What is medical imaging, and what does it do? These are both big questions! Asking these questions is a good thing because medical imaging and the medical imaging equipment needed plays a very important role in modern health care. Medical imaging describes the techniques that are used to create images of various parts of the body that cannot be viewed with the eye. In other words, with the help of medical imaging, structures inside the body and beneath the skin can be seen, and understood, in great detail.
Imaging can be very helpful. Being able to see inside the body means that health conditions can be detected early and monitored for changes. There is a wide range of imaging techniques, and each type of medical imaging equipment can show an image of a different body part. The different technologies show different things happening inside the body, meaning that different medical imaging equipment serves a different function.
Here are some of the more common types of digital medical imaging equipment and the function they serve.
• Computer Tomography is also known as a CT Scan or a CAT scan. The CT scan uses x-ray technology to look at the whole body to create a more detailed picture of the internal organs, bones, soft tissues, and blood vessels.
• Magnetic Resonance Imaging is medical imaging equipment that uses a magnetic field and radio waves for detailed images of organs, tissues, bones, and cartilage. The MRI can assess brain and spinal cord abnormalities, activities, or injuries, as well as heart function and blood flow, among other things.
• Ultrasound uses sound waves rather than ionizing radiation. High frequency sound waves are transmitted from a probe to the body via a conducting gel. The waves bounce back when they hit a structure within the body. Ultrasound is used during pregnancy for viewing the fetus, but it can also be used to look for growths and conditions in other areas of the body, like the abdomen, breasts, kidneys, muscles, or blood vessels.
• X-Ray is the oldest type of medical imaging equipment. X-rays are electromagnetic radiation, and they work on a wavelength and frequency that the human eye alone cannot detect. X-rays see beneath the skin, and they can diagnose bone breaks, cancers, and digestive issues.
• Positron-Emission Tomography - A PET scan requires a patient to swallow, inject, or inhale a radioactive tracer. The patient then lies within the scanner bed while it detects gamma rays from the tracer and turns them into images. Any brighter spots indicate a potential disease or problem, like a tumor, a heart problem, or a brain disorder.
There are different kinds of medical imaging equipment because each can carry out a different function with different levels of cost and risk. Doctors want to use the best resources possible, so be sure to discuss the strengths, weaknesses, benefits, and concerns of each type of medical imaging equipment with your medical team.
Click here for more information about medical imaging equipment and which one is best for each situation.