Medical imaging technology

 

As human beings, we cherish to be happy and healthy. When compared to our ancestors, it is rather unfortunate that we are facing poor health. Poor health could be due to many factors, including the stress of daily life. However, as times have progressed, so has technology, and today we have intuitive medical breakthroughs, including next-gen imaging.

 

To share some statistics related to medical imaging, 49 billion U.S. dollars in expenditure got incurred this year. The medical imaging industry has maintained a growth rate of 7% annually. X-ray constitutes a significant share with the USA amassing maximum share in terms of geography. The market share of the rest of the world is almost minuscule compared to the U.S. and Europe.

 

Medical imaging is the process of rendering parts of the human body either for diagnostics or treatment. The field of medical imaging has grown to the extent that there are companies entirely devoted to building such systems. In this discussion, we will look at existing technologies while giving an insight into upcoming trends.

 

The history of medical imaging

 

Medical imaging has its roots in the year 1895 when Wilhelm Rontgen, a German professor of Physics, invented the X-ray. The principle that X-ray uses hold good even for today’s modern medical marvels. X-ray works when ionizing radiation is transmitted through the body and captured on a photosensitive plate, thereby creating a picture.

 

X-ray paved the way for more imaging innovations. In the early twentieth century, a superior version of the X-ray evolved. Using pharmaceutical contrast agents to generate images, the possibility to view organs and blood vessels got enhanced. All these advances have made the process of diagnostics easier, and there is a lesser probability of performing exploratory surgery.

 

Current medical imaging technologies

 

We can broadly segregate medical imaging technologies as below. This list is not exhaustive, and there could be many other techniques.

 

  • X-ray radiography
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Medical ultrasonography
  • Endoscopy
  • Elastography
  • Tactile imaging
  • Thermography
  • Nuclear medicine functional imaging techniques like positron emission tomography (PET)

 

You must note that not all medical imaging involves generating images. There could be instances where medical imaging could create graphs or maps.

 

We can briefly define each of the medical imaging methods as below.

 

  • X-ray radiography: Uses a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the body’s internal structures.
  • Fluoroscopy: This is a type of medical imaging that shows a continuous X-ray image on a monitor.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): MRI uses a strong magnetic field to create detailed images of the organs within the body. 
  • Medical ultrasonography or ultrasound: Ultrasound gets used to create an image of internal body structures.
  • Endoscopy: Endoscopy is a procedure used to examine a person’s digestive tract without operation.
  • Elastography: Elastography is a medical imaging technique that maps the elastic properties of soft tissue. 
  • Tactile imaging: Tactile Imaging is a medical imaging technique to induce touch into a digital image.
  • Thermography: Thermography is a procedure that uses an infrared device to detect heat patterns in body tissues.
  • PET: The PET scan uses a special dye containing radioactive tracers.

 

Upcoming trends in medical imaging

 

Since non-invasive technology saves so many lives, research into medical imaging is essential. Some of the upcoming trends in medical imaging get summarized below.

 

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Virtual Reality and 3D imaging
  • Nuclear imaging
  • Wearables

 

We can briefly discuss each of the above trends below.

 

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI has the potential to revolutionize medical imaging. AI works by scanning through numerous images quickly while offering insights into a variety of diseases.
  • Virtual Reality and 3D imaging: This technology has allowed physicians to take fragments of MRI pictures to create a 3D image.
  • Nuclear imaging:  These types of scans are particularly helpful when diagnosing thyroid disease, heart conditions, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Wearables: Wearable medical devices like portable brain scanners and MRI gloves would take medical imaging to the next level.

 

Conclusion

 

As you would have already guessed, the field of medical imaging is vast and fulfilling. The best return on investment for medical imaging is the belief that it can save human lives. Medical imaging would continue to evolve, and techniques to battle pathologies will improve. However, as the saying goes, prevention is better than cure; we must strive to keep ourselves healthy

 

Leave a Reply