Advances in radiology have come thick and fast since Wilhelm Rontgen’s discovery of the X-ray over 120 years ago.
“The field saw massive development throughout the early and mid-1900s,” explains Dov Bechhofer, a radiologist from New York City.
Perhaps the most significant advances, however, came in the 1970s with the arrival of the computerized tomography or CT scanner in 1972. This was followed later in the decade by MRI or magnetic resonance imaging. “Steady and determined development of MRI techniques then continued into and throughout the 1980s and beyond,” Bechhofer adds.
Indeed, radiological advances continue today, with artificial intelligence among current hot topics in the field. “We’ve seen advances in radiology year on year for as long as the technology has existed,” reveals Bechhofer.
Since its development, MRI, in particular, has proved to be a highly versatile medical imaging technique. An MRI scan may be performed to find any one of a myriad of health problems. These include internal bleeding and injury, tumors, blood vessel diseases, and infections.
“Sometimes MRI will be completed alongside an X-ray, CT, or ultrasound scan where more information or clearer imaging is required,” radiologis Dov Bechhofer explains.
According to Dov Bechhofer, magnetic resonance imaging is often focused on one of six key areas of the body. The radiologist explains that these are the head, chest, abdomen, and spine, as well as blood vessels, and bones and their joints.
Of the head, he says, “An MRI scan can be used to uncover damage caused as the result of a stroke, along with problems pertaining to the eyes and optic nerves, and the ears and associated auditory nerves.”
This is in addition to any of the aforementioned, such as diagnosing an aneurysm or internal bleeding, injury, tumors, disease, or infection. “Also, an MRI scan of the head is often used to get to the root cause of persistent or unexplained headaches,” Bechhofer adds.
“MRI of the chest is typically used to examine the heart, its valves, and the coronary blood vessels,” suggests Bechhofer, pointing out that it may also be used to show if the heart, or indeed the lungs, are otherwise damaged. “MRI in this area may also be utilized to diagnose breast cancer,” he adds.
A scan of the stomach area, or abdomen MRI, typically also covers the pelvis. “This,” says Bechhofer, “is generally to examine organs such as the liver, pancreas, kidneys, gallbladder, and bladder.” A radiographer will often be looking for any sign of tumors, bleeding, infection, or blockages. “In female patients, MRI of the pelvic area may look at the uterus and ovaries, while in male patients it can be used to look at the prostate,” Bechhofer adds.
The New York-based radiologist continues, “A spinal MRI scan checks the discs and associated nerves of the spine for conditions including disc bulges, spinal stenosis, and spinal tumors. Meanwhile, in regard to bones and joints, the technology is used to look for conditions such as arthritis, bone marrow issues, tumors, torn tendons and ligaments, or infection.”
Dov Bechhofer points out that MRI may also be used to confirm or rule out suspected bone breakages where an X-ray hasn’t proved conclusive.
Lastly, the radiologist explains that, in terms of blood vessels, the technology is known instead as MRA or magnetic resonance angiography. “MRA is used to observe blood vessels and blood flow.”
“This,” Dov Bechhofer adds, wrapping up, “is often carried out in an effort to locate serious issues such as blocked or torn vessels in any part of the body, including the head, chest, and abdomen.”