CT imaging increases survival rates for patients with lung cancer and those who’ve sustained injuries from falling or drowning. These tests reduce the mortality rate of traffic accident patients in the ER by 25%.
Thus, researchers recommend CT scans for all accident patients. They also recommend appropriate medical imaging to facilitate a reduction in organ discard. This makes imaging key for organ procurement organizations.
Unfortunately, medical organizations face financial, procedural, and geographical barriers to using medical imaging. They can lack the time or campus space to order tests as often as best practices recommend.
A medical diagnostic imaging center can help. When an organization partners with a medical imaging center, it’s empowered to use medical imaging tools whenever necessary.
Read on to discover what imaging centers can do to help your team.
Angiography is a process that uses a contrast agent to create a medical image. Most angiographies use x-rays, but newer angiography methods use CT scanners or MRI machines.
An angiograph creates an image of the lumen of a person’s organs. The lumen is the interior of any physiological tube-like structure. The lungs’ bronchi, kidney’s tubules, bile ducts, and fallopian tubes are all lumen.
Typically, clinicians order an angiography to take a clear picture of a patient’s blood vessels. This might include the chambers of the heart, arteries, veins, or capillaries.
Clinicians perform different types of angiographies to pursue different diagnoses. You might utilize one of these seven common subtypes.
Microangiography generates an image of small lymph vessels and capillaries. It can create an image of vessels with a diameter of 200 µm and narrower.
Microangiography can show microvascular lesions. Clinicians may use it for early tumor detection.
Fluorescent Microangiography (FMA)
Most microangiography tests use barium-sulfate, CO², or an iodine-based contrast agent to make the vessels visible. FMA differs. It uses fluorescent polystyrene microspheres as a contrast instead.
This improves the depth of field in projected imagery. And, it enables pathologists to follow branching patterns in organs with complex vascular infrastructure (i.e. lungs, kidneys).
Laser Doppler Holography (LDH)
Clinicians typically use LDH to measure blood flow in small vessels. Ophthalmologists use LDH more often than other specialists.
Unlike most angiography, LDH tests do not require a contrast agent. Instead, they use laser doppler imaging (LDI).
The process combines laser light backscattering and cameras with ultra-high frame rates. A photodiode converts the backscattered light into an electrical signal. LDH generates the images from that signal.
Clinicians use peripheral angiography to map out the vessels of arms, hands, legs, and feet. Specialists can determine the location of narrowing veins, blood clots, and signs of renal stenosis.
A peripheral angiography of the head and neck can give physicians information about a stroke.
Cerebral angiography generates images of the blood vessels in the brain and skull. Neurologists use cerebral angiographies to diagnose aneurysms. They’re also useful tools for locating arteriovenous malformations in the brain.
CT Perfusion (CTP) Angiography
CTP gives clinicians data about blood flow in the brain, in addition to vessel structure. CTP angiography reduces the time spent generating images in stroke patients.
It improves treatment precision and outcomes for patients whose brain tissue is dying, but not yet dead.
A coronary angiography creates images of artery openings. Cardiologists can determine the location of blockages from the imagery. This determines the treatment plan after a heart attack.
Donor Heart Evaluation
Transplant centers routinely use coronary angiographies to evaluate potential donor hearts. This process ensures the safety and compatibility between donor hearts and transplant patients.
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)
OCT uses a light scattering technique to generate medical images. Practitioners use near-infrared light to generate images of sub-surface organ tissues. It is similar to ultrasound technology.
Ophthalmologists and optometrists regularly use OCT angiography to develop images of the retina. Ophthalmologists typically call OCT angiography “retinal scanning.”
Clinicians may order OCT angiography to diagnose skin conditions and certain cancers.
Digital Subtraction Angiography (DSA)
DSA is a type of fluoroscopy. It generates images of blood vessels in bony environments and soft tissues.
DSA requires two images: one with contrast and one without. Specialists subtract the non-contrast image from the contrast image. This lets them better visualize vessels without the interruption of bones and other components.
Carbon Dioxide Angiography
Carbon dioxide angiography is a type of DSA. It uses CO² as a contrast medium. This creates a much clearer picture of visceral arteries than other angiography techniques.
Radionuclide angiography depicts the heart’s chambers in motion. Cardiologists may use it to determine the precise function, rate, and efficiency of different heart valves and chambers.
Radionuclide angiography uses radiopharmaceutical contrast and a gamma camera to generate the image. Cardiologists may prefer echocardiography to this test, as echocardiography bears no risk from radiation.
2. Organ Biopsy Analysis
An organ biopsy removes a cylindrical cross-section of an organ. Technicians then cut the sample into thin segments and examine those segments under a microscope. They may involve contrast agents to develop clearer images.
Pathologists subject kidneys and livers to biopsies most often. These biopsies can help diagnose disease and develop treatment plans.
