When Wilhelm Roentgen discovered X-radiation in 1895, little did he know that his detection would turn into a major development in medical science, thereby improving the lives of millions of people.
As the world celebrates Radiology Day on November 8, let us look back at the wonders of radiology, a branch of science that uses imaging to detect, diagnose and treat pathological conditions that are not visible to naked eyes. The supreme importance of radiology as a separate branch of medical science lies in the fact that it makes possible to see what at one time was only visible through surgery.
Radiology today has developed into an important field of medical science and uses a variety of imaging techniques in order to detect diseases. Some of the most marvelous techniques include X-Ray, Ultrasound, CT scan, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET).
Technological marvels of radiology
X-Ray is a kind of electromagnetic ray that can pass through the flesh and identify the bone structures within the body. The idea that X-Rays can help in medical imaging was proposed by Roentgen right after his detection. Soon X-Rays were put to medical use and a variety of techniques were discovered which in turn helped to consolidate the science of radiology. Some of the most important techniques of medical radiology are:
• Plain Radiography: This is the technique of obtaining a high contrast image of a portion of the body on a silver-impregnated film by passing an X-Ray over it. Plain radiographic images continue to be the most preferred tool of diagnosis for a variety of medical conditions such as broken bones, arthritis and tumors.
• Ultrasound: Medical Ultrasonography is a procedure by which high frequency sound waves are passed through the body in order to identify the soft tissues of the body. This is especially helpful to identify the progressive development of the fetus within a mother’s body. In such cases, use of ultrasound waves are beneficial than X-Rays since it does not involve the harmful effects of ionizing radiation.
• CT Scan or Computer Tomography: They use the wonders of X-Ray along with computer algorithms to achieve a cross-sectional analysis of a body part. CT scan has become a preferred choice for diagnosing emergent conditions like brain hemorrhage etc.
• MRI: MRI uses strong magnetic fields to see inside of the body. It gives greater clarity of soft tissues than normal X-Ray and can produce images from all sides. It is currently an important diagnostic tool for musculoskeletal diseases but patients usually complain of claustrophobia inside an MRI machine. Further any patient with any metallic attachment inside his/her body becomes a risky subject since he/she is exposed to strong magnetic resolutions.
• PET Scan: It is branch of nuclear medicine which involves the administration of radioactive pharmaceuticals inside the body and then taking multi-planer images of the body. It is highly favored in cancer detection.
The importance of radiography as a procedure of medical imaging can hardly be overstated. From a basic idea of X-Ray wave penetrating the soft tissues of the body, radiology has developed into an important branch of medical practice, helping doctors to detect several pathological conditions which otherwise would have been impossible to diagnose.
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