Radiology is a method of using imaging for diagnostic purposes and the treatment of illnesses. As established by NASA, this branch of medicine began in 1895 when Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen made the discovery of the X-ray. Since then, numerous advances in the field have been made, and the simple technology of the x-ray radiography has been expanded upon. Now, radiology includes many technologically advanced imaging systems, such as ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRIs.

X-Ray Radiography

X-Ray radiography is primarily used in diagnostic cases where pictures of the bones/teeth are necessary, like with broken bones and dental procedures. An x-ray is performed by shooting a small dose of ionizing radiation through part of a person’s body. Because bones absorb radiation at a higher degree than the skin, muscles, and organs surrounding it, a picture is formed of the bones by detecting the amount of radiation that passes through the area being looked at. Before, these images were produced by using x-ray sensitive paper. Today, these images are formed by electronic devices that detect the radiation as it passes through the body such as enterprise imaging technology, and they are stored as digital files that can be read on most systems.

CT Scans

X-ray radiography has a number of limitations, so other techniques had to be discovered. One of these limitations is that it only gives a two-dimensional view of bones, and it only shows a portion of the body at a time. CT scans help to do away with these limitations by using computer technology. According to the Mayo Clinic, CTs, which stands for computerized tomography, combine multiple x-rays that have been taken from different angles. These x-rays are then taken and combined with computer software to give a complete and more detailed view of the bones in a patient’s body.

MRIs

In contrast to x-rays and CT scans, MRIs do not use doses of radiation to image the inside of a patient. MRIs, which stands for magnetic resonance imaging, uses a combination of radio waves and a strong magnetic field to create images of most things inside of the body, such as tissues and organs. This is done by creating a temporary magnetic field in a patient’s body by passing an electrical current through coiled wires. Then, radio waves are sent through the patient’s body, which are detected by an electronic receiver in the machine. The difference in radio wave emission from parts of the body allows for a detailed image to be created.

Ultrasounds

Ultrasounds are another tool in the world of radiology. They use high-frequency sound waves to form images of organs and other tissues in the body. These sound waves are passed through a patient’s body. These waves bounce off of the tissues and are reflected back, where they are picked up by an electronic device. The signal that is picked up is then converted into an image of the area being looked at. As opposed to regular x-rays and other forms of radiology, ultrasounds are considered quite safe and painless. This is why they are the main tool used to image a fetus during pregnancy.

Medical Imaging Technology

Despite the differing forms of imaging used in radiology, they all have one thing in common: the need to be safely stored in digital formats that are easily read by most systems. This is why vendor neutral archives (VNAs) are used to store these important medical files. A VNA creates a standard interface that can read all files, from radiological images to a patient’s chart. These systems also create backups of the data in separate areas, usually a form of cloud storage, so if one place is compromised, the files will still exist in another. VNAs are an essential tool in the branch of radiology.

Radiology is a diverse branch of medicine that uses advanced technology to create images of the inside of a patient’s body. From its start in 1895 to today, it has helped diagnose and treat an unprecedented number of patients. Without it, many people would have suffered needlessly. Radiology is an important branch of medicine that deserves recognition for all of the lives it has saved over the years.

 

By: Jennifer Livingston