“My doctor has advised me an MRI? I believe it’s really scary. Some large machine which makes loads of noise and is very painful?” said a worried Reena. Like Reena there are many who react in a similar way when doctors prescribe tests such as MRIs, X-rays, CT-scan. The medical field has progressed with a number of technological advancements that help making the diagnosis easier.
Medical imaging is the name given to the technique to create images of body parts for clinical purposes. According to Dr B Murali, senior consultant radiologist, Care Hospital, “Medical imaging technology includes X-rays, ultrasound, CT scans, MRI and PET scan. These technologies have helped doctors have a clearer picture of the inner organs.”
“Medical imagery started with X-ray. X-ray helped doctors see the bones more clearly,” states Dr MC Balaji, radiologist, Focus Diagnostics. Dr Murali adds that the use of X-ray has come down. He says, “They are being used now for basic diagnosis such as when a person comes in with fever. It depends on the requirements. X-rays are cheaper than most other forms of testing.”
CT stands for Computer Tomography. This is the process to create a two dimensional image out of a slice or a section of a three dimensional image. “CT scan allows us to take multiple images of one unit and put it together. The disadvantages are its cost and radiation involved. But on the other hand the images are of good quality and provide complete information,” says Dr Murali. The dose of radiation is usually minimum and it can be controlled based on the person’s age. Pregnant women are always advised against getting such scans done. Dr Balaji adds that people are advised against more than three CT scans a year.
A latest advancement in CT scans is the MDCT which provide multiple images in a matter of a few seconds.
“An ultrasound is usually advised if a person comes in with symptoms such as pain in the abdomen. This involves no radiation and is done with the help of ultrasound waves. Ultrasound is usually something that can be done in an emergency,” Dr Murali explains. “Apart from the stomach they may also be done when there is a swelling in other body parts as well as pregnancy where it helps detecting any anomolies in the pregnancy, says Dr Balaji.
According to Dr Balaji, “MRI stands for magnetic resonance imagery. MRIs do not involve any kind of radiation and the images are superior than a CT scan.” Dr Murali adds, “An MRI is quite safe. It’s just the magnet which creates the noise. MRI is usually done for the brain and spine.” There are certain cases in which an MRI cannot be done says Dr Balaji, “People who have pacemakers or any electronic implants cannot get an MRI done.”
CT PET scan
“CT PET is a combination of radiology and nuclear medicine and it is used mainly in the field of oncology,” says Dr Murali. These allow doctors to view each cell and helps them understand whether they are alive, dead or multiplying in an abnormal manner.
A number of technological advancements have been seen in this field which sees people working towards making the detection and prevention of diseases much more easier.