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Technology Used In Digital Medical Imaging

written by: Angela Atkinson•edited by: lrohner•updated: 7/31/2008

There are many forms of technology used in digital medical imaging, the most common are electron microscopy, fluoroscopy, MRI, nuclear medicine, projection radiography, CT and ultrasound. j

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    There is a large variety of technology used in the digital medical imaging field. These technologies can do amazing things and in fact, have been used in helping to diagnose many medical conditions, and used to plan for treatments, surgeries, and other medical procedures. Over the years, digital medical imaging technology has become more and more advanced, and physicians can now see parts of the human body in greater detail than ever before, and this technology continues to evolve and progress. The most widely used forms of digital medical imaging technology are Electron microscopy, Fluoroscopy, Magnetic Resonance imaging (MRI), Nuclear medicine, Projection Radiography, Computed Tomography (CT), and Ultrasound.

    Electron microscopy is used in anatomic pathology, which purpose is to identify organelles within the cells. One of it's most useful benefits is the ability to help diagnose kidney disease. The main instrument used is the electron microscope, which is extremely powerful and can magnify very small details.

    Fluoroscopy creates real-time images of internal structures in the body, with the instrument known as the fluoroscope. Some common procedures using this technology are orthopaedic surgery, urological surgery, and angiopraphy.

    MRI is used most commonly in Radiology, to provide visuals of the structure and function of the body. It is especially useful in brain imaging, and can help diagnose brain tumors. It also very helpful in finding other forms of cancers in the human body, as well. The MRI scanner works by using powerful magnets, without the negative side effects of radiation. However, since this technology has only been widely used since the early 1980's, the long-term effects of exposure aren't completely known yet.

    Nuclear medicine employs the use of gamma cameras. These cameras are used to detect areas of biological activity, that are usually associated with diseases.

    Projection radiography uses radiographs (more commonly referred to as x-rays), and are typically used to identify bone fractures, as well as changes n the lungs. These can also be employed to provide visuals of the stomach along with intestinal area, which can help diagnose ulcers even colon cancer.

    CT is an important technology used in medical imaging, because of it's ability to help diagnose a large number of different diseases. In recent years, CT scans have also been used in preventive medicine, such as for people with a high risk for colon cancer. Unfortunately, CT scans are also known to give off moderate to high amounts of radiation, which could give an additional risk for cancer. MRI's and Ultrasounds can be used for alternatives, however they may not be able to detect some problem areas, which the CT scan could.

    Finally, there is medical ultrasonopgraphy, which uses the method known simply as the "ultrasound". The ultrasound is most widely used to provide a visual of the fetus in a pregnant woman. However, ultrasounds have other important uses as well. For example, it can be used to provide images of the heart, abdominal organs, testicles, and veins in the leg. Even though an ultrasound, may not provide as much anatomical information as an MRI or CT, it has the advantage of being to show moving images in real-time, and it's also very safe to use, since the patient is not exposed to radiation.