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Medical Imaging Workstations Means More Effectiveness

The medical imaging workstation is situated in the field of information technology and has become an essential device in the clinical workflow of radiology departments. The images produced by digital x-ray computed radiography, direct digital radiography, computed tomography (CT) scanner, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, ultrasound or any of the other digital imaging tools are stored in the medical imaging’s workstation’s PACS (or picture archiving and communication system), and then may be retrieved, viewed and worked on, according to need.

The medical imaging workstation system was created in order to provide more economical and efficient storage of images, while giving quick access to rapid image retrieval, reports from multiple modalities and concurrent access from several different workstations at the same time. A PACS medical imaging workstation consists of four main mechanisms: imaging modalities such as CT and MRI, a protected system for the transmission of patient information, workstations for interpreting and reviewing images, and archives for the storage and retrieval of images and reports. Combined with already obtainable, as well as up-and-coming internet technology, PACS has the capability of distributing efficient, quick access to images, interpretations, and related data. PACS breaks down the physical and time barriers associated with traditional film-based image retrieval, distribution, and display, saving medical facilities both time and money.

In the past, before the existence of medical imaging workstations, everything had to be printed out on paper and film imaging necessitated expensive, toxic chemicals. In addition, thousands of patient records had to be stores in a hard copy format, which had to be organized and weren’t easy to access. Since PACS and other types of medical imaging workstations have been developed, medical facility efficiency has greatly improved, the time wasted on routine tasks has decreased and most importantly, the focus on caring for the patient has become easier as many tasks are automated.

This means that physicians and technicians consulting on a patient’s case can easily view the same images and communicate with each other. Most medical imaging workstations allow you to sort through thousands of digital images and work with the ones you want, while sharing them with others both onsite and offsite. Daily work can be backed-up and automatically and information from multiple workstations can be stored on a server both onsite and offsite.

Many medical imaging workstations also allow you to add text to digital images. High-resolution display monitors are used to guarantee high-quality presentation of the images, and a color display monitor is also available for use with the radiology information system (RIS), so that color images can be best viewed. The RIS part of the system allows you to schedule patients, order tests, and write reports, upgrading your radiology department for the ultimate in efficiency.

Obstetric Ultrasound Scanners Explained

Obstetric ultrasound scanning is an ultrasound imaging method designed to be used to augment physical examinations in the course of prenatal care. There are a large variety of uses for obstetric ultrasound, and this procedure has become a routine part of prenatal care for many women, especially women throughout Europe and North America. It has become quite common for parents to request print-outs of the images of their growing infant and the technician frequently prints out pictures for them to see and explains the fetus’s configuration as seen on screen to the parents, during the course of the obstetric ultrasound scan.

In obstetric ultrasound imaging, high-frequency sound waves are bounced off the body to create an accurate image of the inside of the uterus. Very high frequency sound waves of between 3.5 to 7.0 megahertz (3.5 to 7 million cycles per second) are normally used for this purpose. This is achieved by using a transducer which emanates waves and generates an image based on the length of the response time and the changes in frequency. The obstetric ultrasound results created can be either a still or moving image, with advanced technology being implemented to create three-dimensional ultrasound images which provide even more specific details. The obstetric ultrasound image may be acquired by covering the woman’s abdomen in a conductive gel and running the transducer along the belly, or by inserting the transducer into the vaginal canal to get a clearer image, which is known as a transvaginal ultrasound. The resulting image gives a picture of the uterus and its contents, along with adjacent body structures. These measurements outline the foundation in the assessment of gestational age, size and growth in the fetus. A full bladder is often compulsory for the procedure when abdominal scanning is done in the early stages of pregnancy. There may be some discomfort from pressure on the full bladder.

There are a wide variety of uses for obstetric ultrasound. Obstetric ultrasound imaging is customarily used to evaluate a pregnancy. This may include determining how far along the pregnancy is and confirming that the fetus is developing normally. Movements such as fetal heart beat and abnormalities in the fetus can be appraised and measurements can be made accurately based on the images displayed on the monitor. An ultrasound can also be used specifically to check for fetal malformations or problems, including a detached placenta. If a mother comes with pregnancy complications indicating fetal distress, obstetric ultrasound may be used as a diagnostic tool to check on the status of the baby without having to use invasive techniques which could jeopardize the pregnancy.

