Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What are some of the most noticeable changes in medical imaging equipment?

One of the biggest changes in medical imaging equipment that has increased the efficiency of radiology and other imaging systems is the use of PACS or Picture Archiving Communication Systems. Basically PACS provide a way for the scan to be converted into a digital image or computer file, which can then be transferred via the internet or local network to the physicians. This not only saves time in developing full x-ray images and hard copies, but it also allows for easy viewing of the image or scan from any secure, connected computer within the health care facility or system. Specialists no longer have to wait for hard copies; everything can be transferred quickly and easily with the click of a mouse. What is the advantage of 3D images in MRI, Ultrasound and CAT or CT scans compared to the 2D traditional images? The images provided traditionally through any type of imaging system have been two dimensional. This means that the doctor is looking at a flat picture, which can show width and height but not depth. Only the top surfaces are visible, which restricts dramatically what the physicians and specialists can determine without performing some type of invasive procedure. Three dimensional medical imaging equipment, which uses specialized computer software, has made it possible for the doctors to actually see into the patient and view the problematic area from all three dimensions. Not only does this provide a more complete understanding of the issue, but it is essential in diagnosing conditions that may not be clearly visible from a typical two dimension type of imaging scan. In ultrasound technology in particular this three dimensional option gives doctors and medical teams the opportunity to watch the organ or body part in actual real time as well as in motion. Other types of images capture the image and freeze it, with the computer program combining multiple shots to show the image. The ultrasound option provides a look into the system while it is functioning, similar to an ultrasound for pregnancy. What is meant by CAD in medical imagining equipment? CAD, at least when talking about medical imaging equipment, stands for Computer Aided Detector. This is a specialized program that has been developed specifically in regards to mammography scans and detection of the earliest signs of breast cancer or pre-cancerous cells. CAD uses a previous scan of the breast done in a mammography and immediately compares the older scan with the current scan that is occurring. When even minor areas of change are detected by the program an alert is sent to the technician completing the current mammography. This allows the technician to focus in on that particular area of the breast and capture any images of changes that may be available. It is important to realize that CAD does not diagnoses, rather the computer uses its very specific and instantaneous comparison from previous and current mammography scans to note areas of difference.

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