Long gone are the days when patients had to cough up blood to realize there’s something terribly wrong going on inside their bodies. Medicine has since advanced greatly, with much better tools to diagnose, treat, and even prevent all kinds of diseases.
Such advancement may not be very surprising with most branches of medicine. When it comes to radiology, however, it’s awestricking to learn about the new practices radiologists can now do to, not just diagnose, but also promote prevention of diseases.
The recent years have shown significant development in modern imaging techniques. It’s become much easier to detect early onsets of tumors or vascular diseases, as such starting their treatment even before their life-degrading symptoms can arise.
New Practices That Radiologists Do To Promote Disease Prevention
Once considered as distant medical-technicians with little to no contact with patients, radiologists now have the big hand in changing many lives. Many resources are now available to help aspiring radiologists make the impact they dream of, with career and education guidance as provided by Radiologyed.org.
Even more, technology has made it much easier for radiologists to give their patients a much better quality of life with early screening and disease-prevention in these measures:
1. Low Dose CT-Screening of the Lung
Lung cancer is the leading cause of death due to cancer worldwide. As of 2018, there’s a 2.1 million new cases and 1.8 million deaths, most of whom are diagnosed when it’s already too far progressed. According to the American Lung association, if half of these high risk individuals were screened early on, over 12,000 lung cancer deaths could be prevented.
Low-dose CT screening comes in to aid with early detection, decreasing high-risk mortality by 14 to 20% among high-risk patients. This gives them the chance to be treated in less invasive ways.
2. Cardiac CT
For patients complaining of vague tightness of the chest, chest pain or stress-induced shortness of breath, proper diagnosis can be tricky. Especially patients suffering from atypical angina, which is usually caught too late after the episode has already taken place. A cardiac CT can be very appropriate in this case, with its ability to show atherosclerotic changes and stenoses (deformations) of the coronary vessels, long before they can be caught on traditional stress ECG or stress scintigraphy.
3. Cardiac MRI
With its high spatial and temporal resolution imaging, MRIs are able to provide answers for a wide array of disease patterns. It can be helpful in early detection of circulatory disorders such as coronary heart disease, valvular defects and the degree of their severity, inflammation of the heart muscles (aka. myocarditis) and other myocardial disorders, and acute or chronic heart attacks as well as their effects on cardiac function and success of treatment estimation. Most of those can not be identified with other traditional methods. A cardiac MRI can also illustrate the circulation of the heart muscles, detecting inflamed and scarred tissues. MRI follow ups also play an important role in assessing long-term treatment course of the disease, following cardiac catheter placements or surgeries.
4. CT-Scan of Coronary Calcification
A CT scan can easily detect coronary artery calcifications, the extent of which correlates significantly with developing a heart attack within the next 5 years. As such, it’s a very suitable preventive screening method for both exposed patient groups as well as for patients with high cardiac risk factors. Such procedure provides a safe, non-invasive and reliable assessment of the individual’s risk of developing a future (or present) coronary heart disease.
5. Full Body MRI
This procedure is highly accurate, non-invasive and time-saving; making it ideal for preventive screening, following up on malignant diseases, or excluding metastases of treated tumors. A full body MRI gives high resolution images of the whole body, enabling it to accurately represent inflammatory skeletal diseases and the progression of their activity.
6. Virtual Colonoscopy
For an early non-invasive detection of colorectal cancer without the hassle of intensive intestinal cleansing, a virtual colonoscopy can be done. Such procedure has a sensitivity of detecting polyps of 95%, competing with the capabilities of conventional colonoscopy.
7. Breast Diagnostics
A wide array of tests can be done for the early detection of breast cancer. Such tests can be carried on using mammography, breast MRI, breast ultrasound or a punch biopsy of the breast; all of which are non or minimally-invasive with highly accurate results.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
As the proverb says, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Thanks to technology, this has become much easier to achieve. And thanks to the ever developing medicine, medical professionals now have both the science and the tools to help individuals, long before they can be labelled as patients, live the best quality of life they can. For all of us normal people out here, it’d be wise to take good advantage of that.