Medical Imaging in the Digital Age

Updated: Feb 13

What is digital medical imaging?

While medical imaging was once limited to things such as analog x-ray machines, modern imaging solutions mean that healthcare providers are able to explore the human body in a more sophisticated and enlightening way than ever before. Digital medical imaging technology has opened doors to more accurate diagnosis and more efficient processes all around.

Nowadays there are many different branches of medical imaging, ranging from the more well-known such as radiography and ultrasound to newer imaging techniques such as functional near-infrared spectroscopy (FNIRS) and photoacoustic imaging.

What is digital medical imaging?

As mentioned, medical imaging is the process of using technology to produce images of the inside of the human body, in order to aid diagnosis and speed up treatment. Digital medical imaging, or DMI, simply means that, rather than taking images with film and storing them physically, healthcare providers are now able to upload and analyze images instantly.

Furthermore, digital medical imaging has evolved to give birth to a whole range of new, purely digital technologies that allow for greater insights than ever before. Here are a few of the most common kinds of digital medical imaging:

  • Radiography

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

  • Nuclear medicine

  • Ultrasound

  • Elastography

  • Photoacoustic imaging

  • Thermography

  • Computed Tomography (CT)

  • Echocardiography

  • Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS)

  • Magnetic Particle Imaging

Each of these either performs a different function or provides a different way to achieve a similar function. As such, most of them are commonly used in many healthcare facilities across the globe.

What is medical imaging used for?

In order to properly diagnose and treat patients, doctors need to get as much information as possible. For years they could only go off of the information that the patient could give them, as well as any external symptoms. But with digital medical imaging, doctors can get a closer look at relevant areas of the body — and crucially — look inside without needing to use invasive methods such as surgeries or endoscopies.

To illustrate, consider these examples of some different types of medical scans that use radiology or other digital medical imaging, and what they are used for:


Most people both in and outside of medicine are aware of ultrasound, as this is one of the most common forms of radiology, mostly for pregnant women. The reason for this is that it is free of harmful side effects, and both safe and cost-effective.


If there is a more common form of radiology, it is most certainly radiography or, as it is most commonly known, x-ray. X-rays are effective for viewing and diagnosing problems that affect bones, as well as detecting cancer in things such as mammograms.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

You are perhaps familiar with these large, full-body scans. MRIs are used to generate images that aren’t seen well using x-rays or CT scans, such as inside joints or ligaments. This is why they are commonly used to diagnose brain trauma.

Computed Tomography (CT)

CT scans offer a middle ground between MRIs and regular x-rays. They are used to provide detailed images of things such as bones, organs, and tissue in the body.

When it comes to digital medical imaging, enterprise imaging solutions allow medical practices to improve all of these workflows by making it easy to share images instantaneously between departments and facilities.

In this way, healthcare providers are more fully able to take advantage of the opportunities that digital medical imaging offers for enabling more efficient and effective healthcare.

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