Diagnostic Tests and Imaging

Diagnostic tests and imaging techniques are the most helpful tools for the physicians and surgeons to narrow the causes of an injury or illness. They give an inside picture of the bones, organs, muscles, tendons, nerves, and cartilage of human body to ensure the accuracy of the diagnosis and define an appropriate line of treatment. The main diagnostics tests and imaging techniques include:

X-rays: The most common and widely available imaging technique that is almost always the first test before any sophisticated test is performed. It uses the electromagnetic radiations to reflect the internal structures on an exposing film. The part of body to be pictured is positioned between the X-ray machine and photographic film with patient being still for few moments.

Facts about X-ray

  • Dense matter like bones, tumors etc. appear white or light as they absorb the radiation

  • Less dense soft tissues and breaks in bone let radiation pass through them and appear darker on the X-ray film

  • X-ray can be taken from several angles

  • Barium sulphate or a dye may be given to the patient to highlight certain parts of the body

  • The procedure takes about 10 minutes and images are ready quickly

  • Rays are harmful for pregnant ladies and special precautions are needed.

Computed tomography (CT) scans: It is a modern imaging technology that combines X-rays with computer. It produces a more detailed, cross-sectional image of the body and pictures the deeper structures of the body like organs, tissues or tumors. Patient is positioned motionless into the centre of a sliding cylinder-like CT scanner. In this position, an X-ray tube slowly rotates around the patient to take several pictures from all directions and a computer combines these images to produce a clear, three-dimensional view on a television screen.

Facts about CT-Scan

  • It is advised in cases of severe trauma to the brain, spinal cord, chest, abdomen, or pelvis along with disorders of small and bony structure of body

  • Barium sulphate or a dye may be given to the patient to highlight certain parts of the body

  • It is costly as compared to X-rays and takes more time

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): MRI uses magnetic fields and a computer to capture high-resolution cross-sectional images of bones and soft tissues. Patient is positioned motionless into the centre of a sliding tube-shaped MRI scanner. Several pictures of the part are taken and recorded in computer. The procedure may take 20 to 30 minutes.