(English) Overview of Popular Imaging Diagnostics Tools

At International Medical Clinics (IMC) we have on-site access to imaging technology. This allows us to diagnose and treat most issues faster than other practices that rely on third party imaging providers.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.

MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal body structures. The images can then be examined on a computer monitor, transmitted electronically, printed or copied to a CD. MRI does not use ionizing radiation (x-rays).

Detailed MR images allow physicians to better evaluate various parts of the body and determine the presence of certain diseases that may not be assessed adequately with other imaging methods such as x-ray, ultrasound or computed tomography (also called CT Scan or CAT scanning).

What are some common uses of the procedure?

MR imaging of the body is performed to evaluate:

  • organs of the chest and abdomen—including the heart, liverbiliary tractkidneys,spleen, bowel, pancreas and adrenal glands.
  • pelvic organs including the reproductive organs in the male (prostate and testicles) and the female (uterus, cervix and ovaries).
  • blood vessels (MR Angiography).
  • breasts.
  • Physicians use the MR examination to help diagnose or monitor treatment for conditions such as:
  • tumors of the chest, abdomen or pelvis.
  • certain types of heart problems.
  • blockages or enlargements of blood vessels, including the aorta, renal arteries, and arteries in the legs.
  • diseases of the liver, such as cirrhosis, and that of other abdominal organs, including the bile ducts, gallbladder, and pancreatic ducts.
  • diseases of the small intestine, colon, and rectum
  • cysts and solid tumors in the kidneys and other parts of the urinary tract.
  • tumors and other abnormalities of the reproductive organs (e.g., uterus, ovaries, testicles, prostate).
  • causes of pelvic pain in women, such as fibroids, endometriosis and adenomyosis.
  • suspected uterine congenital abnormalities in women undergoing evaluation for infertility.
  • breast cancer and implants.

How does the procedure work? 

Unlike conventional x-ray examinations and computed tomography (CT) scans, MRI does not depend on ionizing radiation. Instead, while in the magnet, radio waves redirect the axes of spinning protons, which are the nuclei of hydrogen atoms, in a strong magnetic field.
The magnetic field is produced by passing an electric current through wire coils in most MRI units. Other coils, located in the machine and in some cases, placed around the part of the body being imaged, send and receive radio waves, producing signals that are detected by the coils.

A computer then processes the signals and generates a series of images each of which shows a thin slice of the body. The images can then be studied from different angles by the interpreting physician.

Overall, the differentiation of abnormal (diseased) tissue from normal tissues is often better with MRI than with other imaging modalities such as x-ray, CT and ultrasound.

CT Scanning

CT scanning—sometimes called CT Scans or CAT scanning—is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.

CT scans combines special x-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body. These cross-sectional images of the area being studied can then be examined on a computer monitor, printed or transferred to a CD.

CT scans of internal organs, bones, soft tissue and blood vessels provide greater clarity and reveal more details than regular x-ray exams.

Using specialized equipment and expertise to create and interpret CT scans of the body, radiologists can more easily diagnose problems such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, appendicitis, trauma and musculoskeletal disorders.

What are the most common uses of the procedure?

A CT Scan is:

  • one of the best and fastest tools for studying the chest, abdomen and pelvis because it provides detailed, cross-sectional views of all types of tissue.
  • often the preferred method for diagnosing many different cancers, including lung, liver, kidney and pancreatic cancer, since the image allows a physician to confirm the presence of a tumor and measure its size, precise location and the extent of the tumor’s involvement with other nearby tissue.
  • an examination that plays a significant role in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of vascular diseases that can lead to stroke, kidney failure or even death. A CT Scan is commonly used to assess for pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lung vessels) as well as for abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA).
  • invaluable in diagnosing and treating spinal problems and injuries to the hands, feet and other skeletal structures because it can clearly show even very small bones as well as surrounding tissues such as muscle and blood vessels.

In pediatric patients, CT is ocassionally used to diagnose tumors of the lung or pancreas as well as abdominal aortic aneurysms. For children, CT imaging is more often used to evaluate:

  • lymphoma
  • neuroblastoma
  • kidney tumors
  • congenital malformations of the heart, kidneys and blood vessels
  • Physicians often use the CT examination to:
  • quickly identify injuries to the lungs, heart and vessels, liver, spleen, kidneys, bowel or other internal organs in cases of trauma.
  • guide biopsies and other procedures such as abscess drainages and minimally invasive tumor treatments.
  • plan for and assess the results of surgery, such as organ transplants or gastric bypass.
  • stage, plan and properly administer radiation treatments for tumors as well as monitor response to chemotherapy.
  • measure bone mineral density for the detection of osteoporosis.

In many ways CT scanning works very much like other x-ray examinations. X-rays are a form of radiation—like light or radio waves—that can be directed at the body. Different body parts absorb the x-rays in varying degrees.

In a conventional x-ray exam, a small burst of radiation is aimed at and passes through the body, recording an image on photographic film or a special image recording plate. Bones appear white on the x-ray; soft tissue shows up in shades of gray and air appears black.

With CT scanning, numerous x-ray beams and a set of electronic x-ray detectors rotate around you, measuring the amount of radiation being absorbed throughout your body. At the same time, the examination table is moving through the scanner, so that the x-ray beam follows a spiral path. A special computer program processes this large volume of data to create two-dimensional cross-sectional images of your body, which are then displayed on a monitor. This technique is called helical or spiral CT.

CT imaging is sometimes compared to looking into a loaf of bread by cutting the loaf into thin slices. When the image slices are reassembled by computer software, the result is a very detailed multidimensional view of the body’s interior.

Refinements in detector technology allow new CT scanners to obtain multiple slices in a single rotation. These scanners, called “multi-slice CT” or “multi-detector CT,” allow thinner slices to be obtained in a shorter period of time, resulting in more detail and additional view capabilities.

Modern CT scanners are so fast that they can scan through large sections of the body in just a few seconds. Such speed is beneficial for all patients but especially children, the elderly and critically ill.

For children, the CT scanner technique will be adjusted to reduce the radiation dose.

For some CT exams, a contrast material is used to enhance visibility in the area of the body being studied.

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