Radiology is the practice and use of medical imaging technology to create and map out images of the human anatomy through the use of x-rays, ultrasound, MRI scans, PET scans & computed tomography as well as other technologies that are able to capture images of the human body.
Those who operate these machines are known as radiologists.
Radiologists interpret the data and use this information to locate, diagnose and treat injuries, illnesses and diseases that may otherwise go unnoticed or unidentified.
After the radiologist captures and interprets the data they then create a report and transfer their findings to the doctor, practitioner or health care provider that requires this information in order to properly diagnose and if necessary treat their patients’ medical condition.
Radiology allows doctors and other health care professionals to observe abnormalities within the body without having to perform incisions or other invasive procedures that unnecessarily take time and money and possibly put the patient’s health at risk.
Types of radiology
Note: This is not a complete list of techniques and technology used for radiologist testing but it should give you a good idea of some of the technology involved in radiology.
X-ray – X-rays are often used in medical facilities to look for damaged, misaligned or abnormal bone structures in the body.
X-rays work by emitting electromagnetic energy in pulses at a designated target much like taking a photograph.
The electromagnetic energy than interacts with the target through Compton scattering, photo absorption and Rayleigh scattering to compose an image of its target.
The energy output used in x-ray technology allows hard, solid images to be captured but not liquid or really soft properties which make x-rays ideal for bone imaging.
Although it is primarily used for hard, solid images the x-ray technology can be modified to take images of objects that may not be particularly hard in nature such as soft tissue, tumors and other types of abnormal growth within the human body.
Due to the x-rays ability to easily penetrate the body and capture images of hard, solid structures x-rays are also commonly used in highly secured facilities such as airports.
Ultrasound – Ultrasound uses sound technology to detect objects in real-time that are hidden and unable to be seen or observed without the aide of acoustic technology.
Ultrasound works by emitting high frequency sounds that are unable to be heard by the human ear and using the returning sound waves to detect the shape, size, distance & density of an object by displaying it on a monitor which allows the ultrasound technician and other health care professionals to observe the desired object.
Unlike x-ray scans ultrasound technology uses acoustics so it can detect varying degrees of density and solidity within an object much more easily.
Ultrasound technology is often used during pregnancy to observe the health of an unborn child; however it can also be used for other medical purposes.
MRI – MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging and uses nuclear magnetic resonance to create detailed imaged of the human body.
Unlike x-ray or ultrasound technology MRI scans are able to take highly detailed images of the human body and provide significantly more information about its target than an x-ray can.
MRI scans allow the operator to create a 3D image of its subject and observe varying layers of an individual’s anatomy in order to detect abnormalities or issues within the body that may require medical intervention.
MRI’s are particularly useful for scanning brain activity, abnormalities and/or injuries in near real-time in order to determine the health and wellbeing of the individual being observed.
PET – PET stands for Positron Emission Tomography and uses nuclear medical imaging to create three-dimensional images of the human body.
PET scans often use a tracer chemical known as flourodeoxyglucose or FDG which is administered into the blood stream of the host allowing the technician and health care professionals to highlight the part of the body they are interested in observing.
After a short amount of time the tracer chemical begins to decay within the host in order to prevent any health care issues.
Computed Tomography – Computed tomography takes photographic images as slices or layers of a particular area of the body in order to scan and observe a section or region of an area.
This works by creating a series of two-dimensional x-ray images that are cross sectioned from various angles and layered onto one another in order to compose a detailed scan of the designated target.
Computed tomography is often used in head scans in order to identify abnormalities in the brain such as growth tumors or brain injuries as well as being used as a way to map out the human brain and body; however it can be used for other medical purposes as well.
Putting it all together
By using these medical technologies doctors, physicians, practitioners and other health care providers are able to observe the inner body and obtain detailed information about their patients without the need for incisions or other types of invasive procedures and at a fraction of the time and cost.
This allows health care professionals to observe, diagnose, treat and monitor their patient’s condition without putting the patient’s health at risk.
X-rays, ultrasound, MRI scans, PET scans & computed tomography can also be used to create images, 3D models and interactive programs designed to educate and inform students who aspire to become health care professionals and health care providers.
Without the use of radiology both medical costs and issues within patient health care would skyrocket leading to a lower quality of life and complications regarding patient care, medical treatment and recovery.