Do you have a visit to the doctor coming up? If so, there is a chance that the doctor may take a few pictures of you. Now, this isn’t a literal picture with a Polaroid camera, but these are medical images that could help the doctor make decisions about what to do next. There are numerous types of medical imaging, and it is important for you to be familiar with some of the differences. What are some of the types of medical images that a doctor might take? Learn more about this process below.


Arguably the most common type of medical image is an x-ray. This was the first type of imaging used, and it is still incredibly common today. There are a lot of advantages that come from an x-ray. It is fast, inexpensive, and does not require a lot of radiation. During an x-ray, a small beam of radiation will be fired through the intended tissue. Then, an image is generated based on the density of the material through which the radiation beam passes. Happy materials, such as bone, show up white. Light materials, such as liquid, show up dark. It is commonly used to diagnose bone fractures.

CT Scan

Another common type of medical image is a CT scan. Essentially, this is an x-ray in three dimensions. CT stands for computed tomography. And vision an x-ray machine going around you in three dimensions to generate a more detailed image. A CT scan generates a sharper image than an x-ray. It is also very fast, only taking a few seconds. There are a few downsides of a CT scan. It is significantly more expensive than an x-ray, and it uses a lot of radiation. Because it is fast and detailed, it is usually done in emergency situations.


There is a chance that your doctor may also order an MRI. MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. Unlike an x-ray or a CT scan, it does not require any radiation. Instead, it uses a powerful magnet to generate a highly detailed image. Even though the picture is sharp, there are a few downsides of an MRI as well. First, because it is a powerful magnet, it cannot be used to take pictures of metallic items. If you have a metal implant, you may not be able to have an MRI scan. In addition, an MRI scan takes a long time. It is also very expensive.


Finally, there is also a chance that a doctor may order an ultrasound scan. An ultrasound scan is useful in a wide variety of situations. It does not require any radiation, and it takes a live image. As a result, ultrasound machines can be incredibly useful. Furthermore, there are a lot of medical offices that are looking for refurbished ultrasound machines. Even though an ultrasound machine will not generate the most detailed image in the world, it is inexpensive, fast, and can be used in an emergency situation. As a result, this is an incredibly popular imaging modality.

Learn More About Medical Imaging

Even though there are other types of medical imaging, these are the most common examples. It is important for you to be familiar with these medical images because the doctor may use them to decide how to take care of you. The doctor may also ask you what type of medical imaging you prefer. If you have questions or concerns about these various modalities, you should talk to a doctor about what to do next. That way, you can make the best decision regarding your medical care.