One of the great benefits of the digitized hospital workplace is the ease and the speed with which X-rays and scans can now be transmitted from a radiologist’s lab to the office of the physician who will be treating a patient. Before this advance, patients had to wait days, sometimes weeks, for physicians to receive scans necessary to confirm diagnoses. PACS medical imaging software has the potential to help save patients’ lives.
What Is Medical Imaging?
Medical imaging is a group of technologies that permit diagnosticians to look at representations of organs, bones and other structures beneath the skin. There are many different types of medical imaging:
- X-rays: X-rays are waves of electromagnetic radiation that are used to create two-dimensional images. X-rays are still widely used in dentistry but have been superseded in many other medical contexts by more sophisticated imaging technologies.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs): MRIs use powerful magnets and radio frequencies that excite hydrogen nuclei bound to molecules within the human body to create three-dimensional images of the body’s interior. MRIs are used to diagnose everything from torn ligaments to brain tumors.
- Positron emission technology (PET scans): PET scans use radiotracers, which are infinitesimal doses of radioactive chemicals, to examine organs and tissues under the skin. PET scans are typically used to detect brain and central nervous system disorders, heart issues and cancer.
- Computed tomography scans (CT scans): CT scans compile a number of X-rays with the help of a computer, which then takes a sagittal slice of the resulting image. CT scans are frequently used by surgeons who want to get a good look at a lesion before they prepare to operate.
Is Medical Imaging Safe?
In 2017, more than 800 million CT scans were performed in hospital around the U.S. Physicians agree that the benefits of these scans far outweigh the risks that can be associated with the use of radiation. Medical imaging procedures are safe, but a wise physician understands that they should only be used in situations where a course of treatment may depend upon what that physician sees when he or she looks at a scan.