Modern medical care is based on the enormous technological advances that have been made in recent years in diagnostics and therapy. More and more medical facilities attach great importance to providing patients with access to the latest medical technologies. Modern imaging methods are of particular importance for the diagnostics of patients suffering from cancer and cardiovascular diseases. These methods have now reached the level and capabilities that, until recently, were only seen in science fiction films.
We have been enjoying the benefits resulting from the development of diagnostic imaging for over one hundred years. From the time of the Roentgen’s research in the late 19th century to the present day, we can observe successive leaps in technology. The last 150 years are also about discoveries and introduction of innovations: from the Nobel Prize-winning description of X-rays, the development and introduction of computed tomography on a massive scale, to the commencement of implementation of ICT solutions in this sector. Practically every year brings new solutions and possibilities.
Why are diagnostic imaging tests so important?
Many areas of modern medicine simply do not exist today without advanced diagnostic imaging. For instance: before a surgery, a surgeon has full knowledge of the patient’s detailed anatomy, which is often presented by a radiologist in a three-dimensional way. This allows for the thorough preparation of a therapeutic strategy. Imaging tests are also necessary for the monitoring of treatment results as well as for prophylaxis. As a result, it is possible to exclude potentially life-threatening pathologies in people who are statistically more exposed to them than the rest of the population, e.g. cardiac computed tomography tests in people with high cholesterol levels or breast MRI examinations in patients with BRCA-1 gene mutations. Thanks to the enormous technological advances made in recent years, modern medical care has capabilities that were previously only dreamt of.
According to the interview of Professor Andrzej Urbanik, Head of the Department of Radiology at the Collegium Medicum of the Jagiellonian University, for the portal dlaszpitali.pl, diagnostic imaging is
a branch of medicine in which images of the human body are obtained using various techniques. One of the most important parts of this branch of medicine is radiology, which uses a wide range of techniques, such as: radiographs (including mammography and dental images), X-rays, computed tomography, ultrasonography, magnetic resonance imaging, to hybrid techniques (a combination of radiology and nuclear medicine), combining different imaging methods, such as for example: PET-CT (combination of PET and computed tomography), PET-MR (combination of PET and magnetic resonance) or SPECT-CT (combination of SPECT and computed tomography). In addition, there is interventional radiology, where minimally invasive procedures guided by diagnostic devices are performed, replacing or supplementing classic surgeries.
According to Urbanik, up to 80% of medical diagnoses are made or confirmed on the basis of imaging tests. In the case of radiological procedures used in trauma medicine or neurosurgery, this percentage is as high as 100%. Importantly, diagnostic imaging is used not only to recognise diseases. More and more often, it is also used to monitor the effects of therapies. As a result, it is possible to quickly assess whether a specific treatment strategy for a given patient is effective or requires modification. Thanks to interventional radiology, it is possible to avoid standard surgeries in many situations. These opportunities play a crucial role in the patient’s health and life.
Who can undergo imaging tests?
Imaging tests can be performed in those patients who need to be diagnosed for the following diseases:
- cancerous tumours,
- diseases of blood vessels, including vasoconstriction, occlusion, aneurysms,
- diseases of abdominal organs (liver and bile ducts, pancreas, stomach and intestines),
- diseases of the spine, joints and bones.
Imaging tests are also performed in the case of suspected injuries of the skeletal system or internal organs. Multiorgan imaging tests are performed in the case of suspected internal injuries, e.g. after
a traffic accident. Sometimes it is necessary to perform an imaging test before a planned procedure. Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging are non-invasive, painless tests that do not have a harmful effect on the patient’s health. However, it is not recommended to perform MRI scans in pregnant women in the first trimester, which is a period of particular importance for the baby’s development. Such tests should be postponed until the second trimester, when they are recommended e.g. in the diagnostics of pregnancy pathology. Much more accurate test results than in the case of ultrasound allow doctors to properly prepare for the treatment of a sick new-born, which significantly increases the effectiveness of their actions.
Where to perform diagnostic imaging?
Modern diagnostic imaging (MRI and computed tomography) is performed in practically every private and public medical facility in Poland and is especially recommended for patients for whom time is of the essence. The MediSky policy allows its holders to have diagnostic imaging tests performed not only in any facility in Poland and in the world, but also to find the earliest date of the visit.