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What is Medical Image Processing?

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  • Written By: Nicole Long
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 28 July 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Medical image processing allows physicians to view the inside of the human body. This is done with the help of images produced by various machines and technologies. There are several types of medical imaging tests, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computer tomography (CT), ultrasounds, and several other imaging exams.

Technology associated with medical image processing produces data in a variety of ways. Both black and white and color images in 3-D and 2-D are possible. The different processing technologies allow physicians to rotate and view images at various angles and make immediate determinations on changes from previous imaging tests and exams.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is one type of medical imaging test. MRIs utilize magnetic fields to create detailed images of the body. Physicians often order an MRI to look at various structures of the human body, including the ligaments, tendons, and brain.

CT scans utilize X-ray beams to create cross-section images of the human body. These scans can be useful when looking at bones, organs, and blood vessels. Since CT scans can provide cross-sectional data, they are often used to diagnose cancer within body organs such as the lungs, pancreas, and liver. Physicians also order CT scans if aneurysms or other vascular diseases are suspected.

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Internal body organs are typically the focus of ultrasound imaging tests. They work by recording echoes between a magnetostrictive transducer and the internal organs. Ultrasound imaging tests record images as they appear on a screen during the exam, and are then reviewed by physicians and those trained to read the results.

Endoscopic procedures benefit from the advances of medical image processing. Pictures taken by cameras inserted into the body can be converted into digital images and provide better image quality. Endoscopic procedures are commonly used for the diagnosis of gastrointestinal disease.

Medical image processing has allowed for the movement away from the review of traditional x-ray imaging film. X-ray imaging film still serves a purpose for immediate diagnosis of injuries such as broken bones, but converting the images into a digital image through the use of medical image processing techniques can yield more detailed and easily manipulated images. This allows for a more in-depth review of the internal organs and structures of the human body.

Advances in medical image processing are focused on the sharing of images and associated reports. This includes creating information systems to share findings with hospitals, patients, and physicians, as well as eliminating the need for forwarding films and discs. Another area of advancement includes digital image processing for eye exams.

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