How They Spot Brain Disease—10 Fascinating Imaging Facts


Imaging (e.g., X-rays), as an area in medicine, is without doubt one of the most interesting - both from a scientific and a layman’s perspective.  For one thing, imaging is hardly a static area of study—in fact, it is continuously being perfected, thus allowing for things that were only dreamed of years ago.

First of all, imaging began as a diagnostic tool and it mainly involved X-rays.  Today, however, the list of options physicians have to look inside the human body is mind-boggling.  Also, imaging is no longer about diagnostics; with such things as interventional radiology, it’s also about treatment (e.g., radiation therapy).

Not only are there more ways to look inside the human body, but there are now safer ways to look at sensitive parts of the body—the brain, of course, being an excellent example.  Just as ultrasonography has made it possible to safely look at a fetus in the womb, we now have neurological imaging technology that allows us to look at the brain (and its system of nerves throughout the body) to both spot and treat disease. 


--“We no longer have to rely on radioactive sources/technology to look inside the body.”

Thanks to sonography and MRIs, for example, it is now possible to use things like sound waves, radio waves and electromagnetism to diagnose intricate medical problems.  In fact, these new technologies can help spot problems not discernible or more-difficult-to-identify using older technologies.

--“With the use of functional MRIs (fMRIs), it is possible to see both functional and anatomical parts/processes of the human body.”

This is rather useful for brain scans, especially involving blood flow; such technology can help alert physicians to potential stroke tendencies, for example.

--“There are now a number of relatively safe ways to look inside the brain.”

These can include EEGs, CAT scans, Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), Optical Intrinsic Signal (OIS), Event-Related Optical Signal (EROS) and PET cans.  MRIs, however, are often the preferred choice because of their detailed, high-quality imaging; regardless of the cost of an MRI, they also protect patients from the potential effects of ionizing radiation.

--“Another promising new imaging tool that involves magnetic fields is the magnetoencephalography scanner or MEG.”

An MEG scan is yet another piece of evidence that magnetic fields are safe and reliable means by which to image the human body.

--“Neurological imaging has replaced formerly highly-invasive diagnostic tools.

Patients, for example, were often cut up in the past just to ascertain whether a growth was present inside or near the brain; MRIs have removed this need, which often led to unnecessary invasive procedures.

--“Neurological imaging is helping psychiatry better understand the pathophysiology of many common diseases.”

While imaging cannot by itself be used to diagnose mental problems, it is helping doctors to better understand how these problems (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.) may develop or progress, especially from a chemical/bioelectrical standpoint.

--“Diffusion tensor imaging is helping scientists understand how the human brain develops from childhood.”

This may help greatly in better diagnosing/understanding pathophysiology, especially in regards to the brain.

--“Discoveries of things like Pittsburgh Compound B may help understand complicated diseases like Alzheimer’s.” 

Related research involving neurological imaging is also opening hitherto-closed doors for diseases like spinal cord injuries/disorders and multiple sclerosis.

--“The ability to store and process images produced by MRIs allows for the study of the often-subtle changes (such as in growth) of brain matter.”

These discoveries should lead to more adequate/accurate therapies and diagnostic opportunities.

--“Thanks to MRIs, medicine has acquired a much better understanding of strokes and how to best treat them.”

The new discoveries such imaging is making possible will also help in prevention programs. 


Neurological imaging is just one of the dozens of ways MRI technology is changing (for the better) the face of medicine.  Thanks to these technologies, people will live longer and suffer less if they develop brain-related injuries and diseases.

Copyright, 2018.  Fred Fletcher.  All rights reserved.

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8/1/2018 7:00:00 AM
Fred Fletcher
Written by Fred Fletcher
Fred Fletcher is a hard working Consumer Advocacy Health Reporter. Education: HT-CNA; DT-ATA; MS/PhD Post-Graduate Certificates/Certifications: • Project Management • Food Safety • HIPAA Compliance • Bio-statistical Analysis & Reporting • Regulatory Medical Writing • Life Science Programs Theses & Dis...
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Good read, Fred!
Posted by Susan Blakely
Imaging technology is indeed getting to be very sophisticated. It's not just that we have DTI, OIS, EROS and MEG but that each is being improved with each passing year. Very informative article, Fred!
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