Medical Imaging and Radiology techniques explained

You might have heard or even gone through different processes of imaging at some point in your life. Undoubtedly, the medical imaging and radiology techniques plays an important role in our lives. So let’s dive in and understand the basics of imaging. To begin with, imaging is the action or process of generating an image of a body part using radiographic techniques as defined by Merriam-Webster.

What is Radiology?

Medical imaging and radiology techniques

Radiology is one of the medical disciplines which uses medical images for diagnosis and treating diseases. Doctors who specialize in analyzing, diagnosing, and treating injuries with the help of medical imaging are known as Radiologists. They specialize in various subspecialties, for instance, cardiovascular radiology, emergency radiology, musculoskeletal radiology, pediatric radiology and more.

Radiology comprises of many imaging techniques, for instance, X-ray, Computed tomography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Positron emission tomography, also ultrasound. Moreover, the medical imaging and radiology techniques played a major role in this pandemic.

So let’s discuss a few of them briefly below and widen your horizon of knowledge:

X-RAY:

Chest X-Ray medical imaging

X-ray being the most common imaging technique uses the penetrating form of high-energy electromagnetic radiation. Moreover, did you know that globally, an estimated 3.6 billion diagnostic medical examinations like X-rays are performed every year? X-ray imaging helps in viewing the inside of the body to detect any fractures, diseases, or injuries. However, we know that it has some side effects on excessive exposure but it is comparatively safer on short term exposure. Thus, it is rightly said that the benefits can outweigh the shortcomings.

Applications:

  • To diagnose arthritis in joints using arthrography
  • Mammography can detect breast cancer at an early stage
  • In dental check-ups to see extent of oral fractures, bone position, it additionally aids in not just detecting the extent of decay but also in treatment procedures.
  • In diagnosing infections like pneumonia, some tumors, blood vessel blockages, etc.

MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) Scanning procedure

MRI is a medical imaging technique used in radiology for generating pictures of the anatomy of the body. It uses a strong magnetic field to create a detailed, cross-sectional images of internal organs, tissues, and structures within the body. Sometimes, in addition to magnetic fields, it uses radio waves . As a matter of fact the procedure is painless, non-invasive, and non-ionizing. It detects pathological and physiological changes in living tissue.

Applications:

  • Evaluating lymph nodes and blood vessels (MR Angiography)
  • Furthermore detecting tumors or cysts
  • Any abnormality of the brain and spinal cord
  • It helps in detecting breast cancer and also certain type of heart problems

POSITRON EMISSION TOMOGRAPHY (PET)

PET scan focuses on studying our body functions and metabolism. It uses a radioactive drug and a tracer to depict the activity. The tracer can be placed in the body through injecting or swallowing depending on the organ that needs to studied or targeted. Besides, it can detect diseases way before than any other imaging test. This scan unveils information that other scans cannot detect. PET scans are combined with MRI or CT to derive precise views for better diagnosis.

Applications:

  • PET scan helps not just in detecting cancer but even in finding its recurrence.
  • Helps in detecting solid tumors in the brain, lung, thyroid, prostate, etc.
  • It can evaluate brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and seizures.
  • It can detect areas of declined blood flow

ULTRASOUND (SONOGRAPHY)

Medical imaging: Ultrasound scan

An ultrasound scan is a medical imaging technique which uses high-frequency sound waves to capture live images from within the body. It allows doctors to see inside of the body without making any incision. Ultrasound is used for examining babies in pregnant women as it is safe, non-invasive, and non-ionizing radiation. The image are produced when sound waves bounces off denser surfaces, on the other hand transfers through soft tissues and fluid. Whenever we hear this word, we tend to associate it with pregnancy, but it has many other uses.

Applications:

  • Examining brain and hips in infants.
  • Guides the needle for biopsy/ tumor treatment
  • Inspecting ovaries as well as uterus during pregnancy and in addition to this, keeping an eye on developing fetus’s health.
  • It provides a view of gallbladder, kidneys, thyroid, spleen, testicles, blood flow, etc.

There are many other imaging techniques like nuclear medicine imaging, CAT scan, CT scan, and fluoroscopy for now. Advanced medical imaging has developed over the past many years. Obviously, the latest advances have a huge impact on the diagnosis and treatment of various ailments. To sum up, there is still a whole lot of scope for more developments in radiology that will aid us in better and early detection of diseases, treatment of diseases that are not possible yet. 

REFERENCES:

1.https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/radiation/x-rays.html

2. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007451.htm

3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ultrasound/about/pac-20395177

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