Imaging tests provide a picture of the body’s interior—of the whole body or part of it. Imaging helps doctors diagnose a disorder, determine how severe the disorder is, and monitor people after the disorder is diagnosed. Most imaging tests are painless, relatively safe, and noninvasive (that is, they do not require an incision in the skin or the insertion of an instrument into the body).
Imaging tests may use the following:
Radiation, as in x-rays X-Rays X-rays are a type of medical imaging that use very low-dose radiation waves to take pictures of bones and soft tissues. X-rays may be used alone (conventional x-ray imaging) or combined with... read more , angiography Angiography Angiography is a type of medical imaging that uses x-rays and a contrast agent to produce images of blood vessels. In angiography, x-rays are used to produce detailed images of blood vessels... read more , computed tomography Computed Tomography (CT) Computed tomography (CT) is a type of medical imaging that combines a series of x-rays to create cross-sectional, detailed images of internal structures. In computed tomography (CT), which used... read more (CT), and radionuclide scanning Radionuclide Scanning Radionuclide scanning is a type of medical imaging that produces images by detecting radiation after a radioactive material is administered. During a radionuclide scan, a small amount of a radionuclide... read more including positron emission tomography Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Positron emission tomography (PET) is a type of medical imaging called radionuclide scanning. By detecting radiation after a radioactive material is administered, PET creates images that can... read more (PET)
Substances that are swallowed, injected, or inserted to highlight or outline the tissue or organ to be examined (called contrast agents Radiographic Contrast Agents Radiographic contrast agents are substances used to distinguish between internal structures in medical imaging, such as various types of x-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). During imaging... read more )
There are some risks of using radiation Risks of Radiation in Medical Imaging Imaging tests that use radiation, usually x-rays, are a valuable tool in diagnosis, but exposure to radiation has some risks (see also Radiation Injury). Different diagnostic tests require different... read more in medical imaging.
For information regarding imaging tests common for specific diagnoses and screenings, see the following:
Brain, Spinal Cord, and Nerve Disorders Tests for Brain, Spinal Cord, and Nerve Disorders Diagnostic procedures may be needed to confirm a diagnosis suggested by the medical history and neurologic examination. Imaging tests commonly used to diagnose nervous system (neurologic) disorders... read more