Radiology And its importance In Medicine

Radiology is a branch of medicine that uses imaging technology to diagnose and treat disease. Radiology may be divided into two different areas, diagnostic radiology and interventional radiology.

Radiologists are medical doctors that specialize in diagnosing and treating injuries and diseases using medical imaging (radiology) procedures (exams/tests) such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography (PET) and ultrasound.

Radiology began in Germany in 1895 when Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen made an energized, lightproof cathode ray tube that started to fluoresce when situated a couple of feet away from a screen painted with fluorescent material. He knew the screen was responding to unknown rays transmitted throughout the room, which he called “x-rays.” After Röntgen’s discovery, people began creating radiographic images that started as a burst of ionizing radiation and created a contrast image on a piece of film.

Every sector within the health care field relies on radiology, including:

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics
  • Obstetrics
  • Oncology
  • Trauma-response
  • Emergency medicine
  • Infectious disease

In many cases, early diagnosis can save lives, including those of patients diagnosed with cancer. Family doctors and emergency care physicians cannot effectively manage patients without diagnostic imaging, which is why they rely on radiology to find the right diagnosis and course of treatment.

Radiology is used for a wide range of conditions, and is classified depending on the type of radiology and the exact imaging test used. The various imaging exams include:

  • Radiographs: X-rays to look at bones, the chest or the abdomen.
  • CT (Computed Tomography): A CT captures multiple x-ray angles of the patient using a doughnut-shaped machine, then creates computer-processed images.
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): An MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves with computer processing to create images.
  • Mammograms: Specially powered x-rays that look at breast tissues.
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to create moving images that display on a monitor, commonly used for echocardiograms and examining the womb during pregnancy.
  • Fluoroscopy: X-rays that make moving images of the body in real time. This imaging is crucial for many procedures, especially those involving the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Nuclear medicine: These are short-acting radioactive substances that generate light from bodily processes. A camera collects the light, so a computer can process it and develop an image.

Diagnostic radiology uses these imaging results to identify a wide range of problems, from broken bones to heart conditions and blood clots. Interventional radiology also uses imaging such as CT scansMRI and ultrasounds to guide medical procedures. Patients are typically awake during these procedures, whether it’s treating cancer, back pain, or liver and kidney problems. In some cases, interventional radiology eliminates the need for surgery and scopes.

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