“Medical imaging nowadays has been greatly enhanced by the digital revolution” begins Matthew Kunde, medical imaging technologist at I-MED Radiology Network.
“Computers have changed how we’ve done imaging. There is lots of data created with every scan. We use it to create 3D models with CT and MRI.”
That data can also be used by surgeons, oncologists and other specialists.
“The biggest improvement is in the computer technology. We can remote-stream workstations. We can control a high-powered 3D workstation where it can be remotely accessed”.
They don’t even need to be in the same city. “Specialist reporting doctors in Melbourne or Sydney can log on remotely for consultation, subject to privacy considerations being met.”
Similarly, “We’ll use a 3D-generated model for stereotactic surgeries. Surgeons can load up a 3D dataset and then you can look, in real time, at where the probe is for guided biopsies and surgery.”
There’s also a “stealth” surgical technique that neurosurgeons use that’s called FESS (functional endoscopic sinus surgery). “It too involves 3D data from a CT scanner to provide a more precise surgery.”
This 3D data can also be used to create custom, individualised models of knee replacements. “The surgeon can install it to be specifically customised to that patient, correcting deformities.”
As for medical imaging’s place in diagnostics. “There are clinical tests that the doctor can do, and get an idea of where the problem lies. With imaging we can get a more objective view of what the problem is.”
For example, “The doctor can suspect a torn ACL, but with a scan you can see that it is actually torn. We can also plan the surgery ahead of time, knowing exactly what is in there and what is needed.”
That means “It has provided a greater range of non-invasive tests that are a lot safer now.”
Mr Kind believes “It’s a way of saving money in a way. For specific indications your GP can refer you for a scan of your knee, and you may not need to see a specialist. You can get an MRI and save a trip to the specialist.”
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For all sorts of things inside the body, “If the doctor is concerned then they can get a scan and the radiologist can give an answer. They can also give a second opinion.”
I-MED’s head of nuclear medicine also described that field for us.
“This is a form of medical imaging that involves the use of radiopharmaceuticals (a combination of radioactive isotopes and pharmacueticals) to help in the diagnosis and treatment of disease and injury.
“Imaging is heavily dependant on body physiology – how the body works – to help produce images.
“The radiopharmaceutical is introduced into the patient’s body via injection, inhalation or ingestion and is dependant on the procedure being performed.
“The isotope produces gamma rays which are detected by a gamma camera which produces a minute amount of light.”