Digital Pathology Whole Slide Imaging (WSI)
Whole slide imaging has advanced organ biopsy analysis considerably. WSI generates high-resolution digital images from glass slides. This streamlines workflows and increases access to biopsy-diagnostic technology.
WSI accelerates the organ donation process. It can also enable general practitioners to seek specialist interpretation over long distances.
The college of American Pathologists published WSI guidelines in 2020. The guidelines aim to ensure the validity of diagnoses from WSI.
3. Computer-Aided Diagnosis (CAD) via Medical Diagnostic Imaging Center
Computer-Aided Diagnosis systems compliment radiologists’ interpretations of medical imagery. Algorithms scan images and make diagnostic recommendations based on their findings.
Recently, researchers have experimented with augmenting artificially intelligent CAD systems via machine learning. Mayo Clinic scientists are training a CAD program to interpret kidney biopsies.
Contemporary pathologists typically use CAD systems supplementally.
Neurologists in pilot studies use CAD schema to pinpoint intracranial aneurysms. Some existing systems help clinicians detect the earliest stages of breast cancer and lung cancers.
4. Computed Tomography (CT Scan)
CT scans are versatile radiology techniques. They generate images of cross-sections of the body.
CT scanners take X-ray images from every angle of the body. Then, a computer program processes the images into readable “slices” of visual information.
The algorithm processes and arranges the images using iterative reconstruction methods. Most CT scans require patients to undergo contrast enhancement to develop clearer imagery.
Contrast agents are often iodine-based.
Cardiac Computed Tomography (CCT)
CCT exams generate complex, detailed images of the heart and coronary arteries. Cardiologists use CCT images to determine the presence of luminal plaque.
CCT scans also locate precise points within epicardial coronary arteries. This enables cardiologists to plan heart surgery effectively.
Cardiac CT: Coronary Calcium Scan
Cardiac CT scans generate images that showcase the extent and location of calcified plaque. Radiologists may call this type of test “calcium scoring.” It’s an important tool for heart disease treatment.
5. Echocardiograms (ECHO)
A dedicated medical imaging center may conduct echocardiograms. An echocardiogram is an ultrasound reading of the heart.
Like all ultrasounds, echocardiography uses ultrasonic waves and the doppler effect to generate images of the heart in motion. Generating maps of physical objects through sound is “echolocation.”
Cardiologists can determine a range of heart functions from an ECHO, including:
- Pumping capacity
- Cardiac output
- Ejection fraction
- Diastolic functions
Cardiologists can diagnose and plan treatment for several cardiomyopathies by observing these functions.
6. Electrocardiography (ECG or EKG)
A general center for medical imaging will typically run electrocardiography tests. The typical vital imaging medical diagnostic center can also interpret EKG results.
ECGs measure and record the electrical activity in the heart. The test generates images in the form of a moving graph. The graph tracks the heart’s voltage over time.
7. Ultrasound Imaging
Ultrasound imaging uses ultrasonic sound waves to create pictures of organ interiors. Sonography is the practice of ultrasound imaging. Sonography creates images in real-time.
Pathologists may order sonograms to get an image of:
- Abdominal organs
- Breast tissue
- Bones (fragility assessment)
- Fetus in pregnancy
- Ocular structures
Sonography can also guide needle insertion for biopsies. Pathologists often order ultrasound exams instead of CT scans on pediatric patients.
Ultrasounds are less invasive and have fewer complication risks for children. And, they provide enough information to accurately diagnose common pediatric abdominal pathologies, like appendicitis.
8. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scans
Positron emission tomography generates images of fluid physiological processes. PET scans visualize interior physical changes, including:
- Metabolic processes
- Blood flow
- Regional chemical composition
To create these images, PET exams use radiotracers. Clinicians use different radiotracers to detect different fluid pathologies.
Radiotracers generate radiation that disperses in the designated bodily system. Images of the radiotracer dispersion effectively map the physiological process.
Clinicians use PET scans to diagnose or plan treatment for cancers, infections, neurological disorders, and psychiatric illnesses.
9. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan Evaluation
Magnetic resonance imaging uses magnetic fields to generate images. MRIs provide better contrast than CT scans of soft tissues. MRI images are incredibly versatile diagnostic tools.
Different MRI scans map different types of organic information. The most common types of MRIs are:
- Real-time MRI
- Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
- Functional MRIs
- Molecular Imaging
- Interventional MRI
Clinicians have standardized MRI sequences for different organ system analyses. Read Appropriate Magnetic Resonance Imaging Ordering to discover current sequence standards.
10. Plain Radiography (X-Ray)
Clinicians order x-rays for diagnosis more than any other medical imaging scan. X-rays use rays of high-energy electromagnetic radiation to generate images of internal body structures.
Radiologists use x-rays to make a wide range of medical diagnoses including bone fractures and pulmonary infections. If a pathologist believes an x-ray indicates cancer, they may order more granular imaging tests (like CT scans).
End-to-End Medical Imaging Solutions
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