Pin It
Favorite

Looking Inside 

by Ted S. McGregor Jr.


From the discovery of X-rays back in 1895, the wonder of seeing inside the human body without a scalpel has pushed scientists to develop better methods of getting under your skin. Here are the basic methods.





X-Ray


The old-school standard broken-leg-detector uses a machine to shoot rays against the area in question with film set behind it. Still in wide use, but as with the advent of digital cameras, actual film is used less and less. The mammogram machine is just a specialized x-ray machine.





Ultrasound


Kind of like sonar, this machine reads sound waves that bounce off of solid things in your innards. Of course the most beloved application is to view a fetus inside a mother's womb, and advances in resolution have allowed a lot of diagnostic work to be done prior to birth. But it's also used for other things, like to check the health of the gallbladder or even to detect breast cancer.





MRI


The Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine uses magnetic and radio waves to make its pictures. This machine is used to see soft tissue, so it's used to figure out knee injuries to athletes and, in some cases, to diagnose breast cancer. MRIs have become more widespread; even some rural hospitals have them now.





CT


Formerly known as the CAT scanner, this is essentially a really big X-ray machine. Instead of taking one picture, however, it takes a series of photos -- in slices. Then the computer puts the big picture together for a detailed look at a patient's anatomy. It wasn't long ago, however, that there weren't many computers big enough to process the image. Only five years ago, in fact, Inland Imaging would overnight their CT scan files to a supercomputer lab in Torrance, Calif., receiving the results a day later. CT scanners are fairly common today, and powerful new computers allow the scan to go faster and come out at a higher resolution.





PET


This scanner has been the big innovation over the last 10 years, culminating in the hybrid PET/CT scanner. The Positron Emission Tomography machine reads radioactive molecules that have been injected into a patient and have migrated to a problem area. This machine does not read anatomy -- it only shows a vague outline of the body -- but it does reveal any tumor or infection. PET scanners are also used to determine whether a course of treatment has been effective -- if a patient is "cancer-free." For now, insurance covers some applications of the PET machine, but doctors believe it has many more uses; for example, it is approved by insurance for use in detecting liver cancer, but not cervical cancer.





Publication date: 09/30/04
  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • Growing Pains
  • Growing Pains

    When the only constant is change itself, we'd best saddle up and make the most of it
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Access for Sale?
  • Access for Sale?

    Trail Mix: Clinton's shaky Foundation, Trump's questionable staffers
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Why I'm With Her
  • Why I'm With Her

    Ignore the chants: Hillary Clinton has earned America's trust from her life of public service
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Sandemonium

Sandemonium @ Sandpoint

Sat., Aug. 27, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Ted S. McGregor Jr.

  • Staying Engaged
  • Staying Engaged

    From the Mayfair Cafe to Central Park
    • Aug 4, 2016
  • Institutional Amnesia
  • Institutional Amnesia

    Threading the needle between reform and revolution
    • Jul 7, 2016
  • For Your Consideration
  • For Your Consideration

    Classic rock, a modern Altman classic and the big man throws it down (on paper)
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • 'Unreasonable Threat to Life and Property'

    Spokane's rental housing has problems, but landlord and tenant groups are split on a solution
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • 'End of Story'

    Condon administration aims to close the controversial Frank Straub chapter — but last week's scathing report has irrevocably changed the narrative
    • Aug 4, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • The Ties That Bind
  • The Ties That Bind

    Why public transit needs your support at the ballot box
    • Apr 1, 2015
  • Put Kids First
  • Put Kids First

    Why adults in Olympia must come together to pass the Early Start Act
    • May 27, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation