Four Types Of Medical Imaging, And What They Typically Show You

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With all of the advanced modern technology we have, the medical community has developed several ways to peer into the human body. Each of these medical imaging methods provides clues into how parts of the body work, or more to the point, do not work. If you think that some part of your body needs to be viewed from the inside, here are four types of medical imaging that can help, as well as what they often show and present to your doctor.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, uses magnetic waves to "see" into your body. Usually, an MRI is used for denser parts of the body so that your doctor can see into your skull, brain, and torso. However, an MRI can be used to see any and all parts of the body. You are injected with a special contrast dye that is laden with a specific, harmless metal so that when the MRI is working, the waves are drawn to the metal in the dye. You can see where the dye is traveling throughout the body, and you can see where it gets stuck because of a blockage, or because the tissue is dead.


Otherwise known as an electrocardiogram, the EKG or ECG provides a clear picture of the functions of your heart. When your heart has trouble functioning as it should, the images and the printout of the rhythm data will show this. Your doctor will use that information to figure out how to best treat your heart problem without exposing it to more imaging tests that could stress it.


Perhaps the most fascinating, but least favorite, way to see into the human body is the articulating medical boroscope. This device either goes down your upper GI tract via your throat, or up your derriere and into your colon and intestines. Neither is a fun experience for the patient, but the images these scopes have produced have saved countless lives from cancers and painful injuries. 


An ultrasound delivers a different sort of picture than an MRI. Additionally, there are now 3D real-time ultrasound machines that produce images in full color 3D. Most of the time, these machines are used to determine stages of pregnancy, human reproductive issues, and problems with your kidneys. However, ultrasound machines have also been used to "see" problems with lung, heart, and liver tissues. The ultrasound can spot tumors and heart valve problems with ease and accuracy.