When doctors need to get a better look at what’s going on in their patient’s bodies, they will often refer them to receive some type of diagnostic imaging. However, there are different types of diagnostic imaging exams, where the resulting images, or pictures, will help your doctor in making an accurate diagnosis, and choosing the best treatment plan.
There are several different types of diagnostic imaging tests. Each creates images based on different technology. A doctor may order one, or multiple tests, in order to help diagnose or rule out certain medical complications. Some of the most common types of diagnostic imaging tests besides X-rays are magnetic resonance imaging tests (MRIs), Computed Tomography scans (CT), and Ultrasound.
Unfortunately, the thought of having these tests done can often make patients anxious, but it’s important to remember that diagnostic imaging is typically non-invasive and painless. Therefore, if your doctor recommends that you are in need of specialized diagnostic imaging, it can be helpful to understand both how they work, and the common uses for the different types of imaging. Knowing the differences of each of these imaging tests can help ease your mind and know what to expect. Here are some of the most common tests we offer at Independent Imaging:
Medical radiology all started when a man by the name of Wilhelm Röntgen discovered what is called the X-ray, in 1895. At the time, Röntgen was exploring how electrical rays can pass from an induction coil through a glass tube. In a completely dark room, the tube was covered in black paper, and he noticed that a screen that was covered in florescent material became illuminated by the rays created from the glass tube.
It started with this discovery, where Röntgen would later realize that these rays could be used to pass through other objects. He used an image of his own hand on a photographic plate, instead of a screen, where the image was displayed translucently, creating an internal image of the structure of his hand. This discovery proved that the internal parts of our body can be seen without needing invasive and risky surgery to do so. The invention of the X-ray helped revolutionize modern medicine, evolving into what we use today, called the digital X-ray.
It was eventually recognized that frequent exposure to X-rays could be harmful, but today special measures are taken to protect the patient and doctor, and prevent complications. Today, digital radiography has several advantages over traditional film/screen X-rays, including less radiation, quality of image for accurate diagnosis, and quicker results.
Ultrasound technology is a great diagnostic tool for seeing live images of the working structures of the body, especially the structures of joints within the body. Ultrasound imaging (sonography) uses high frequency sound waves, to create a live video feed image of the inside of the body. Ultrasound is the technology, or the “eyes” if you will, for helping doctors get a closer look to make an accurate diagnosis.
Since images are captured in real-time during ultrasound, they can also show movement of the body’s internal organs as well as blood flowing through blood vessels. Unlike X-ray imaging, there is no radiation exposure associated with ultrasound imaging.
During an ultrasound exam, a probe called a transducer is placed directly on the skin or inside the body. A thin layer of gel is applied to the skin so that the ultrasound waves are transmitted from the transducer through the gel into the body.
The quality of the ultrasound images is produced based on the reflection of the waves off of the body structures. The strength or amplitude of the sound signal and the time it takes for the wave to travel through the body provides the information necessary to produce an image. These images help the doctor to evaluate something more closely and make an accurate diagnosis.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
An MRI uses a powerful magnetic field combined with specific radio frequencies to create detailed images of internal body structures with the aid of a sophisticated computing system. Doctors order full body MRI’s for many reasons. MRI’s can detect abnormalities, cancerous and noncancerous growths, damaged tissues, and more. They can also help your doctor gain a better understanding of your joints, cartilage, bone, and soft tissues in a way that other tests cannot.
Computed Tomography (CT Scan)
Computed Tomography technology was originally created for taking detailed pictures of the brain. Now, it is much more advanced and is used for taking pictures of virtually any part of the body. In other words, CT scans are used to take pictures of internal organs, bones, soft tissue, and blood vessels. They may be ordered for acute injuries and conditions or for chronic vascular conditions. They are also an invaluable tool in determining the exact size and location of tumors and guiding procedures to treat tumors.
A computed tomography scan, known as a CT scan combines a series of X-ray images taken from many different angles with computer processing technology, to create sections of images of the bones and soft tissue inside the body. For example, a CT scan can be related to slicing bread. Each section or slice of images can be viewed individually to get a better visualization and overall picture of the body. CT scan images can provide much more information than plain X-rays and other diagnostic imaging,
To learn more about the differences between the diagnostic imaging tests that we offer, and what to expect, call Independent Imaging at (561) 795-5558 to request an appointment, or use our request an appointment tool.