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What Is Advanced Diagnostic Imaging?

Higher Education Articles July 3, 2014

Diagnostic imaging is medical imaging that reveals to the diagnostician particular information through visualization of human body parts. It yields a functional image, or photograph, that may be studied and consulted for accurate assessment of disease process. It has diagnostic value and is used for studying anatomy and physiology.

What Is Advanced Diagnostic Imaging?

Most people experience some type of diagnostic imaging during their lifetime. The main purpose for this type of testing is to gather information about the condition of the patient, study the information, and build a successful treatment plan to get the patient back to optimal health. For example, if a patient has a broken arm, an x-ray will show severity, exact location, and other possible involvements. Therefore, treatment is more easily judged appropriate for the exact condition than for the physician to “guess” or estimate these attributes.

The discovery of x-rays in 1895 by Wilhelm Rontgon changed the medical arena and began a foundational study for the benefit of all mankind. Most advanced diagnostic imaging is a result of the stellar effort of this German professor of physics.

Medical imaging has progressed in prolific measure in the last 50–60 years. Radiation, or “invisible light,” pierces the tissues and produces a photographic film that is projected onto a screen and creates an image. However, a limiting factor is that density properties of soft tissue many times do not foster clear vision for all structures involved. More solid substance is easier seen, like bones, foreign bodies, and some tumor material depending on its location.

A History of Advanced Diagnostic Imaging

Between 1906 and 1912, the application of pharmaceutical contrast agents was found to brilliantly enhance the visualization of organs and blood vessels. The digestive tract and the gallbladder, along with other biliary structures, were also far more visible. As the techniques were more highly developed in the 1960s, angiography was introduced. This is the ability to look into arteries and veins.

Nuclear medicine techniques involve combining radionuclides with pharmaceuticals to form radiopharmaceuticals, which converge in the organs in a more active or targeted way. Based on cellular function and physiology, the emitted radiation is then recorded by gamma cameras. This is helpful because many disease processes can be detected in earlier stages than with other types of diagnostic testing.

Ultrasound also was developed in the 1960s. High frequency sound waves are transmitted through the body with a probe or transducer. A vibration of the transducer occurs, and electrical pulses are transformed into an image. Ultrasound is a very popular technique because it has no adverse bio-effects.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) came along in the ’70s. Radio waves 10,000 to 30,000 times stronger than the magnetic field of the Earth are sent through the body. Proton alignment takes place in the body, and as they move into different positions, they emit radio waves of their own. They are picked up by the equipment scanner, and an image is produced.

“Computed tomography,” or “computed axial tomography,” uses specialized x-ray to produce cross-section “slices” of the organs that are being observed. These diagnostic tests can be used on all parts of the body and are performed as outpatient procedures.

With advancement in radiotherapy, the capability of controlling the cell growth of malignant tumors has superseded past methods of cancer control. Tumor shrinking is more easily targeted with this technique and spares the surrounding tissue for an overall healthier outcome.

In conclusion, the ability to archive images of advanced medical imaging technology has matured in convenience and straightforward storage methods.

With the Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS), storage, retrieval, presentation, and distribution are computerized and easily linked from one system to another through proper software.

Integration of scanners, servers, printers, and network hardware has led us to ease and convenience in transmitting records. A better medical assessment by healthcare providers and truer value of diagnoses for patients is available because of development in this ever-changing industry.

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