International Day of Radiology ‘Brain Imaging’

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CT scan or Computerized tomography is a specialized type of scan which uses X-rays. Images of the body are produced using very sophisticated software and can be viewed as 2-D or 3-D images. This facility is available in most major hospitals in the country.

 

 

ovember 8 marks yet another important day in the field of modern medicine as it signifies the International Day of Radiology (IdoR). This was the day Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered X-rays in 1895.

Medical imaging or Radiology which is one of the most exciting and progressive disciplines in medicine and a field of great activity in terms of research. X-rays, contrast examinations using X-ray dye, MRI scans, ultrasound and many other medical imaging techniques, as well as stunning images produced by them, are familiar to almost everyone today. Yet, the exact purpose and value of this aspect of medicine is very poorly understood. This day is now dedicated to appreciate the unsung work of all radiology professionals around the world as well as to create public awareness.

A theme is selected each year to highlight the important role that radiology plays in detection, diagnosis and management of a wide variety of diseases. The chosen theme for this year is, “Brain Imaging” as radiology is indispensable in diagnosis and management of neurological diseases. Most of the recent advances in radiology are in the field of central nervous system and encompasses functional imaging as well.

The concept of an International day of Radiology (IdoR) was established in 2012 as an initiative of the European Society of Radiology (ECR), the American  College of Radiology (ACR) and the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). Now it has expanded to involve more than 100 radiological societies in the world. We, the members of the Sri Lanka College of Radiologists, proudly join the international radiology fraternity in celebrating this grand event today.
The main goal of the events organised to commemorate the day is aimed at creating public awareness on the value of radiology in providing a better patient care and improving the understanding of the pivotal role that radiologists play in this aspect.

Therefore we would like to use this opportunity to educate the general public on the multiple facets of radiology and radiology professionals who are an indispensable component in the delivery of these services in Sri Lanka both at government and private hospitals.

First let’s see what comes under the purview of radiology. There are many types of special imaging equipment which are complimentary to each other. The X-rays are probably the best known among all radio-logical imaging modalities, and undoubtedly the most widely used too. X-rays can look through bones, soft tissues and any foreign objects that might have found their way into the body. Anybody who has had a fracture would have invariably had an X-Ray.

A fluoroscopy takes a real-time picture of the digestive system, Urinary tract, Blood vessels and many other systems and helps in diagnosis of many diseases. This also involves either oral intake or injection of a contrast medium which is the X-ray dye in common parlance.

The ultrasound scan is one of the commonly used examinations referred to as “The scan” by the people. During an ultrasound scan, the radiologist can see the growing baby inside a mother’s womb, can take a look at the kidneys, liver, spleen, pancreas and the abdomen. Specialized ultrasound scans of the breast, the thyroid and any superficial part of the body can be performed with much ease with no special preparation at all. Ultrasound scans are not only widely available but also the preferred first-line investigation in most of the ailments especially in children as it does not involve radiation.

CT scan or Computerized tomography is a specialized type of scan which uses X-rays. Images of the body are produced using very sophisticated software and can be viewed as 2-D or 3-D images. This facility is available in most major hospitals in the country. It is primarily indicated to image the brain especially following trauma or stroke. In addition lungs, blood vessels, organs in the abdomen and bones are clearly depicted. Ability to complete a scan within a few seconds comes very handy in imaging children and the very ill.

MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging is another sophisticated imaging modality. It is a scanner which uses a magnetic field instead of x-rays to acquire pictures of the body. As in the CT scanner, the pictures thus formed are further developed using advanced software. Initially MRI scans were mainly performed to image diseases of the brain and spine. But at present, MRI has advanced to a stage where functional and molecular aspects of the brain also can be obtained.

This being an expensive equipment is available only in major government and private hospitals. Absence of radiation is a major advantage in MRI.
A couple of hospitals in Sri Lanka have the facilities to perform scans using radio-activity or radioisotopes. These scans have the ability to evaluate the functions of various organs in the body to assess how they are affected in various diseases.

Radiologists play a pivotal role in diagnosis of disease since they are the specialized professionals who could interpret the images of the body created by the aforementioned  machines. Often the yeoman service rendered by radiologists in this context is not obvious to the general public. Thus they are the least appreciated in the whole process. Radiologists are specialized medical professionals who have undergone more than five years of post graduate training in radiology after a basic medical degree. They provide their expert opinion and diagnosis to clinicians who will decide on treatment depending on radiologists’ report. The College of Radiologists in Sri Lanka is the main professional body of radiologists in the country. The radiologists are supported by radiographers who help in operating equipment and the medical physicists who monitor safe functioning of these equipments.

As many events are on the cards to mark the International day of radiology, our aim as radiologists is to raise public awareness about this vital branch of medicine and its contribution to diagnosis of diseases. We also would like to stress that most of these tests and scans are quite expensive although they are offered free of charge in government hospitals. Therefore it is the duty of the patient to attend to these examinations, prepared as instructed, because it would have an impact on the result. This would help us to provide our services to a greater number of patients with more efficiency.

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