Medical Imaging Explained: What patients need to know

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Imaging uses a range of tests to produce visual representations of different parts of the body. These tests are widely used for a number of reasons including:

  • Diagnose the cause of existing symptoms
  • Screen the body for possible health conditions before symptoms appear
  • Monitor and check the progress of health conditions that were diagnosed and undergoing treatment.

Radiology is also another term used for imaging and it includes different procedures such as X-rays, CT scans, MRI, and ultrasound. Each procedure uses a different type of technology to produce images. These images are extremely useful in providing accurate treatment and diagnosis. Indeed, with this technology, medicine has greatly advanced over the years.

Is imaging a good fit for every patient?

All medical procedures are carefully selected depending on the medical condition of the patient. A doctor will not recommend a scan if it’s not necessary. The first thing that a doctor needs to do is check your medical history to determine whether a particular test is suitable. Whether the scan is performed at a hospital or a special clinic offering private scans in London, for example, each medical decision will also involve weighing the benefits versus the potential risks of a procedure. In general, an imaging test is likely to be recommended only when it will help with diagnosis and proper management of your health condition or injury.

Different types of imaging procedures

Medical practitioners agree that one type of imaging test is no better than the other. Each procedure is done depending on which part of the body needs to be checked as well as the corresponding medical condition that needs a diagnosis. For example, MRI is widely used to detect soft tissue damage. A CT scan cannot produce the required imaging that can show damage in ligaments and tendons. A CT scan, on the other hand, has the ability to scan patients with metallic implants, one thing that limits an MRI scan.

Patients are extremely concerned with possible risks involved with imaging procedures. Yes, there is exposure to radiation but it’s extremely minimal. However, for precaution, it is not recommended to expose patients to repetitive imaging procedures.

Talking to your doctor about imaging procedures

Patients may often feel intimidated about asking their doctor too many questions when recommended to undergo a certain medical procedure. Asking questions is necessary because every patient needs to be well-informed before agreeing to any procedure. What are some questions you can ask your doctor next time you are asked to undergo a medical procedure such as imaging or a scan?

  • Ask the doctor for details on how the procedure helps the treatment of your illness.
  • Whether the risks are minimal or significant, always ask your doctor if there is anything you need to know.
  • Check for alternative procedures.
  • Ask if there is a side-effect if you disagree with the procedure.

Gather all the necessary information because it can also help you feel less anxious about it. Remember that working closely with your doctor helps them provide you with the best possible care needed.