures and therefore, cannot give any information to the patient. Once your procedure has been intreperted by the radiologist, you may request a copy of the report after 48 hours of the exam.

What about my medications?

Generally, there are no restrictions, however, there are for some procedures. Please refer to CT Preparation A for more information.

Will I need a driver?

No, unless you receive medications which will restrict your judgment, reactions or make you tired.

When can I go back to work?

Immediately after the procedure unless you have received medications which will restrict your judgment, reactions, or make you tired.

Do I need to bring anything with me to the test?

Your doctor’s order/referral slip. Any previous examinations which are pertinent to the procedure (films/reports) and a list of medications you are currently taking. If you are going to receive an intravenous (IV) injection, you may fill out and print the IV assessment form online and bring it as well. You may do the same with an online, pre-registration form.

Does my examination need to be scheduled?

Most procedures require advance scheduling, however some may be done on a walk-in basis. Please contact us if you have questions whether your procedure needs to be scheduled. It is important to note that children cannot be left unattended during your exam.

What is a creatinine laboratory test and why am I having one done?

This is applicable only to patients who are going to receive intravenous (IV) contrast. A creatinine laboratory test is an indication of kidney function. Some patients, due to certain medical conditions, medication regimens, and other factors may have less than normal kidney function. The intravenous (IV) contrast is eliminated by your kidneys, therefore, we need to know your kidney function before we give you the contrast.

Why am I repeatedly asked questions about a pacemaker, surgeries, and metal in my eyes, amongst other things?

Because the magnetic fields present in our scanners are so strong, these things can be adversely affected. We continually screen our patients for their safety. We want to avoid possibly damaging any implants and/or having them move or dislodge and potentially harming you.

Why do I have to have an x-ray of my eyes?

Any metallic objects when put in the magnetic field of the scanner have the potential to move. Any patient who has had an accident in which a metallic foreign object lodged in the eyes, will have an x-ray taken prior to the scan. The radiologist will then check the x-ray to see if the object is still embedded. Although you may have had this removed by a doctor, we will still check to ensure there is nothing left.

Are there any instructions or restrictions after the examination? Are there any restrictions on my medications? Do I need a driver?

The answer to all three questions is NO, unless you are going to be given medication for claustrophobia or pain.

What if I am claustrophobic?

You have a couple of options. We may be able to scan you in our open MRI scanner, or you may be given oral sedation to help you relax for the procedure.

What is contrast material?

Also referred to as contrast agent or contrast medium. Any internally administered substance that has a different opacity from soft tissue on radiography or computed tomography. Materials used include barium, used to make opaque parts of the gastrointestinal tract; water-soluble iodinated compounds, used to make opaque blood vessels or the genitourinary tract; may refer to air occurring naturally or introduced into the body; also, paramagnetic substances used in MRI.

What does it mean when contrast has to be used?

Contrast is used depending upon your symptoms, condition, or possible diagnosis. The use of contrast helps to better visualize areas where blood flow exists. If contrast is used for your study, it does not mean that your condition is serious or anything is wrong – it simply means that additional information gained from the injection will provide a more complete answer for your doctor. The contrast used for MRI studies is completely different and unrelated to other contrasts used for CT and radiology studies.

What is Neuroradiology?

The branch of medicine that uses radiant energy (x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, etc.) to diagnose disorders or diseases of the central nervous system.


What is Radiology?

The branch of medicine concerned with the use of radiant energy (such as x-rays) in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

What is a Radiologist?

A doctor who specializes in creating and interpreting images of areas inside the body. The pictures are produced with x-rays, sound waves, or other types of energy. A radiologist is trained in the diagnostic and/or therapeutic use of x-rays and radionuclides, and radiation physics; a diagnostic radiologist may also be trained in diagnostic ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging and applicable physics.

Why is radiology important?

Radiology technology enables physicians to make accurate and early diagnoses, select the best treatment plans, and if the treatment involves surgery, even practice in advance. By using radiographic imaging and computers, surgeons can have a dress rehearsal. Three-dimensional images can be rotated; images can be manipulated to peel away organs and isolate a single structure - all on a computer screen. Today, 59% of the U.S. population receives radiology services each year. Some of the most important and recent advances in medicine are occurring in neuroradiology. In it's first 100 years, radiology turned medicine upside down. In the next hundred years, radiology will turn medicine inside out!

Are we exposed to radiation in our everyday life?

Radiation is a natural part of life. Radiation is light, short radio waves, ultraviolet or x-rays. It has existed since the beginning of time and is an integral part of the universe in which we live. Life on earth has evolved in the presence of radiation. Radiation comes to us from many sources both natural and man-made. These sources include cosmic radiation from outer space, radiation from the soil and buildings, and natural isotopes in our own bodies. Cosmic radiation and terrestrial radiation vary with location.