Radiology and Diagnostics
Radiology deals with the use of ionizing and nonionizing radiations for diagnosis and treatment of diseases. It is the study of images in the body.
Some of the radiology procedures include:
X-rays are waves of electromagnetic energy. X-rays are the most common and widely employed diagnostic imaging technique. X-rays produce a still picture of bones and organs. X-rays are especially useful in the detection of pathology of the skeletal system, but are also useful for detecting some disease processes in soft tissue. X-rays emitted from the instrument are blocked by dense tissues such as bone and these portions appear white on the image. Metal and special dye used to focus areas of the body will also appear white.
Ultrasound imaging is a common diagnostic medical procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce dynamic images (sonograms) of organs, tissues, or blood flow inside the body.
Ultrasonography (Sonography) is widely used in medicine. It is possible to perform both diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, using ultrasound to guide interventional procedures. Sonographers are medical professionals who perform scans for diagnostic purposes. Sonographers typically use a hand-held probe (called a transducer) that is placed directly on and moved over the patient. A water-based gel is used to couple the ultrasound between the transducer and patient.
Medical sonography (Ultrasonography) is used in the treatments for various conditions of heart, endocrine system, gastrointestinal system, obstetrics &gynecologic conditions, eye, kidneys, musculoskeletal system, tendons, muscles, nerves, and bone surfaces.
Lab work is often needed to aid in diagnosis, which your physician may order to provide detailed information that is not acquired simply by a physical examination. Lab work helps in diagnosing and monitoring the health condition of the individual.
Lab work involves laboratory testing of biological samples obtained from the patient to generate data, for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of disease condition and health assessment of the individual. Biological samples include blood, urine, body fluids, tissues, and other specific substances, that indicate the physiological functioning of different organs of our body.
Ingested food or digestion process may influence the results of certain tests. Hence fasting prior to such tests is required for precise results. Fasting duration depends upon the type of test, such as 6 hour fasting for blood sugar test whereas for triglycerides or lipid level tests, 12 hour fasting is required for accurate results.
Lab work involves the use of advanced computerized laboratory equipment, so as to insure the accuracy and consistency of the test results. In addition lab work is supervised by certain experts having knowledge of both normal physiology and pathological conditions, in an attempt tovalidate the test results. Lab work can be categorized in different clinical sections such as hematology, chemistry, immunology, bacteriology, mycology, parasitology, or urinalysis.
Consecutively, to ensure the best diagnosis and treatment, lab work should be of a high quality and standard.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI Stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. MRI is a way of getting pictures of various parts of your body without the use of X-rays. Unlike X-rays and computed tomographic (CT) scans, which use radiation, a MRI uses powerful magnets and radio waves. A radio wave antenna is used to send signals to the body and then receive signals back.
These returning signals are converted into pictures by a computer attached to the scanner. Pictures of almost any part of your body can be obtained at almost any particular angle.
MRI is quite safe in the majority of patients. Certain patients may not be able to have an MRI. These include people who get nervous in small spaces (claustrophobic) and those with implanted medical devices such as aneurysm clips in the brain, heart pacemakers and cochlear (inner ear) implants.
Also, people with pieces of metal close to or in an important organ (such as the eye) may not be scanned. There are a few additional safety considerations and some exceptions based on individual circumstances.
This test may be used to diagnose or evaluate:
- Abnormal growths and tumors
- Blood flow
- Blood vessels
- Lymph nodes
- rgan function
Combining MRIs with other imaging methods can often help the doctor make a more definitive diagnosis. MRI images taken after a special dye (contrast) is delivered into the body may provide additional information about the blood vessels. An abdominal MRI provides detailed pictures of the belly area from many different views.
It is often used to clarify findings from previous X-rays or CT scans. A pad is placed on the patient’s abdomen to help make the pictures clearer. MRI can distinguish tumors from normal tissues and can help the doctor determine the tumor’s size, severity, and spread. This is called staging.
Advantages & Dis-Advantages
Advantages of MRI include diagnosing:
- Strokes in their earliest stages
- Brain and pituitary tumors
- Spine, or joint infections
- Visualizing torn ligaments in the wrist, knee, and ankle
- Visualizing shoulder injuries
- Herniated discs in the spine
MRI also has disadvantages. These include:
- People with pacemakers cannot have MRIs.
- Patients who are morbidly obese may not fit into an MRI system.
- Claustrophobic patients often cannot make it through a MRI. These patients may require sedatives or an Open MRI which is an MRI system that is not completely closed around the patient.
- The MRI machine makes a tremendous amount of noise during a scan. The noise sounds like a continual, rapid hammering. The noise is due to the rising electrical current in the wires of the gradient magnets being opposed by the main magnetic field. The stronger the main field, the louder the gradient noise. Patients are given earplugs or stereo headphones to muffle the noise.
- MRI scans require patients to hold still for extended periods of time. MRI exams can range in length from 20 minutes to 90 minutes or more.
- MRI systems are very expensive. Therefore the exams are also very expensive.
- Lastly, people with kidney disease, dialysis patients, or people who didn’t know they had kidney disease are at high risk to develop an incurable condition called Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF) from the MRI dye injection gadolinium. NSF causes a hardening or stiffening of the skin and joints.
Preparation for MRI Test
Before your MRI test, tell your health professional and the MRI technologist if you:
- Are allergic to any medicines.
- If you are or might be pregnant.
- If you wear any jewelry, eyeglasses, hearing aids, hairpins, removable dental work or other objects that may interfere with the procedure.
- Have any other health conditions, such as kidney problems that may prevent you from having an MRI using contrast material.
- Had recent surgery on a blood vessel. In some cases you may not be able to have the MRI test.
- Wear any medication patches. The MRI may cause a burn at the patch site.
- For an MRI of the abdomen, you may be asked not to eat or drink for several hours before the test.
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