3.10.2 Diagnostic Techniques

  • Created by: Shann_
  • Created on: 18-01-18 11:45

Diagnostic Imaging

Dianostic Imaging

Refers to a range of techniques that produces images (usually 2D still images but in some cases moving or 3D images).

The main purpose is to investigate the appearance of internal organs/structures  without the need to open the body surgically.

Non invasive/painless. 

Imaging equipment is operated by radiographers.

1 of 9

Diagnostic Imaging

Types of Diagnostic Imaging

  • X rays
  • Contrast x rays 
  • CT scan
  • PET scan
  • Radionuclide scanning
  • MRI 
  • Ultrasound scanning
2 of 9



  • Type of electromagnetic radiation - familiar to us in the form of light and radio waves.
  • Extremely short wavelength.
  • Allows them to penetrate soft tissue of the body - cannot go through bone/metal.
  • Person lays the part to be x rayed on a photographic plate/paper.
  • X ray machine is aligned above the area to be x rayed.
  • Invisible beam is sent from the x ray machine directed at specific part of body.
  • Penetrates the soft tissue.
  • Different parts of the body blakcen and areas like bone are seen as a lighter shadow because the denser bones absorb more of the radiation than soft tissues.
  • Image is transerred to a computer for examination - structures can be seen.
3 of 9

Contrast X-Ray

Contrast X-Ray

  • Used on hollow or fluid filled organs such as the digestive tract (oesophagus, stomach and intestines) as do not show up on the x ray without contrast medium.
  • Contrast medium - harmless solution of barium sulphate in water is used.
  • Barium sulphate is a metal salt which x rays cannot pass through/opaque to x rays.
  • Patient either swallows the liquid known as barium meal or it is pumped into the patient's rectum known as a barium enema.
  • Time is then allowed to allow the liquid to reach its destination i.e. the intestines.
  • Normal x ray is taken and the contrast will show up abnormalities in the body.
  • The metal salts show up like bone would in a normal way so light shadows.
  • Water-soluble iodine dyes can be carried around the bodyin the bloodstream, this can be used to check that the blood is flowing normally in the blood vessles.
4 of 9

CT Scan

CT Scan - Computerised Tomography Scanning

  • Uses x rays to produce an image of a slice or cross section of the body.
  • Patient lies on a table which moves into a cylinder containing the scanner.
  • Scanner rotates around the patient emitting x rays.
  • The radiation passes through some tissues, is reflected off other tissues and is analysed by the scanner.
  • Information from a set of x ray receivers is processed by computer software to build a digital image in the form of slices.
  • These slices can be processed into a 2D or a 3D structure of the body.
  • Used for detecting and examining conditions affecting the brain, tumours, head injuries and damage from strokes. The entire digestive tract can be examined with the use of a contrast medium. Can produce images of structures encased in bone - such as the brain.
  • If there is an RTA (Road Traffic Accident) and a patient comes in and the doctors cannot work out hatis wrong with them then the patient will be sent for a CT scan.
5 of 9

PET Scan

PET Scan - Position Emission Tomography

  • Used to produce detailed 3D images of the inside of the body.
  • It is a flat bed with a large circular scanner at one end. 
  • A radioactive substance (a radiotracer) is injected into a vein of the patient.
  • The tracer gives off particles called positrons that releases gamma rays (a type of radiation)
  • These are detected by the PET scanner.
  • By tracking the movement of the tracer, the scaner builds up a detailed image of the body's functions as well as identifying areas of the body affected by disease.
  • Often used to confirm how far a cancer has spread or if treatment has been effective.
  • Hot spots
6 of 9

Radionuclide Scanning

A way of imagine bones, organs, and other parts of the parts of the body using a small dose of a radioactive chemical.

  • A rad (sometimes called an isotope) is a chemical which emits a type of radioactivity called gamma rays
  • Injected into a vein or swallowed - time then allowed for it to travel to target areas. Depends on the organ/tissues being examinated different rads are used
  • Lie on a bed and the gamma camera detects rays being emitted
  • Cells which are most sctive will take up the rad and emit gamma rays
  • Dectected by a gamma camera, converted into an electrical signal, sent to a computer which will build a picture
  • different colours are seen - hotspots for overactivity or cold spots for little

Used for:

  • A bone scan
  • Kidney scan
  • Heart scan
  • Thyroid scan
7 of 9

MRI- Magnetic Resonance Imaging

A type of scan used to diagnose health conditions that affect the organs, tissues and bones.

  • A person is placed in a large horizontal cylinder equipped with a powerful electromagnet. 
  • Uses a strong magnetic field on the body and radio waves
  • By focussing magnetic field on the body, it causes the hydrogen protons in body tissues to line parallel to each other
  • A strong pulse of radio waves then vidrates these particles and knocks them out of alignment
  • When the particles realign, they emit small radio signals which are picked up by the scanner receiver and converted by a computer into an image as a cross section
  • These can be combined to make a 3D picture which is examined by a health professional
  • Used for brain and spinal cord, bones and joints, breasts, heart and muscles and lungs and liverYou need to be conscious before this scan
8 of 9

Ultrasound Scanning

Ultrasound Scanning

A procedure that uses high frequecny soundwaves to create an image of part of the body

  • A lunricant gel is put on the skin

  • A small handheld device called a trasducer is used. The gel allows the transducer to move smoothly to ensure there is continuous contact between the sensor and the skin

  • The transducer is connected to a computer with a monitor

  • Pulses of ultrasound are sent from a probe in the transducer theorugh the skin and into teh body

  • These bounce back from the structure in the doby to be displayed as am inage on the monitor. They also show movement

9 of 9


No comments have yet been made

Similar Health & Social Care resources:

See all Health & Social Care resources »See all Diagnosis, treatment and prevention strategies resources »