One second in the emergency room can make the difference between life and death. Moving patients through triage and evaluation quickly is vital. Intrusive scans not only take up valuable time but can also be uncomfortable and costly for the patient. Save time and resources by trying one of these four non-intrusive scans before you escalate a patient.
X-rays are one of the oldest types of imaging still used in medical practice today. This technology is perfect for obtaining images of hard tissues like bones and teeth. An x-ray is often the first scan performed when bone fractures are suspected. Pneumonia and certain kinds of tumors can also be detected with an x-ray. A big advantage of x-ray is that it’s very affordable compared to other types of imaging.
An ultrasound is usually the first type of imaging used to examine soft tissues. One of its most common applications is to detect and monitor pregnancies, but ultrasound is also used to check for tumors or cysts and to examine internal organs. Ultrasound is quick, painless and does not expose the patient to radiation or any other risks.
Thermal imaging is a new and growing technology that uses a thermal camera to visualize temperature differences both on the skin’s surface and inside the body. These images can assist in the detection and treatment of certain cancers, including skin cancer and breast cancer. Thermal imaging is also useful in the monitoring of chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis. Because this technology is still in its infancy, the potential applications for it will only increase over time.
A CT scan uses multiple radiation beams to obtain a very detailed image of the patient’s body. This type of imaging can detect abnormalities in many parts of the body, such as the thyroid, lungs and heart. Sometimes a contrast medium is used in conjunction with the scan to better visualize structures like veins and arteries. The downside of a CT scan is that it exposes the patient to a large amount of radiation. Because multiple CT scans can increase a person’s cancer risk, they should be used sparingly.
Whatever type you choose, non-intrusive scans are a great place to start for most patients, but some may still require more invasive follow-up procedures like exploratory surgery or endoscopy. However, technological advances are leading toward newer and better non-invasive imaging that reduces the need for the uncomfortable and time-consuming tests.