What is it and How Does it Work?
Neuroimaging is a collection of techniques used to take images of various
parts of the nervous system. This offshoot of radiology is still somewhat
of a new field when it comes to medicine, but it is proving to be quite
important. The images of the brain and the nervous system can help neurologists
gain more insight into what is happening with their patients. It helps
with more than just diagnosis though. Many are using it to gain a better
overall understanding of how the brain works and how various stimuli affect it.
Two Types of Neuroimaging
The process of neuroimaging provides doctors with visual information into
what the brain is doing at any given point, and this is very helpful in
understanding just how the brain performs, over the course of an individual's lifespan.
There are two types of this imaging specialty that exist today, which include:
Functional neuroimaging is useful for diagnosing various types of metabolic
diseases as well as lesions. For example, it is one of the ways that doctors
can diagnose Alzheimer's disease. It's also helpful for cognitive
and neurological psychologists.
Structural imaging looks at the actual structures of the central nervous
system. It can help to diagnose various types of injuries and diseases
in the brain, such as the appearance of tumors.
In addition to MRIs and CT scans, other technologies used for neuroimaging
today include PET, or Positron Emission Topography, and Magneto Encephalography.
All of the different types of optical imaging used today help doctors
get a much better view into the brain's function. More technologies
are coming to light, and the future looks very bright for this type of imaging.
Which patients can benefit from neuroimaging?
Doctors will generally only request that a patient undergo this type of
imaging when it is believed there is a problem with brain function. Testing
may also be required to rule out the possibility of brain issues when
trying to make a diagnosis. Other times, neurologists may be looking for
patients to join a study group that involves neuroimaging.
Neuroimaging Procedure Types Can Vary
Neuroimaging is actually very common today, and patients should not worry
if they have to go through one of the procedures. Neuroimaging is very
safe and can help the medical team get to the bottom of what might be
wrong. Sometimes, this modality can uncover the missing piece in a diagnostic
puzzle for both the treating physician and his or her patient.
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