The rapid advances in clinical radiology technology and theory have dramatically improved the diagnosis and treatment of illness and injury.
Clinical radiology has a range of benefits for the patient:
- It can eliminate the need for exploratory surgery.
- It is used to determine when a patient needs surgery.
- It assists in making a diagnosis and further management of most body conditions
- Interventional radiology, which involves treatment as well as diagnosis, involves less risk, a shorter recovery time and less time in hospital than open surgery or key-hole (laparoscopic) surgery.
- It is used to visually guide the treatment of conditions such as heart disease and stroke.
- It is used in screening for diseases such as breast cancer (mammography), with early detection reducing the mortality rate.
- It improves cancer diagnosis and is also an effective treatment for cancer and other diseases (known as radiation oncology or radiation therapy).
Different radiological procedures have different advantages.
CT (computed tomography) scans visualise the inside of the body in great detail and can eliminate the need for exploratory surgery. CT makes use of computer-processed combinations of many X-ray images taken from different angles to produce cross-sectional (tomographic) images – or ‘virtual slices’ of specific areas of a scanned object. CT scans are accurate, fast and painless.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans produce three-dimensional images of soft tissues such as organs and muscles that don’t appear on X-rays. MRI technology uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create pictures of the body. One MRI scan can produce many (sometimes hundreds) of images which can be stored on computer or printed on film.
Nuclear medicine scans are used in diagnosis and to see how internal organs are functioning.
A PET (positron emission tomography) scan is a nuclear medicine imaging test which involves injecting a small amount of liquid radioactive material into the body. PET can detect cancer in the body at an earlier stage than CT or MRI scans.
Ultrasound imaging is safe, quick and easy to perform and does not use any radiation. It’s frequently used in pregnancy to monitor the baby’s development. 3-D ultrasound produces a static 3-D image of the baby, while 4-D ultrasound produces a moving image.
X-rays, also known as plain radiography, have been used as a diagnostic tool for over 100 years. They are painless, fast, and non-invasive. X-rays are used to diagnose bone and joint-related conditions such as fractures and dislocations.
Last saved on 14 October 2016.