Understanding Four Common Types of Medical Imaging

Medical imaging or radiology describes the technology used to produce images of the body’s interior that can be used for early detection of health conditions, diagnosis of root causes for symptoms and the monitoring of diagnosed conditions and/or the effects of treatment. There are several different types of imaging that employ specific methods to help medical professionals view and analyze what is happening inside your body. Each type comes with specific benefits and drawbacks.


Projectional radiographs, or X-rays, are widely used to show bones, some tumors and other solid matter.  This technology is relatively inexpensive, fast, non-invasive and usually painless. X-rays can be used to assess a wide range of diseases and injuries, but there is a small risk of cancer due to radiation exposure.

Computed Tomography

CT scans involve multiple X-rays of cross-sections of the body, yielding detailed images that allow for diagnosis and detection of a wider range of serious diseases than a simple X-ray. CT requires more radiation, increasing the risk of cancer. Also, the use of a contrast dye to identify objects can cause an allergic reaction in some patients.  Trained radiologists providing advanced imaging in New Jersey can properly interpret the results of a CT scan.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

An MRI scanner uses magnetic fields and radio waves to display internal body parts. This method is typically non-invasive, painless and radiation-free; however, the procedure can be noisy and prolonged. Patients must remain still as the slightest motion can ruin images. Also, some patients may experience claustrophobia inside the scanner.


Ultrasound machines utilize high-frequency sound waves to generate moving images on a screen. Although this technology is non-invasive and does not require radiation, some ultrasounds require the use of probes for insertion. Additionally, this procedure may require advance preparation such as fasting or having a full bladder.

Medical imaging is a powerful tool in assessing and monitoring your health. Many technologies exist, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Talk to your doctor about which type of imaging is right for you.

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