There was a time in medicine, and not all that long ago, that despite technological advances, health care providers were still not getting the best views of the interior of the human body. On top of that, the medium used to capture these images often did not store well, and the potential risks to patients because of techniques used were not inconsiderable.
But the field of radiology, or diagnosing medical issues based on images of the interior of the body, has made great strides over the last several decades. Today, in addition to X-rays, depending on the medical situation, radiologists have the option of using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and positron emission tomography (PET), which is one of the disciplines of nuclear medicine.
Specifically, the process of X-rays involves passing radioactive rays through specific areas of the patient’s body. Some of these rays passing through “congregate” around the body area in question, transmitting an image of it which can be captured on film. The technique was first developed in 1895, and was the only image viewing technology available to medicine until the early 1950’s. Traditional X-rays are still effective tools for viewing fractures, arthritis, and some lung ailments. Due to the radioactive elements used, there is a slight chance of health risk in being X-rayed, but this can be circumvented by shielding the patient, or not using the technique on patients with certain conditions, like pregnancy. Recent advances in X-raying include fluoroscopy and angiography which involve using special equipment and ingested “contrasting elements” like barium, to provide an interior view that can be seen over closed circuit television.
Computed tomography uses both X-ray techniques and computer algorithms to produce a cross section of a certain area of the body. The equipment rotates around a prone patient to capture the images. CTs are especially effective in pinpointing kidney stones, and the first one was used in 1972.
Ultrasound involves passing high frequency sound waves through the patient’s body, which bounce off “obstructions” encountered. The safety of this procedure makes it popular for examining pregnant woman, but this technology is more limited than others described here. First used in the 1970’s, it first provided what were essentially 2-D photographs. Modern advances in this technology however, allow medical practitioners to view images in real time and in 3-D.
And magnetic resonance imaging uses strong magnetic waves to disrupt and realign the body’s natural radioactive activity, and captures radio signals that this process transmits. Recent advances have allowed for less scanning time and clearer images, and this technique is especially useful in neurology. Nuclear medicine involves introducing “nuclear tracers” into the patient’s body.
While doctors often consult with patients about the results of these tests, radiology technicians are the specialists who operate the technologies used, and interpret the findings. And a company that has been invaluable in helpings them with both is Imaging Advantage, a company that not only provides medical facilities with the latest in imaging technology, but providers trained operators of such technology, and skilled interpreters of resulting images. The company also offers other services, such as setting up medical billing programs, and is not only committed to providing facilities with the best in imaging technology, but customer care.