Medical imaging allows doctors to see inside your body from the outside. We take it for granted today – but before imaging, diagnosing injuries and diseases was often difficult or impossible. From the first X-rays taken in 1896, to the sophisticated radiology techniques of today, people everywhere benefit from different imaging technologies.
Medical imaging procedures that help radiologists diagnose and treat health conditions include X-rays, computerized (or computed) tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear imaging including bone scans, positron emission tomography, and ultrasound (or sonography).
X-rays are the standard to which all other imaging is compared. X-rays are a form of light radiation that is invisible to vision. They pass through most objects but are absorbed by some hard substances like bones. X-rays are used to show images of bones and are commonly used to diagnose fractures. X-rays are the oldest and most widely available imaging technique.
Computerized Tomography (CT)
A CT scan uses X-rays to create a more detailed image of an internal structure. CT scans show cross-sections of the body and can create 3D images with software. Doctors often use this scan to determine the size and location of a tumor. The machine looks like a large, white, doughnut-shaped tunnel that a patient slides into on a table for imaging.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
An MRI uses a different type of energy to create images. A magnetic field affects the water molecules in the body and radio frequency (RF) waves pulse through the field to change how the aligned molecules move. This combination of magnetic waves and RF allows the creation of incredibly detailed 3D images.
An MRI is usually performed in a long tube where the patient lies still for the 30-90 minutes required for the scan. Open MRIs are sometimes used for patients who are claustrophobic.
Nuclear imaging uses a completely safe radioactive tracer that is injected into the patient’s vein. A special camera records how the tracer moves through the body, which can show irregular tissue that can indicate cancer, a tumor, or infection. The tracer is injected only at the area where the test is needed and it is eliminated from the body within a few days.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan and PET/CT Scan
A PET scan is a type of nuclear imaging that follows how a radioactive tracer is metabolized by the body. A PET/CT scan combines this test with computed tomography to deliver more accurate results than either procedure alone.
The information received from the PET scan is superimposed with the detailed X-rays of a CT scan to provide context for the patient. This allows a radiologist to pinpoint the location of an irregularity shown by the tracer.
Because there is zero radiation exposure, ultrasound exams are almost always the choice of prenatal providers for diagnostic images of pregnancies. It creates real-time images of soft tissues that are not visible in X-rays. Ultrasound provides a safe and easily accessible way to view the gallbladder, kidneys, prostate, testicles, uterus, and breasts.
It is also used for information on blood flow and heart valve function. An ultrasound is performed with a handheld probe that is applied to outside of the body and lubricated with a jelly that may feel very cold when applied.
Expert Imaging in Palm Beach County
All imaging diagnostics are performed by expert, caring technicians at Independent Imaging in Palm Beach County, Florida. Our experienced radiologists provide results to your doctor within 24 to 48 hours after your test.
We have four convenient locations that are open six days a week. Call (561) 795-5558 to make your appointment today, or request an appointment online.