Medical imaging is a technique used in medicine, i.e. certain areas of medicine. It produces images of tissues and organs of the body and those pictures are later used in order to diagnose and cure the patients. Scanning and imaging of tissues and organs that are already dead, i.e. out of the body, although very similar is not considered medical imaging.
Even though certain methods, such as electrocardiography (EKG), do not create images, but maps, they can also be considered medical imaging.
Medical imaging basic notion
Even though medical imaging is a broader area and it incorporates radiology, very often the two are used synonymously. Sometimes the term clinical imaging is also used. The health care worker that is in charge of the medical imaging and works on understanding the images is called a radiologist while a radiologic technologist works on the complex devices that produce the images. Medical imaging has both a practical and a theoretical, research aspect. In the research area, scientists usually work on creating new techniques and improving the better ones, so that the results would be more accurate in the future. The practical aspect is working with patients, diagnosing and curing them, with the use of medical images. Some innovations have been borrowed by the industry and other sciences, such as chemistry and physics.
Types of medical imaging
Let’s look now at the different types of medical imaging, the most common techniques. High pitch sound waves used to create 3D images is how the technique medical ultrasonography can be described. Usually, the term ultrasound is used. The most frequent use of the ultrasound is connected with presenting the unborn baby during pregnancy. But, this is not the only use of the ultrasound. Various organs and tissues, even blood vessels, can be scanned and seen with the ultra sound. It is a powerful tool of medical imaging. The ultrasound owes some of its popularity to the fact that it is regarded as a fairly safe and non-harmful technique, that doesn’t produce much radiation. It is also quite cheap and swift. Breast thermography is used to discover breast cancer in women. It is a common practice of medical imaging, since it is very efficient and easy to utilise. Computed tomography is the most popular type of tomography, mostly because of its accuracy and precision in presentation, the downside being that it produces ionising radiation. Other types of tomography are orthopantomography, linear tomography and poly tomography. The latest is no longer in use. Magnetic resonance imaging is also utilised very frequently, as well as radiography, the oldest form of imaging.
Nuclear medicine imaging
Nuclear medicine is a branch of medicine that uses radioactive elements both for curing, as well as, diagnosing diseases. An interesting fact is that it discovers the radiation that comes from within the body. It is an area of medicine where medical imaging is, perhaps, most frequently used. Radiopharmaceuticals, extracted from radionuclides, are used for treatment in nuclear medicine. Positron emission tomography is one of the medical imaging techniques most frequently used in nuclear medicine.