“Imaging is now central to the practice of modern medicine” begins Dr Paul Reidy from Canberra Diagnostic Imaging.
“It can give an evidence-based diagnosis.”
Elaborating on this further, “Whereas it would have been done only with a physically examination by a doctor in past, imaging is now used, and it is more objective rather than relying on the skill of the clinician.”
He also believes that “Imaging is the gatekeeper of the medical system. We can ask ourselves, what’s going on with this patient? They can then be referred to an appropriate specialist.
“Imaging is also used at the end of the patient's care to see if the problem we were treating them for is fixed.
“With pneumonia for example, a chest X-ray can be done a couple of months later to ensure it’s gone and nothing else is there as an underlying issue such as cancer.”
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It’s also good for record keeping. “Practitioners will use medical imaging for documentation. I can see exactly where the needle went for example. I don’t need to remember 10 years later, I can go back and see it.
“We can use it for showing that tubes or lines are where they should be, proving there are no complications.
Medical imaging is also used for “confirming at the end that everything is as it should be, giving closure for the patient’s episode of care.”
Dr Reidy also pointed out that “Radiologists are increasingly involved with all medical specialities to make decisions about what is the appropriate imaging for a particular patient, what’s on the imaging, and what else it could be” causing the patient’s problems.
“Medical imaging is complementary to most other specialities, even psychiatry. If a patient presents with some bizarre behaviour, they may have a tumour on the brain or another issue causing it.”
“It is crucial for acute care like a motorbike accident for instance.
“A scan is usually the first thing that happens when a patient is coming through the door of an emergency dept.”
It’s not just for accidents either. “We’re involved very early in any episode of patient care.”
Importantly, “We do things that are less invasive, and evidence based.”
Medical imaging “synthesises a lot of information to assess what is going on with the patient.
“Patients will be rarely organised enough to have everything wrong with them sorted by one specialist.
“We have a bit of a toe in most camps, and a radiologist can give the best overview of what’s going on.”