What Is the Role of Image Processing in Medical Imaging?

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  • Written By: Jodee Redmond
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2019
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Image processing in medical imaging is an important component of diagnosing illnesses and injuries. Medical technicians can capture images of a specific part of the body as part of a detailed exam. These images are then shared with doctors and other medical personnel for diagnostic and treatment purposes.

Producing images for medical examination purposes can be performed in a number of ways. One common way of performing an examination is to use ultrasound technology. Many conditions can be diagnosed in this manner and the examination is only invasive in certain cases, such as in the case of certain cardiac and gynecological examinations.

A doctor may order a cardiac exam where a catheter is fed through a vein in the patient’s thigh and observed as it is moved up toward the heart. This procedure can detect blood clots and other abnormalities which require treatment. In this instance, the image processing in medical imaging is used in real time to assist doctors in helping the patient.


Another application for image processing in medical imaging is when an ultrasound is conducted and the images are forwarded to the treating physician either electronically or as a hard copy. In both instances, the ultrasound technician will need to take several images of the area being examined. During this process, he or she will need to add markers to the image so that the doctor can have a very clear idea of the dimensions of different elements of the image captured on the monitor.

Specialized software is used in hospitals and clinics to capture medical images. Some of these programs are used in nuclear medicine. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examination can reveal more details about the patient’s medical condition than an ultrasound. The patient is placed in a machine during the examination and a series of images are captured.

After medical images are captured, they are examined in detail by a radiologist. These trained physicians have the knowledge to interpret what they see in the pictures. Without good quality image processing in medical imaging, the radiologist’s work would be a lot more challenging.

Medical imaging software allows patient files to be stored electronically. They can be forwarded to a doctor quickly and efficiently, which may mean that a patient’s condition can be diagnosed more quickly. If a patient is seen at the hospital for a subsequent medical concern, a doctor can access this on an as-needed basis.



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