Radiology, also known as diagnostic imaging, is the branch of medicine that specializes in treating and diagnosing injuries and diseases using medical imaging techniques. There are two areas of radiology procedures. They are:
(1) Diagnostic Radiology:
The diagnostic radiology technique uses high-energy radiation, sound, or radio waves to take images of tissues and structures inside your body. Doctors use them to assess the condition of your internal organs without having to perform an exploratory surgery to look inside of your body to make a diagnosis.
These procedures allow a doctor to determine
- When surgeries are necessary
- The need for exploratory surgeries
- The treatment plan for the patient
Some most common types of diagnostic radiology exams include
- Computed Tomography: CT Scans combine the use of X-rays and computers to generate 2D or 3D images of your bones, soft tissues, internal organs, and blood vessels. CT scans enable your doctor to detect conditions such as cancers and brain strokes.
- Fluoroscopy: It uses X-ray beams and medically approved radioactive or other substances called a fluoroscope to track the movements of the internal organs on a monitor. These substances are given to the patient in the form of a drink, paste, pill, or injection. This procedure allows the doctor to track the movement of their internal organs such as the heart or intestines, observe the flow of blood, and guide catheters into specific locations inside the body.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): It combines strong magnetic fields and computer-generated radio waves to create detailed images of the body’s internal organs and other tissues. MRI is used to diagnose strokes, tumors, multiple sclerosis, disorders in the eyes or ears, brain injuries, etc.
- Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA): It combines the use of magnetic fields, computer-generated radio waves, and a fluoroscope to diagnose abnormalities in the blood vessels. The fluoroscope is injected intravenously.
- Mammography: It uses a low dose of X-rays to diagnose abnormalities inside the breasts.
- Nuclear Medicine: It involves injecting a radioactive substance that accumulates in the area of the body to be examined. It’s used to diagnose cancers, infections, bone fractures, cardiac angina, and lesions in the thyroid glands. The radioactive substance emit radiation in the form of gamma rays which are detected using highly sophisticated medical cameras.
- X-rays: It is a form of high-energy electromagnetic radiation that can pass through most soft objects, including the body. They are used to generate images of tissues and bones inside the body.
- Positron Emission Tomography: It combines nuclear medicine and biochemical analysis. PET helps doctors visualize and measure biochemical changes inside the body.
- Ultrasound: It uses sound waves to generate pictures of tissues and organs inside the body.
(2) Interventional Radiology
In interventional radiology, doctors use medical imaging techniques to guide minimally invasive surgical procedures such as inserting catheters, wires, or other small medical instruments or tools into your body.
Interventional radiology methods are used in the following medical procedures:
- Stent placement
- Image-guided biopsies
- Image-guided thermal ablation
- Feeding tube placement
These image-guided medical procedures help doctors treat conditions such as stroke, cancer, and uterine fibroids. These procedures are usually less painful and have less recovery time than traditional surgery.