What are medical imaging techniques
Medical Imaging Technology Today And Where It's Going
When you hear the term 'medical education' the first image that comes to mind is that of an x-ray, or an x-ray as it is more commonly known. While x-rays are the oldest and still most widely used method of medical imaging, there is much more to be found in this fascinating and innovative field of science today. In this article, we attempt to review the current state of affairs and the latest advances in medical imaging technology, and to outline areas where major breakthroughs are expected in the not-too-distant future.
The term “medical imaging technology” has a broad definition and includes any technique that enables healthcare professionals to view the inside of the body or areas that are not visible to the naked eye. The visualization of these structures can help with the diagnosis of diseases, treatment planning, treatment execution - for example through image-guided interventions, monitoring and surveillance.
The vast scope of medical diagnostics - what it entails
Today medical imaging is an integral part of disease diagnosis and management. The earliest form of diagnostic medical imaging was that X-ray unit introduced by Roentgen in 1895. X-ray imaging has come a long way since then, and traditional X-rays are quickly being replaced by computed tomography (CT), which combines the power of computer processing with X-ray imaging. CT scanners take images in three different planes. CT technology itself has refined over the years. The thickness of the image slices has been reduced and the spiral CT has arrived, which drastically shortens the image acquisition time.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) emerged in the late 20th century, at a time when concerns about radiation exposure during medical imaging were at a peak. This imaging system uses natural magnetic fields to capture images of internal body structures. Although MRI initially had limited diagnostic use, improvements in equipment have made it the imaging modality of choice for soft tissues and vascular structures. Newer MRI machines are compact and open devices that no longer make patients feel claustrophobic.
Sonography is another imaging modality that does not use radiation. It uses reflected sound waves to paint a picture of internal organs. A big advantage of ultrasound is its portability. It has gained widespread medical uses such as bedside examinations, vascular structure examination, and obstetrics for evaluating fetal health.
Other advanced medical imaging techniques have harnessed the power of nuclear radioisotopes. ThePositron Emission Tomography (PET) allows radioactively labeled molecules such as glucose to be taken up by body tissues. They are then recognized by sensors and their distribution provides information on the diagnosis. The introduction of contrast media has led to site-specific imaging like CT angiographyguided. X-ray marked material is injected into the bloodstream and vascular structures can be easily visualized. This helps identify vascular abnormalities and bleeding. Radiolabeled molecules can also be taken up by certain tissues, which helps narrow a diagnosis. For example, technetium-99 is used in bone scanning and iodine-131 is used to examine thyroid tissue. Often two or more of the imaging techniques mentioned above are combined to give the doctor a clear idea of what is happening in the patient's body.
How medical imaging technology has evolved over the years
Medical imaging technology has advanced by leaps and bounds over the years. This was not limited to the modalities through which images are taken. There has been increasing emphasis on post-processing and newer more advanced ways of sharing and storing medical images. The aim here is to get the greatest possible benefit from existing technologies and to distribute them to as many people as possible.
In the field of diagnostic medical imaging, clinicians can now manipulate images to gain more insight and information from the same data.
Advances in imaging data storage and retrieval
With the different types of imaging equipment in use today and the unique data they produce, integration and ease of collaboration are of greatest concern to healthcare institutions and end users. Almost all types of images are captured digitally today and are made up of huge data files. An important development in this regard was the introduction of the PACS (Picture Archiving and Communications System). It is a platform that enables integrated storage and viewing of medical images from various devices and systems. In the PACS server, images are mainly stored in DICOM format (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine).
DICOM is a standard developed by the American College of Radiologists. All images, including CT scans, MRIs, ultrasound and PET scans, only need to be saved, accessed and shared in DICOM format. The DICOM format contains patient details embedded in the image to minimize diagnostic errors. A number of DICOM viewing applications are available in the market, and each has a different set of functions to aid clinicians in diagnosis and treatment planning.
Advanced medical imaging tools
Medical 3D imaging technology
A disadvantage of existing medical imaging techniques is their two-dimensional results, while body tissues and organs are three-dimensional. To design a structure in three dimensions, clinicians need to look at image slices from different angles and then reconstruct a mental image for interpretation. This is a time consuming process and is prone to failure. 3D imaging has long been a destination for manufacturers of advanced medical imaging software and equipment. 3D image reproduction is now offered by several DICOM applications. It is usually based on the reconstruction of 2D images. 3D reconstruction saves doctors the trouble of going through multiple sections of images and narrows the focus to the area of interest. 3D imaging also enables one volumetric analysiswhich is an extremely useful tool when making a clinical diagnosis.
Another offshoot of the 3D reconstruction is the multiplanar reconstruction (MPR). MPR is the process of obtaining new slices of images from the 3D reconstructed model. The new slices are in layers that are different from the originally purchased slices. This becomes especially useful when tracking the course of important structures such as the aorta.
Imaging software today has several features that help healthcare professionals study their region of interest in detail. One such feature is intensity projection. Clinicians can manipulate the image of a reconstructed area by viewing only the maximum or minimum CT values. These are called maximum and minimum intensity projections (MIP and MINIP). They increase the contrast between the area of interest and the surrounding normal tissues.
