The Importance of Diagnostic Imaging
Ranked by the New England Journal of Medicine as one of the top medical developments over the past thousand years, medical imaging technology has revolutionized health care, allowing for earlier diagnoses of diseases, better patient outcomes, and has reduced the need for undue invasive exploratory procedures.
Medical imaging refers to technologies used to view the human body in order to diagnose, monitor, or treat medical conditions. Radiology is the branch of medicine that harnesses the power of diagnostic imaging to deliver pertinent information to other medical professionals.
There are many types of diagnostic radiology, and while there are distinct differences between the technologies, they are all effective in aiding diagnosis of the root cause of medical problems, monitoring how well your body is responding to treatment (such as chemo for cancer), and screening for illnesses such as breast cancer (mammography) and colon cancer screenings.
X-rays – which employ electromagnetic waves to generate images of bones, blood vessels, and soft tissue inside the body – are the simplest form of diagnostic imaging and have been around for over 100 years. Quick and painless, they’re used mainly to diagnose bone and joint-related conditions such as fractures. Their black and white contrast comes courtesy of varying levels of radiation absorption – with bones absorbing the most and air absorbing the least – making the lungs display as black and the bones, white.
Computed tomography (CT) scans use X-rays images taken from several angles to create cross-sectional visuals or “slices” of internal structures. A more advanced version of X-ray, this type of imaging is especially effective for patients suffering from internal trauma or injuries. CT scans can help diagnose muscle and bone disorders, pinpoint the location of a tumor or blood clot, detect internal bleeding, and even guide physicians during surgeries, biopsy procedures, and radiation therapy.
Not all diagnostic imaging requires the use of radiation. Magnetic resonance imaging, known by many as an MRI, utilizes powerful magnets and radio waves to generate individual 3-D pictures of internal structures. Highly effective for diagnosing conditions of the organs, soft tissues, and bone, MRI can reveal tumors in the chest, abdomen, or pelvis, soft tissue diseases including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or malformations of blood vessels. It can also be used to monitor a fetus in the womb of a pregnant woman. A single MRI can generate hundreds of images that a radiologist is then able to analyze.
Ultrasound, which is powered by high-frequency sound waves, is another form of diagnostic imaging that has become a household name, due in part to its importance during a woman’s gestational period. It allows a physician to monitor a fetus throughout the stages of a woman’s pregnancy. Medical professionals also make use of ultrasound as a window into the heart, kidneys, liver, and other organs.
A physician and radiologist will consider your own unique condition when determining what form of diagnostic imaging is best suited to you. For over 30 years, Independent Imaging has delivered compassionate, patient-focused care. Utilizing state-of-the-art imaging equipment, they’re able to quickly provide accurate images to referring physicians. For more information on their imaging services, call (561) 795-5558.