AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

Medical imaging scans allow physicians to diagnose and treat illnesses more accurately than ever before. Several types of imaging devices are used in the medical field, and all of them work in different ways to help physicians see inside the body.

X-Ray Scans

The medical imaging most people are familiar with is the X-ray. It is primarily used to look at bones and tissue and involves the use of radiation to develop digital photographs. When a contrast dye is injected into the body, an X-ray can also be used to check the functionality of vital organs such as the kidneys or liver. It is hailed for providing crisp images in only a short amount of time and is also relatively inexpensive when compared to other types of medical imaging. X-rays can be helpful in determining bone density, checking for tooth decay or diagnosing pneumonia, among other things.

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The use of high frequency sound waves to view images from inside the body is known as sonography or ultrasound. The most common use of sonography is to monitor the development of a fetus inside the womb; however, it can also be used to check for abnormalities in other organs such as the intestines, stomach and kidneys. Sonography waves can also be used to detect aneurysms and vein disorders as well. An advantage of this type of imaging is the fact that it does not emit radiation, and a disadvantage is that the images produced by ultrasound waves are somewhat less detailed than with other methods.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI involves the use of magnetic and radio waves to provide a physician with internal images. Like X-rays, it can also be used in conjunction with a contrast dye when more detail in images is needed. MRI machines are very large pieces of equipment that are capable of detecting abnormalities in the muscular, skeletal or neurological systems of the body. This type of imaging provides a more in-depth look at internal organs, but may not be safe for pregnant women or people with metallic devices such as pacemakers.

Computed Tomography (CT) Scan

CT scans provide cross-sectional views of internal organs and systems. They use a combination of X-ray beams and electronic waves to essentially “scan” the body, thereby creating an image of it. They are often used for looking at blood vessels, muscles, and bones and can be especially helpful in diagnosing tumors, internal injuries and strokes. They are given in a manner similar to an MRI; however, they do not pose the same risk to people with pacemakers. Even so, they do contain high levels of radiation and should therefore not be given to pregnant women.

Nuclear Imaging

Nuclear imaging involves having patients ingest a small amount of radioactive material. In turn, this radioactive material transmits beams from inside the body, which are then made read by an external scanner. It is a common way of diagnosing cancer and heart disease, but it is not often used because it can be more expensive than other imaging methods.

Now more than ever, doctors have multiple ways of seeing inside the body thanks to continued improvements in the field of medical imaging. Intense training is required by the technicians who operate imaging equipment, since each type is unique in the way it provides these photographs.

About the Author: Yassin works for BRIT Systems Inc. They offer medical imaging solutions for clinicians, medical physicists and computer scientists.


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