Medical diagnostic imaging becomes essential when doctors need to take a closer look at what is happening in the patient’s body. There are different types of diagnostic imaging exams that can be performed and they provide results in images or pictures that can be used by doctors for making an accurate diagnosis and coming up with a treatment plan. Patients often become anxious when they are told that they will have to undergo diagnostic imaging, but there is no need to be so because these procedures are usually painless and non-invasive.

There are several kinds of diagnostic imaging tests and each provides images that are based on different technologies. One or several of these tests might be ordered by the doctor to help in ruling out or diagnosing some medical problems. Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of diagnostic imaging tests:


The most common diagnostic imaging exam is the X-ray, which includes many sub-categories. They are performed for diagnosis the extent of an injury, the cause of pain, checking the progression of a disease or evaluating the effectiveness of treatments. A small amount of radiation is used in X-rays and pictures are taken to see what’s going on inside the body.


Magnetic fields and radio waves are used in MRIs for producing three-dimensional pictures of the body. Doctors use them for diagnosing a wide array of health conditions. MRI technology can be used for producing images of hearts, joints, bones, the brain, blood vessels and more. No ionizing radiation is used in MRIs, which reduces the risk, but does not provide the best images in every circumstance. Doctors may often recommend CT scans to make a confirmed diagnosis.

CT Scans

Put simply, this is a kind of X-ray that provides three-dimensional views of the inside of the human body. Like traditional X-rays, ionizing radiation is used by CT scans for creating cross-sectional ‘slices’, which are then evaluated by the doctor. Depending on the organ or body part being evaluated, a contrast dye may be used in CT scans, which is inserted intravenously. This can allow the images to be more visible in some circumstances. Even though they can be used for every structure and organ in the body, sometimes MRIs are preferred over CT scans because it may give clearer images in some cases.


Another of the most common types of diagnostic imaging exams is the ultrasound, which is also known as sonography. Images within the body are captured by using high-frequency sound waves. It is often performed for detecting concerns with soft tissues, such as vessels and organs. As they do not involve any radiation, they are used for pregnant women as well. As for preparing for an ultrasound, it will depend on what area has to be examined. In some cases, patients may be required to fast and drink lots of water.

Apart from these exams, diagnostic imaging also involves a mammogram, PET scans and fluoroscopy, all of which can be quite useful in diagnosing medical problems.

Author's Bio: 

Contributed by Shiraz Kahn