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4 Common Types of Medical Scans

Medical technology has come a long way over the years. And with cancer cases expected to increase 50% worldwide before 2030, medical professionals are working harder than ever to develop new and improved technology and treatment methods. One area that has seen vast improvement over the years is medical scanning. Medical scans allow physicians to get a closer look at the inside of patients’ bodies for both diagnosis and therapeutic purposes. In doing this, they can then see if there is a problem, like a broken bone or tumor, that needs to be addressed. There are four main types of medical imaging.

X-Ray Imaging: X-ray imaging has been around since the late 1890s and it’s still one of the most frequently used types of medical imaging. As a form of electromagnetic radiation, this scan uses radiation wavelengths to penetrate through a patient’s skin. This scanning technique can be used to detect broken bones, cancer, and other medical problems. It’s often used for emergency medical care to provide physicians with a quick look inside a patient. However, patients are exposed to radiation during this scan so it’s only used when absolutely necessary.

Ultrasound: As one of the most cost-effective types of medical scanning, ultrasound is commonly the first option for imaging purposes. It’s also associated with very low harmful effects, making it the top choice for pregnancy scans. Ultrasound uses sound waves to penetrate the body through conducting gel to create an image. It’s extremely easy and safe to use to gain further insight into what’s going on in a specific area of the body and is a common tool in emergency medical care.

Computerized Tomography (CT): CT scans, also called CAT scans, are used to create a 3D picture of a patient’s body. Using x-rays, a CT scanner can produce cross-sectional images by having the x-ray source and a detector rotate around the patient’s entire body. Putting these images together, physicians are then able to see more detailed images of organs, bones, and tissue within a patient’s body. These scans may be used on patients who come into the emergency room and physicians need a clearer image of what’s going on.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Unlike CT scans, MRI scans don’t use any form of radiation. MRI scans use a magnetic field and radio waves to penetrate even further into body parts than other scans are able to. Because of this ability, this method of imaging can be used to look at internal body structures to look for tumors, spinal cord injuries, and issues with brain function. But because strong magnets are used, this scan can be dangerous for those with any kind of metal implant in their body.

Medical scanning is used in emergency clinics, cardiovascular centers, and numerous other medical institutions around the world. They provide an irreplaceable service. By being able to gain better insight into a patient’s body, physicians can better diagnose and treat them.

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