Thanks to revolutionary technology and advancements in the medical industry, it is possible to easily diagnose complications and problems in the human body with relative ease. Gone are the day when diagnosis of problems and medical complications was vague and doctors used oral interviews and assumptions to try and ascertain what the problem with a patient is. Such revolutionary technology that has really helped transform the medical industry, is the diagnostic imaging.
Diagnostic imaging, is the use of X-Rays, CT Scans and MRIs to look into one’s body and ascertain what the deep underlying problem is. This makes it possible to quickly and accurate diagnose medical conditions and administer the appropriate medication. The diagnostic imaging technologies are however not the same and each has its own way of working. Although they are all considered as diagnostic imaging, they all have different purposes and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we will explore the various imaging technologies in use today, their advantages and disadvantages, where they are suited best and how they work. Here is a detailed look at each of the imaging technologies
These are the oldest form of medical imaging used from as early as 1900. They are a type of electromagnetic radiation that sends individual X-ray particles through the affected part of the body to try and ascertain the exact cause of damage. When the particles pass through the body the denser objects such as bones block radiation appear white on the X-ray film as images. These images are then analysed to try and find out what the problem is.
Where x-rays are most suitable
X-rays are used to diagnose problems and complications which are relatively easy to identify with the plain eye by looking at the images on the X-ray films. They are therefore typically used to capture bone fractures, bone dislocations, infections, tumours in various organs, bone degeneration and bone diseases on film.
Merits and demerits of x-rays
X-rays are the most inexpensive of the three diagnostic procedures. They are therefore available in most medical facilities. The equipment needed for X-rays are not as expensive as well and more facilities are affording the same today. They however have a few disadvantages. Yes, they may be cheap and accessible but they won’t provide as much detail as a CT scan or MRI. The images provided don’t give as much detail about a complication or bone problem. If the problem is not big enough therefore for the X-ray to capture, there may be need for the other means of imaging to be employed.
A Computer Tomography scan or CT scan as we know it, is a combination of X-ray images taken from different angles and powerful computers used to process the images to produce a comprehensive cross-sectional image to assess the different structures within your body, such as tissues and organs. It is more complex and provides more details than X-rays.
Where CT Scans are used
A CT scan is used to examine minute blood vessels, soft tissues, and organs to pinpoint infections, masses, clots, and brain tumours. Thanks to its accuracy and ability to pick up even the smallest of details, CT scans are ideal for detecting bone injuries and diagnosing cancer.
Merits and demerits of CT Scans
They produce images with better details and are more accurate therefore. This means that the medical doctor can comprehensively asses the problem and offer the right medication. On the flipside though, they are very expensive and even the equipment needed to set up the CT scans are very expensive to purchase.
MRI- Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI as we popularly refer to it as, is considered to be the best tool for examining soft tissues in ligament and tendon injuries, spinal cord injuries, and brain tumours. It captures high-resolution images of these type of abnormalities using strong magnetic fields and radio waves.
Where are MRI Scans used?
MRI scans are ideal in diagnosing complications which both the XRays and CT scans can’t quite pinpoint. These include problems in the soft tissues, in ligaments, tendons and in parts of the brain. They produce more detailed and clear images compared to the other two available imaging techniques. They can’t be used to diagnose pregnant women and people with metallic implants as well.
Merits and demerits of MRI scans
MRI scans are highly accurate and provide very detailed images. The images are clear and easy to interpret. On the other hand though they are very expensive. They actually are the most expensive when you compare them with the other imaging technologies available. CT scans are significantly less expensive than MRIs, with CT scans ranging anywhere from $400 to $3000, while MRIs can cost up to $4000. Procuring the equipment required is pretty expensive as well. They are very noisy as well when they are in operation.