Real 3D imaging
The 3D reconstruction technology is still not as precise as we'd like it to be, and some doctors prefer to go through multiple 2D sections to avoid mistakes. An interesting development in this area is “True” 3D imaging. This innovative imaging system enables clinicians to view and interact with a virtual replica of an organ or body structure. The image appears in the form of a hologram, and clinicians can virtually rotate the structure, cut cross-sections, and identify key anatomical landmarks. Such a tool could become indispensable for planning operations in the future.
An advanced medical imaging tool called image fusion is available in many DICOM applications. It allows you to merge two or more image datasets into a single file. This can combine the advantages of different imaging modalities. The most common and useful image fusion techniques are PET / CT and PET / MR image fusion, which combine the advantages of PET scan, CT scan and MRI. PET helps identify and locate the area of interest (usually a malignant or inflamed area). CT provides excellent anatomical details of the extent of the lesion as well as the tissue levels involved. MRI helps in achieving soft tissue dissolution. In combination, there is a remarkable increase in the sensitivity and specificity of diagnostic imaging studies.
Traditionally, it has always been understood that there would be a "delay" between the time the image is captured and when it is interpreted. The delay comes from the time it takes to process and prepare the image, present it to the radiologist, and then for the radiologist to view each section of the image and apply their knowledge to interpret it. This delay can have a significant impact on clinical outcomes, especially in emergency situations such as trauma where time is of the essence.
Today, many imaging systems offer "real-time results," which means that the delay between image acquisition and interpretation is either minimal or nonexistent. Clinicians can see images on a screen while the patient is still in the imaging unit. This not only reduces the delay, but has the additional advantage that body systems can view each other in real time while they are working and thus assess their functional integrity. For example, the swallowing function of the esophagus can be assessed for possible causes of dysphagia. Similarly, fetal movements can be seen in real time with ultrasound. The power of real-time imaging enables surgeons to make intraoperative decisions.
A look into the future of medical imaging technology
Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the ability of machines to simulate human intelligence. This is especially true for cognitive functions such as learning and problem solving. As part of medical imaging, AI can be trained to detect abnormalities in human tissue to aid both in diagnosing diseases and in monitoring their treatment. There are three ways AI can help radiologists. AI can sift through huge datasets of images and patient information at superhuman speeds. This can speed up workflows. Second, AI can be trained to detect anomalies that are too small to be seen with the naked eye. This can improve the diagnosis accuracy. Third, AI can be used to pull previous imaging scans from a patient's electronic medical record (EMR) and then compare them to the patient's latest scan results. Other aspects of the patient's EMR, such as the appropriate medical history, can also be accessed and used to aid diagnosis.
Several companies have successfully managed to incorporate AI into imaging systems, but none of them are available for commercial use as of now. An example of AI-integrated medical imaging software is Viz, which improves both detection and treatment time in patients with major vascular obstruction. (LVOs). The software is able to search multiple images across multiple hospital databases for LVOs. When an LVO is detected, the software can alert both the stroke specialist and the patient's primary physician to ensure that the patient is receiving immediate treatment. In the case of a time-bound illness such as stroke, this has the effect of greatly improving outcomes and reducing the cost burden on the healthcare system.
Cloud based applications
Both the rapid advances in imaging technology and the ubiquitous use of medical images in healthcare have created an urgency to find innovative ways to store and share medical imaging data. With this in mind, cloud technology has become one of the leading determinants of the future of medical imaging technology. Cloud technology enables data to be stored and passed on regardless of geographic location with the help of the Internet. Cloud-based medical imaging applications make it easy to save and retrieve imaging files in DICOM format. They increase efficiency and reduce costs. Healthcare professionals can collaborate on medical imaging data from around the world. The end result is better health outcomes for patients.
Cloud-based applications also improve the blockchain process. In simple terms, a “blockchain” is adding a new digital record to an old one, just like adding a new link to an existing physical chain. Images available in the cloud can be added to a blockchain, making the patient's medical information accessible to any doctor around the world.
PostDicom - At the cutting edge of medical imaging technology
PostDicom brings together the best of the latest medical imaging technology. It is one of only a few cloud-based DICOM viewing applications out there. The DICOM files stored on the cloud PACS server are secured with SSL encryption. PostDicom has 3D medical imaging technology and offers advanced image manipulation capabilities including multiplanar reconstruction, intensity projection (maximum, average and minimum) and image fusion. Clinical documents can also be saved and viewed with the application. It is compatible with all common operating systems (Windows, Mac OS, Linus) and can be accessed from laptops, tablets and smartphones. Best of all, for basic users, it's absolutely free, and free to use comes with 50GB of cloud storage.
Cloud-based PACS levels the playing field for users of medical imaging information systems
From CIS, HIS, EMR, and EHR to RIS, DICOM, PACS, and Cloud PACS, there are endless terms and abbreviations for the many different types of medical imaging information systems. One of the most common pitfalls of professional jargon in any field is that terms get a bit jumbled, entwined, or misused every now and then and through daily communication.
What you need to know about medical image sharing
If you are someone who routinely deals with medical imaging, you are likely familiar with the term DICOM. DICOM, short for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine, is a standardized imaging format developed by the American College of Radiology in collaboration with the National Electrical Manufacturer's Association.
Vendor Neutral Archive vs PACS - Entry into the future of medical image archiving with cloud-based PACS
Medical imaging technology is at the height of its development today. Today medical images are of the highest quality and resolution. But the improvement in quality comes at the expense of large file sizes.
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