Whether you need to avail of medical imaging because of an injury or health condition, or you’re considering studying for a career in medical imaging, you’ll naturally want to learn more about it. It’s a field that’s rapidly changing, with technology advancing techniques and equipment on a regular basis.
Medical Imaging Explained
Playing a vital role in modern medicine, medical imaging enables doctors, surgeons and specialists to be able to see what’s going on inside the body, whether it be related to an injury, illness, or even the formation of an unborn child. While the X-ray is the oldest form of medical imaging still in use today, there are other methods of acquiring a glimpse inside the human anatomy.
Different Types of Medical Imaging
While there is some exciting technology still in development, currently today there are 5 common forms of medical imaging used daily and we’ll take a closer look at those in this section.
#1 – X-ray
The X-ray was invented in 1895 and has been perfected over the years. As most of us already know, X-rays are most commonly used to examine bones, tumours and other dense matter. The advantages of X-rays is they are non-invasive and are a fast way of providing imagery for healthcare workers. X-rays are the imaging technique of choice for broken bones and other bone-related issues. X-rays can also show swallowed items.
One disadvantage of the X-ray is radiation exposure. While these doses are incredibly small, radiation exposure can accumulate if a patient receives many X-rays during a lifetime.
#2 – CT Scans
The CT scan (Computed Tomography) is a medical imaging practise that has also been in use for many years. A patient lies within the machine while a series of X-rays are taken to create a cross-section of images inside the body for a more detailed picture.
CT scans, also known as CAT scans, are designed to help diagnose a variety of issues, as they can give a relatively clear image of bones, blood vessels, soft tissue and organs.
Although CT scans also use radiation, the benefits far outweigh any risks due to the detail CT scans provide medical staff. The procedure is painless and fast and a CT scan assists doctors and specialists to more accurately diagnose a condition.
#3 – MRI
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) doesn’t use radiation. Instead, a strong magnetic field combined with radio waves is used to create detailed internal images. While MRI scans can determine problems with soft tissue and organs, they are particularly useful in examining injuries to bones, joints and ligaments and are very often used to diagnose sports injuries.
An MRI scan can take up to one hour to complete, but it is painless and radiation-free. The imaging results are very detailed and offer a clear picture.
#4 – Ultrasound
An ultrasound is a very non-invasive and safe procedure, where a special gel is applied to the part of the body to be examined, then a probe that uses sound waves is applied. Ultrasound technology gives the healthcare professional imagery of organs inside the body and is often used to check on the health and progress of an unborn child.
#5 – PET Scan
A Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan involves the patient being injected with, swallowing or inhaling a radioactive tracer. Using gamma rays that the radioactive material emits, the scanner can then produce images of organs and bones. A PET scan can predict and diagnose a wide range of conditions and is generally painless. There are minor risks involved, such as the patient having an adverse reaction to the ionising radiation inside the body, but it’s generally safe.
Jobs In Medical Imaging
Medical imaging jobs can certainly be a very rewarding career path on a number of levels. Aside from the different types of medical imaging available, there is a variety of job roles a person can train for, such as medical imaging specialist jobs and medical imaging assistant jobs.
It’s a career with a lot of variety and job satisfaction and can also be extremely rewarding from a financial viewpoint.
No matter what your interest is in medical imaging, there are currently five main types in use today. There are also some very intriguing and exciting innovations in the pipeline that are set to become a reality in the very near future.