At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
Medical imaging is a procedure that uses various technologies to allow physicians to diagnose disorders in the human body. The primary benefit of this technology is that the inside of a body can be viewed without any invasive procedures like surgery being performed. To get a better understanding of this concept, it's helpful to know about the different types of medical imaging services available. Some of the most common types include nuclear medicine, ultrasounds, x-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Nuclear medicine is one of the medical imaging services that is primarily used to pinpoint things like disease and cancer. During this procedure, radio-pharmaceuticals are first given to a patient. As these radio-pharmaceuticals move through the body, they make it possible for imaging equipment to find the exact location of disease or cancer. In many cases, nuclear medicine makes is possible for physicians to find problem cells before they do serious harm to the body. As a result, disease and cancer can be diagnosed and treated quickly, which helps save lives.
Ultrasound imaging is a technology that relies on sonar, the same system of waves that bats use to navigate. This is one of the medical imaging services that can be used for different reasons, but is primarily used on pregnant women as a means to monitor the development of an unborn fetus. During the procedure, a high frequency probe is used to create a visual image on a computer. Usually, a gel is rubbed onto the stomach of a pregnant woman which helps create a more detailed view of her unborn child.
X-rays are one of the best known and more traditional types of medical imaging services. In most cases, x-rays are used after an individual has suffered an injury as a way to locate broken or fractured bones. The procedure essentially makes use of electromagnetic radiation which creates an image of body parts on a computer. Once a physician obtains an x-ray image, he can determine the severity of an injury which dictates how the injury is treated.
An additional type of medical imaging is magnetic resonance imaging. MRI technology uses a magnetic field which scans the body and feeds the data to a computer. Usually, patients must lay down inside a small chamber while the body is scanned. Magnetic resonance imaging is mainly useful for telling apart healthy and abnormal tissue. As a result, medical complications such as a tumor can be pinpointed and treated accordingly.