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What are the Types of Medical Imaging Equipment?

How important is medical imaging? Given that diagnostics used to be a matter of guesswork at best, or exploratory surgery at worst, the ability of medical imaging equipment to provide a non-invasive alternative revolutionized medicine. We’ve come a long way from Alexander Graham Bell’s primitive metal detector; now, radiography, magnetic resonance imaging, and ultrasound are giving diagnosticians and doctors an unprecedented level of visibility into the body. What types of medical imaging equipment might your practice benefit from?


X-rays use precisely-targeted radiation in small doses, combined with a capture medium (either film or digital) to produce images of bones, hard tissue, and even tumors. In some cases, a contrast solution can be used to highlight soft tissue.

Best Uses for X-Rays

A wide variety of x-ray machines are in common use, including:


Ultrasound works on somewhat the same principle as sonar. It uses extremely high-frequency sound to show interior views in detail. Because results are displayed in real-time, they can be delivered faster than some other forms of diagnostics.

Best Uses for Ultrasound

Because ultrasound equipment does not use radiation, it’s safe for use by those who may be pregnant; it’s also occasionally used for guidance during surgery.

Computerized Tomography

Computerized tomography and computerized axial tomography (CT and CAT scans, respectively) combine x-rays with computer technology that produces cross-sections in higher detail than is possible with conventional x-ray technology.

Best Uses for CT Scans

CT and CAT scans are often used as a diagnostic follow-up to x-rays when a more detailed view is required. As with x-rays, a contrast solution can be employed to enhance those details, making this type of scan a good way to monitor the progression of healing or the effects of cancer treatment.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Like an ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) foregoes radiation altogether, using radio waves and strong magnets in place of gamma rays. While the technique may superficially look the same as a CT scan, the advantage here is a much higher level of detail, especially in soft tissue.

Best Uses for MRI

MRIs are especially useful in detecting injuries to the central nervous system, circulatory disorders, and other types of organ damage that the methods above may not be able to detect.

Other Advances in Medical Imaging

There are, of course, other forms of medical imaging, including electroencephalograms, echocardiograms, positron emission tomography, and newer diagnostics like functional near-infrared spectroscopy and photoacoustic imaging. As with the modalities we’ve already discussed, each has particular best use cases, from cancer treatment to dementia diagnosis.

Medical Imaging Equipment in the Detroit Area

As we’ve seen, each imaging technique comes with particular strengths. For this reason, it’s not uncommon for practices to employ multiple types of imaging for different diagnostic needs. For help outfitting your practice with imaging equipment that is advanced, accurate, appropriate, and affordable, schedule a consultation with Coastal Medical Imaging today.