Computers And The New Era Of Radiology
Except for ultrasound, from the day Roentgen discovered the x ray until the early 1970s, radiology relied solely on the application of x rays through refined radiographic techniques. These applications were limited by the x ray's ability to discern only four different kinds of matter in the body: air, fat, water (which helps make up tissue), and minerals (like bone). In addition, while the x ray images bone well, it cannot image what lies behind the bone unless angiography is used. For example, a standard x ray could reveal damage to the skull but would not reveal tumors or bleeding vessels in the brain unless they calcified or caused changes to the skull. Although the development of angiography allowed scientists to view the arteries in the brain, angiography is somewhat painful for the patient and does not reveal smaller but still serious tumors and lesions.
The high-tech era of radiology coincided with rapid advances in computer technology. By using computers to analyze and interpret vast quantities of data, scientists began to develop new and better ways to image the body. Imaging processes like computed tomography, positron emission tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and single photo emission computed tomography all rely on the computer. With these techniques, radiologists are able to diagnose a wider range of diseases and abnormalities within the body.