Many teams in the medical profession rely heavily on medical imaging. In fact, it is doubtful that you can make a trip to the emergency room without having some form of diagnostic imaging procedure completed as part of your workup. The reason imaging studies are so important to the practice of many physicians is it offers an inside view of your body, eliminating guesswork and reducing the need for exploratory surgeries. While every kind of specialist will order medical imaging for their patients, in today’s post we are going to discuss six types of medical doctors who would find it difficult to do their jobs without the use of medical imaging. In these specialties, it is more uncommon for a patient to not have some form of diagnostic imaging procedure completed.
You probably guessed this one right away. Orthopedic doctors specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of the musculoskeletal system including bone, joint, tissue, and nerves. Orthopedic surgeons would find it challenging to make accurate diagnoses and prescribe the right treatment without seeing what is going on. Orthopedic doctors use x-rays to see breaks clearly, and it is these x-rays that lead to a treatment plan that may or may not require resetting of the bones, casting, or surgical intervention. MRI and CT scans allow orthopedists to evaluate sprains and strains and differentiate the sources of pain in a patient without an obvious bone break. Orthopedic doctors may use initial medical imaging to diagnose and then repeat imaging to ensure full healing of the injury or assess the effectiveness of their interventions.
An oncologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. As you can imagine, imaging is a critical tool in this highly specialized field. Oncologists will use every form of diagnostic imaging technology to detect and stage cancer, then follow up on treatment success. X-rays can be used to detect cancer in bone and some organs like the lungs, stomach, and kidney. MRIs are useful in cancer detection in soft tissues in the body as well as staging cancer by finding places it may have metastasized (spread), and breast MRIs are special forms of MRI used to detect breast cancer. CT scans are particularly useful at showing a tumor’s shape and size, as well as differentiating tumors from other masses. Mammograms are special low-dose x-rays used to assess breast tissue and detect breast cancer. Ultrasounds can be useful in differentiating cysts from tumors and detecting tumors in tissues that x-rays cannot and can be used to guide biopsy. Bone scans and PET scans can also be used to better assess suspected cancers. Oncologists use diagnostic imaging to detect cancer cells and tumors and may order the use of different imaging modalities if one comes back abnormal to get a better look. Additionally, follow up scans may be ordered to assess the effectiveness of treatments and monitor for recurrence of cancer after remission.
For more information about medical imaging and cancer, read these online resources:
The specialties of obstetrics (OB) and gynecology (GYN) are those involving the female reproductive system and pregnancy, labor, and delivery of babies. When most people think about medical imaging in the OB/GYN setting, they immediately think about fetal ultrasounds to peek at baby or sonograms to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. While these are easily the most common modalities used, there are a few imaging tests that OB/GYN specialists may use. Ultrasounds, both transvaginal and transabdominal, may be used to assess female reproductive organs, verify pregnancy, and assess fetal development. Fetal echocardiograms are special ultrasounds used to evaluate the heart of the baby. An MRI may be ordered during pregnancy if there are abnormalities detected on ultrasound to assess the baby, the placenta, and the mother’s body.
Cardiologists are doctors who specialize in the functioning of the heart. They are focused on the diagnosis and effective treatment of cardiac problems. For the most part, cardiac imaging is performed by a cardiac radiologist. Diagnostic imaging procedures that can be used to assess the heart include an x-ray that helps assess the size and position of the heart in the chest cavity, as well as visualizing stents or tumors. Specialized cardiac ultrasounds, echocardiograms, are used to assess blood flow through the heart’s chambers. CT scans are particularly useful at viewing the heart’s structures, blood flow, and surrounding tissue. CT scans can evaluate tumors, blood vessels, and valves. MRIs are great to assess the structures around the heart and differentiate between tissues.
Neurology is the branch of medicine that deals with the nervous system, including the brain, spinal columns, and nerves. Neurologists use a variety of specialized imaging techniques referred to as neuroimaging. Structural imaging of the brain and spinal cord use standard imaging modalities including CT, MRI, PET scan, and cranial ultrasound. Additionally, neuroimaging uses specialized imaging software to assess the functionality of the neurological system. Functional MRI (fMRI) is used to visualize the effects of the stimulus on the brain’s activity. PET scans are used to measure metabolic activity in the brain, primary oxygen delivery and glucose usage. Cranial ultrasounds are useful to assess the brain of newborns whose fontanelles have nor yet closed.
Dental imaging is very different from medical imaging, but uses similar technologies. Although dentists are not medical doctors, we would be remiss not to include them on a list of doctors who use radiology services frequently. Dentists, in fact, use imaging procedures on every single patient they serve. X-ray technology is the most common imaging used by dentists to take panoramic and bite images of your mouth. This helps give them a clear view of your teeth, how they are in relation to your jaw, and whether or not you have any hardware. Dentists may also use CT scans when regular dental x-rays are not sufficient enough to look at the soft tissues and nerves of your mouth. This helps make a more accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
Most doctors use medical imaging to help assess and diagnose their patients. At Touchstone Imaging, we provide patients in Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Florida, and Arkansas access to reliable medical imaging centers and their doctors with accurate interpretations. For all of your imaging needs, contact us to schedule your appointment at the center nearest you today!