Change in health care has been rapid in the last two decades with new technologies being invented every day. The radiology department has seen many of these changes. With each new technology advancement, the employees in these departments must be willing to adapt and learn how to use new equipment in order to provide patients with more efficient care. Among the changes that have developed digital imaging, portable x-rays, artificial intelligence systems, MIP/three-dimensional reconstructions, electronic ordering, surgical imaging equipment, fluoroscopy, and automatic image stitching have significantly changed the way medical imaging has flowed and improved to benefit of the patient and technologists.

Before digital imaging came along, technologists would have to run film through a developer and determine whether this film was suitable for diagnosing the patient. This was a several minute process. Today with digital imaging x-rays are available for instant review after exposure. The image is on the screen within seconds of taking the x-ray. Digital systems have automatic exposure chambers that measure the amount of radiation until a threshold is reached and then it disables the x-ray. The software is able to determine when the body part has received an adamant amount of radiation to create a quality image. This helps to control how much radiation the patient is receiving. In turn, this cuts down on potential side effects that patients can receive from too much radiation exposure. Digital images are stored with the PACS digital system, saving environmental waste. It also makes it easier to access by the patient and other health care providers. Portable radiology significantly benefits patients who are unable to transport very well. Being able to bring the machine to them provides more comfort for the patient. It also reduces strain on the technologist body if they are not having to pull on the patient to get them onto the x-ray table. Mobile imaging is also an option for patients who do not want to leave their home. These portable machines are brought by technologists to the comfort of their home. This is a great option for people who are immunocompromised and do not want to enter any health care facilities from fear of getting sick. Artificial intelligence systems are becoming popular with more research becoming available. Radiologists are able to get some workload relief with these systems sifting through images. AI is able to alert radiologists of abnormalities identified so patients are receiving vital care sooner than usual. MRI technologists can use AI systems to help determine where the scan parameters need to be in order to scan the patient quicker. PET scans use AI to monitor the progression of illness. If facilities have this software, they are able to monitor if tumors are growing or shrinking as a result of treatment. MIP images are an addition to CT and MRI angiography scans that create better resolution images for radiologists to review. This software finds the most pixelated images and creates images focusing on just these parts of the image. Three-dimensional imaging takes pixels of the axial images from a scan and stacks them on top of each other to create a three-dimensional look. These are often used for surgical mapping, localizing foreign bodies, and identifying the specifics of a fracture. Electronic ordering makes it easier for orders to be checked for errors and to be changed should they need to be. They also allow for better translation for registration to be able to read the order written by the doctor. C-arms are used in surgery to assist surgeons in localizing the area of the body they want to see. Orthopedics use the c-arm to reduce fractures and to add plates, pins, and screws. Other surgeons use c-arms as well. Fluoroscopy is used in the radiology department with the assistance of the radiologist. Patients receive swallowing tests, barium enemas, arthrograms, myelograms, and even bladder fluoroscopic exams. Automatic stitching programs allow for the attachment of multiple radiologic images to make one long x-ray. This is usually used on lower limb x-rays as well as scoliosis studies.

There are more changes to radiology than I can fit into this paper, but I will focus on the ones that I think made the most impact. The patient is the biggest benefactor when these innovations are made is the patient. The changes that come about reduce errors and create a safer and more pleasant experience for the patient. Digital imaging, portable x-rays, artificial intelligence systems, MIP/three-dimensional reconstructions, electronic ordering, surgical imaging equipment, fluoroscopy, and automatic image stitching all invoked change that created a better imaging experience for the patient, the technologists, and the ordering physicians.

Year Manuscript Completed

Fall 2023

Senior Project Advisor

Michael Barton

Degree Awarded

Bachelor of Integrated Studies Degree

Field of Study

Health Care Administration

Document Type