Types of Medical Imaging: How Ultrasound Helps You

Know how modern technology is helping to make your life better

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Ultrasound equipment as type of medical imaging technique

One of the useful gifts of modern technology is medical imaging. There are many types of medical imaging for better diagnosis and treatment of diseases and other medical problems. Among them all, ultrasound is the least invasive, highly safe and absolutely painless. Learn more about these different types of medical imaging and how ultrasound helps you in achieving better health. ~ Ed.

Medical imaging is the set of techniques used to obtain images of different parts of the body.

I’m sure you’d wonder why we need medical imaging of our body.

Well, it’s necessary as it helps detect or screen possible complications before they manifest, diagnose health conditions, and monitor the recovery process as well as the effect medical interventions have over a specific health condition.

An effective medical imaging procedure should clearly reveal structures and organs within the body hidden by the bones, tissues, and the skin and should also help identify any abnormalities.

Doctors have also used medical imaging to construct images of healthy organs. These images are stored in a database for different medical uses.

One application of these imaging databases is to help computer-aided diagnosis software to quickly identify abnormal organs and suggest suitable treatments.

5 Types of Medical Imaging

There are different types of medical imaging. Each medical imaging type has its strengths and weaknesses.

The health professional evaluates these choices and chooses an imaging type which will best reveal the organ of interest and aid in diagnosis. Below are some of the most common medical imaging types.

X-Rays

X-ray is a type of electromagnetic wave which has a higher frequency than that of UV rays but lower than that of Gamma rays.

Due to their high frequency, X-rays have a strong penetration ability and are used in medicine to cast a shade of a body organ or body part on a plate. The images shown are usually bicolored. The usual color is black and white.

The ability of X-ray to form an image is based on the fact that X-rays have different penetrating abilities. They have higher penetration on body muscles and less on bones. Thus they are best in casting images of fractured bones and in the identification of malignant cell growth.

CT (Computed Tomography) Scan

The CT imaging technology uses a series of scans to create a picture of a body part or an organ.

Initially, the CT machines used to take 2-dimensional images and assemble the different sections of the image to create the overall image. Recent technological advancements have allowed more efficient CT scanning which uses a helical approach to give a clear 3-D visual view of the organ.

Since this system is computer-aided, it is quite effective in detecting minor abnormalities within the organs being scanned.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

This imaging procedure uses magnetic resonance to construct a detailed image of the internal body organs and structures.

Unlike the first two methods highlighted above, this imaging procedure does not use radiations and thus it is safer and puts the patient at lesser risks. On the downside, MRI can’t be used by patients who are using artificial pacemakers.

During the procedure, radio waves are generated which affect the positioning of the atoms within the body. These changes of the position are picked by magnetic antennas and processed by a computer to produce a clear black and white image.

Nuclear Medicine Imaging

Nuclear medicine imaging uses radioactive compounds which produce gamma rays. These compounds are introduced to the body through an injection or through ingestion.

The medial specialist then uses a special device to detect the gamma rays being emitted. These signals are then logged into a computer and used to create a detailed image of the part of the body under diagnosis.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound is a non-electromagnetic wave which has a higher frequency than the audible sound. Ultrasound imaging uses these types of waves to create a reflected image of the organ under study.

The technology uses a transducer which generates ultrasound frequencies aimed at the organ under diagnosis. These waves on hitting such an organ/structure bounce back to the transducer.

The transducer picks these reflected waves and relays them to a computer which uses the time differences between the time the waves were generated and when they were detected by the transducer to construct a detailed 3-D image of the organ under study.

There have been no reports of adverse effects of this technology on the patients who have undergone this procedure. Due to its high safety, this procedure has found a wide application in the medical imaging field.

It is used to monitor fetus development, diagnose abdominal complications, check the health of the cardiovascular system, and diagnose pulmonary system complications.

However, not all ultrasound equipment will provide state-of-the-art ultrasound imaging. Philips ultrasound advises medical practitioners to consider the ability of the machine to provide optimized patient experience, safety, and clinical excellence before settling for a specific choice.

By having such a reliable ultrasound machine, the medical practitioner will be assured that they have a piece of equipment they can count on to generate clear and detailed images of the internal body organs and structures.

How Ultrasound Helps You

Ultrasound can help you in various ways and comes with multiple benefits. This type of medical imaging is in most cases non-invasive, relatively painless, and quite safe.

Also, you will not be exposed to strong electromagnetic waves which may have adverse health effects or even be injected with a contrast media such as a dye. Below are 4 main ways through which ultrasound can help you:

Diagnosis

There are a wide variety of medical conditions which can be diagnosed using ultrasound imaging. This technology can be used to produce clear images of soft tissues such as the muscles and also hard tissues such as the bones.

It’s effective in the diagnosis of different body organs including the kidney, the heart, and the liver. This said, there are limitations associated with this method.

For instance, it will be difficult to diagnose areas which are filled with much air such as the bowels since the ultrasound signal will not reflect efficiently.

Help in Medical Procedures

This imaging technology can guide doctors when performing different procedures.

For instance, this method is effective in needle biopsy where doctors use a needle to remove tissues within internal body organs for purposes of lab testing.

The images help the doctors monitor the position of the needle and furnish them with reliable visual information to administer the procedure safely.

Therapeutic Applications

Ultrasound has been shown to have therapeutic effects. There are two main ultrasound therapies which can be induced.

The first one is the high energy ultrasound therapy which is most needed for acoustic cavitation. The second one is the low energy ultrasound which has more therapeutic applications than the high energy ultrasound. It is used in fracture repair, sonophoresis, and gene therapy.

These high-frequency beams are also used in physiotherapy to treat diseases such as tendinitis and bursitis.

Pregnancy

Ultrasound images generated during pregnancy have multiple uses. They are used in monitoring the pregnancy progress, revealing abnormalities, and detecting the presence of twins.

They can as well be used to identify potential pregnancy complications and help in the implementation of medical intervention techniques to protect the health of the mother and the fetus.

Wrapping It Up

Medical imaging plays an important role in medical care.

It has helped medical specialists to better understand the human body, perform different diagnosis, and identify health complications before they exacerbate.

Ultrasound imaging is one of the safest medical imaging techniques and is widely applied in diagnosing different health conditions, guiding medics in the administration of certain procedures, and providing reliable images of the fetus during pregnancy.

Over to You

Has any type of medical imaging helped you in improving your quality of life? Share in the comments.

Photo Credit: Richman Photo



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Types of Medical Imaging: How Ultrasound Helps You

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