Digital Imaging Technologies in Health Care

MRIs and CT scans are discussed as they are used in Health Care and what they can accomplish.

Digital imaging technologies have surpassed traditional X-rays in the amount of medical information that they can present to health professionals.  CT scans and MRIs are found among these imaging technologies, and are more expensive than X-rays to implement and use.  However, the information yielded by CT scans and MRIs are superior to X-rays, resulting in an overall reduction in cost by minimizing exploratory surgery.

CT stands for Computerized Tomography.  CT scans create a cross-sectional image of a person’s body using digital technology and X-rays.  The X-rays are passed through a person’s body from differing angles.  Cross-sectional images are then created from these X-rays.  CT scans can detect brain tumors, locate nerve centers, and find conditions such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging.  This technology uses computers to create pictures of soft tissue in the body that cannot be seen by ordinary X-rays.  MRIs are more useful in certain areas than are CT scans.  MRIs can create pictures of the insides of bones, whereas CT scans cannot.  MRIs are also better than CT scans in detecting bone cancer, as well as finding stroke at earlier stages.  MRIs are especially useful in finding brain abnormalities in dementia patients and are especially proficient in distinguishing among types of nerve tissue, which aids in the treatment of brain disorders.

MRIs are noninvasive and do not use radiation.  New and emerging uses of MRIs are being developed such as a new technique to merge laser technology to obtain immediate and bloodless high resolution biopsies.  Functional MRIs (fMRIs) have been developed and can identify the brain’s functional areas and assist in treatments plans and are used to study patient’s conditioned responses.  Another technique called dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI will be able to make clear new blood vessel growth which feed cancerous tumors which can help scientists create new drugs to slow the growth of those kind of blood vessels.  MRIs can also assist in brain surgery.  The new technique is called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), where the modified MRI shows connections between parts of the brain where the surgeon can make sure are not damaged during surgery.

Thus, as we can see, digital imaging technologies are superior to X-rays in assisting medical care providers in serving their patients.  MRIs and CT scans will continue to be used and refined in Health Care.


Burke, L., & Weill, B.  (2009).  Information Technology for the Health Professions.  Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Pearson Prentice Hall.