As there are various obstetric applications, different types of obstetric ultrasound probes are required, depending on which is indicated. If an obstetric ultrasound scanner model has fixed probes, then it may only be suitable for a limited subset of applications. For this reason, it is common for ultrasound systems to have interchangeable probes, and they frequently have more than one probe connection socket for the different applications.

Understanding Diffusion MRI

Diffusion MRI is a well-known and widely accepted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methodology which generates in vivo images of biological tissues weighted with the local microstructural characteristics of water diffusion, providing an effective way of visualizing functional connectivities in the nervous system. This relatively new and powerful imaging technology gives us further tools to study variations and development of normal brain anatomy, and diagnose disruption to the white matter in neurological disease or psychiatric disorder. Diffusion MRI helps us to better understand the structural organization of the brain through an identification of the neural connectivity patterns with the help of Diffusion Tensor Imaging and High Angular Resolution Diffusion Imaging.

Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, boosted by established successes in clinical neurodiagnostics and powerful new applications for studying the anatomy of the brain in vivo, has been an important area of research in the past decade. Current clinical applications are based on many different types of contrast, such as contrast in relaxation times for T1- or T2-weighted MR imaging, in time of flight for MR angiography, in blood oxygen level dependency for functional MR imaging, and in diffusion for apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) imaging. Even more highly developed technologies than these are in use today for the study of brain connectivity and neural fiber tract anatomy.

Over the years, increasingly complex data acquisition schemes have been developed, while the theoretical foundations of diffusion MRI have come to be better understood. For the radiologist who wants to use these techniques in clinical practice and research, it is important to understand a few key principles of diffusion MRI, as follows:

A recent advance in MRI known as Diffusion MRI looks at the random motion of water particles in the body. This is particularly interesting when taking images of the brain, because water tends to move more along the directions of the connections inside the brain. These connections in the brain, known as "white matter", are crucial to keeping the brain working correctly. They are the pathways that carry information from one part of the brain to another, and if they are damaged, the brain cannot perform even the most simple tasks. Diffusion MRI is unique in its ability to study these pathways, based on how water flows along them.

There are many diseases that affect the white matter in the brain, and it can be very hard to understand exactly how the disease attacks the white matter, to predict how the disease will develop in a particular person, and to decide what the right treatment is for that person. Fortunately, because diffusion MRI is sensitive to changes in white matter, it is an excellent way of finding out about these diseases. For example, if the disease is breaking down the pathways, water stops moving along them, or leaks out of them, and diffusion MRI pinpoints this for diagnostic purposes.

Urodynamic Measuring Systems

Current economic conditions are affecting manufacturers of all types of medical equipment, including urodynamic measuring equipment. With the economy still on shaky ground and the fact that it is becoming more difficult to obtain bank loans Urologists, Gynecologists and urology clinics that have been considering purchasing new urodynamic equipment are considering other options including used or refurbished urodynamic equipment, or outsourcing to specialized urodynamic clinics.

Urodynamics refers to a group of procedures performed to examine voiding (urinating) disorders. The goal of the diagnosis and treatment of these disorders is to both protect kidney function and to keep the patient comfortable. Any procedure designed to provide information and/or diagnosis about a bladder problem is called a urodynamic test. The specific type of test is dependent on the patients’ symptoms. Urodynamic studies are performed when the patient has one of the following symptoms: frequent urination, incontinence or difficulties in emptying the bladder.

Urodynamic systems are used for the study of bladder and urethral functions using pressure and flow measurements. Urine flow testing is an essential part of urodynamic study, and flow meters are used for uroflowmetry, which is a test that measures the volume of urine released from the body, the speed with which it is released, and how long the release takes.

Urodynamic study usually includes some or all of the following measurements:

  • Filling cystometry - This test measures bladder capacity, bladder contractions and urinary leakage.
  • Voiding uroflometry - This test measures the strength of the urinary flow, as well as the amount of urine left in the bladder after voiding.
  • Urethral pressure study - This test measures the pressure and flow of urine out of the bladder, using a sensor placed in the urethra.
  • Video cystourethrography - This test helps to identify structural problems in the bladder or urethra. The bladder is filled with contrast fluid and X-rays are taken as the fluid is voided.
  • Electromyogram – This urodynamics test helps measure muscle contractions that control urination.

Urodynamic systems are usually designed to be portable and many are fitted with a cart and a computer monitoring system.

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