The Different Types of Medical Imaging

The Different Types of Medical Imaging

Medical imaging is used for the diagnosis and detection of various kinds of health conditions. Below are the various types of medical imaging that you should be aware of.

X-ray

This form of imaging technique makes use of X-rays to create images of bones, certain types of tumors and other forms of dense matter. The good thing about X-rays is that they are quick, painless and non-invasive and can be performed in a matter of minutes. X-rays help in diagnosing various types of injuries and diseases, such as some infections and cancers and broken bones. However, one small issue with X-ray is that it involves an exposure to direct ionizing radiation, which can slightly increase the risk of cancer sometime in the future. The risk is greater for children.

CT Scans or Computed Tomography

CT Scans make use of multiple X-rays for producing cross-sectional layers, which reveal detailed images of parts inside the body, including organs, tissues, bones and tumors. CT Scans are quick and painless and certain procedures may require anesthesia. The good thing about CT Scans is that they help in the detection and diagnosis of varied types of health conditions than is possible with plain X-rays. The CT Scans can exclude or detect the presence of critical health problems. They can also be used to detect the recurrence of some previously treated condition. However, like X-rays, CT Scans also increase the possibility of cancer in the future, especially in young children. Since CT Scans use higher levels of radiation compared to plain X-rays, risks are comparatively greater than other imaging methods.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI Scans use radio waves and magnetic fields for showing detailed images of soft tissues, organs, bones, cartilage and ligaments. It is painless and non-invasive and does not use any ionizing radiation. MRI scans are regularly used for diagnosing various conditions. Anesthetics or sedatives may be required for MRI Scans in some cases. MRI scans are often noisy and lengthy and may lead to claustrophobia.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound involves high-frequency sound waves for producing moving images on a screen that show organs, bones, soft tissues as well as a fetus inside the body. It does not involve any ionizing radiation and is painless and non-invasive. It is used with pregnant women and assists in diagnosing numerous conditions affecting the pelvis, abdomen, breast, blood vessels, muscles, kidneys, joints and bones.

Nuclear medicine imaging with Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

This imaging technique involves injecting, swallowing or inhaling a type of radioactive ‘tracer’. Gamma-rays that are emitted by the tracer material can be used by a scanner for showing images of organs and bones. The imaging method is completely painless and can be used for detecting, predicting and treating an extensive range of health conditions. Another distinct advantage of this imaging method is that it reveals the way different body parts are working, which in turn makes it easier to detect health issues much earlier. The procedure is also helpful for detecting the extent to which any kind of cancer has spread as well as measure the effectiveness of the treatment. However, the imaging method can lead to allergic conditions in some people. Some people may feel claustrophobic when exposed to PET scanners.


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