The phrase “diagnostic imaging” can refer to a variety of non-invasive processes that doctors use to see inside a patient’s body. In other words, they are processes that let doctors see inside without cutting the patient. Most people find that diagnostic imaging works well for them because the methods are quicker and less painful than exploratory surgery.
Popular Types of Diagnostic Imaging
Some of the most popular types of diagnostic imaging include:
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans
- CT (computer tomography) scans
- Nuclear medicine scans
- PET (positron emission tomography) scans
Advantages and Disadvantages of Diagnostic Imaging Methods
Each method has its own advantages and disadvantage. X-rays, for instance, are extremely fast. Doctors can often make and review X-rays within the same visit. This helps them diagnose problems quickly.
X-rays also have limitations. Since soft tissues don’t absorb x-rays very well, doctors usually have difficulty spotting torn ligaments and similar problems. X-rays are also limited to black-and-white images. They’re great for finding broken bones, but they aren’t useful when it comes to diagnosing less obvious problems, such as brain disorders.
An MRI makes images with magnet and radio waves. This lets doctors diagnose conditions that are invisible to X-rays. Doctors often use MRIs to find torn ligaments and brain abnormalities. It’s a more flexible approach that provides a detailed look inside of patient’s problem areas.
MRI imaging is an effective way to diagnose a wide range of conditions, but even it has its disadvantages. MRIs usually take 30 minutes. Some are done within 10 minutes. Others take as long as 90 minutes to complete. Patients need to remain as still as possible during the scan since moving can blur the image and make it difficult to see abnormalities.
Diagnostic Imaging for Patients
When patients ask “What does diagnostic imaging mean?” they usually feel a sigh of relief when they learn that it’s a non-invasive option for exploring the body’s interior. Doctors should have enough experience to decide which option meets the patient’s needs best. That way, the doctor and patient can limit the number of tests without done without limiting themselves to necessary information.
If you want to learn more about diagnostic imaging, the available options, or the strengths and weaknesses of various techniques, feel free to contact us. We’re happy to give you the information you need to make smart choices for your health.