Diagnostic Imaging: The Basics

DiagnosticImagingOver the last several years, diagnostic imaging procedures have become more commonplace, even for seemingly simple injuries. Diagnostic imaging includes x-rays, MRIs and CT Scans. While there are various other imaging procedures, these are the most common. The most basic of these is the x-ray, which uses radiation to take a ‘picture’ of a body part. The results, which we have all seen as the film that the doctor places on a light panel, is basically a shadow created by the radiation passing through the tissue and bone, The denser the tissue or bone, the less radiation is able to pass through it, thus producing the image.

CT scans and MRIs are more complex and allow the doctors better images by which to view soft tissue in a non-invasive manner. It should also be noted that neither uses radiation in the process. CT Scans create a detailed cross section of the body, using Computed Tomography, resulting in better detail and contrast than the x-ray. MRIs produce the most detailed image using ‘Magnetic Resonance’. Depending on the body part being imaged, these procedures can take anywhere from 1 to 20 minutes. Originally intended to image the spine and brain, MRIs are now used to evaluate almost any part of the body, allowing doctor a better look inside the body than ever before.