What Is Diagnostic Imaging?

Learn how diagnostic imaging is transforming healthcare and allowing for early detection

Diagnostic imaging encompasses a range of technologies used to visually capture the interior of the body, enabling healthcare professionals to accurately diagnose, monitor, and treat various medical conditions. The significance of diagnostic imaging in healthcare is undeniable; it’s essential for early detection of diseases, guiding treatment decisions, evaluating the treatment effectiveness, and monitoring disease progression. With advancements in imaging technology, doctors can get detailed images with minimal invasiveness, improve patient outcomes, and contribute significantly to patient care.

Understanding Diagnostic Imaging

Diagnostic imaging includes X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, and positron emission tomography (PET) scans. Each technique offers different advantages for viewing soft tissues, bones, or blood vessels, providing crucial information that can’t be obtained from physical exams. 

Diagnostic imaging reveals internal abnormalities, helps doctors accurately diagnose conditions, guides surgical procedures and treatments by offering real-time images, evaluates the effectiveness of ongoing treatments, and monitors disease progression The ability to visualize the internal state of the body in a non-invasive way has revolutionized medical diagnostics, targeting treatments and reducing the need for exploratory surgery.

Types of diagnostic imaging tests

What is a diagnostic imaging test and what is it used for? Diagnostic imaging allows for precise and accurate diagnosis, tracking, and management of some medical conditions. Types and uses include:

  • X-rays: Electromagnetic waves produce images of bones and certain body tissues. X-rays detect bone fractures, infections, or tumors.
  • CT Scans (Computed Tomography): CT Scans combine multiple X-ray images taken from different angles to create cross-sectional views of the body. CT scans show details of bones, blood vessels, and soft tissues, helping diagnose cancer, cardiovascular disease, and trauma injuries.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI):  MRIs use strong magnetic fields and radio waves to generate detailed images of organs and tissues. MRI is especially useful for imaging the brain, spinal cord, joints, and soft tissues.
  • Ultrasound: Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the inside of the body. In obstetrics, it monitors fetal development and examines organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys.
  • PET Scans (Positron Emission Tomography): Injects a small amount of radioactive material into the body to highlight areas of high chemical activity. PET scans are used in oncology for cancer detection and to monitor treatment progress. 

The Spectrum of Diagnostic Imaging

Diagnostic imaging helps diagnose, monitor, and manage medical conditions affecting organs like the heart, lungs, breasts, brain, and others. Each imaging modality has specific applications, strengths, and limitations, allowing healthcare providers to choose the most appropriate technique based on the patient’s symptoms, condition, and medical history. Here are a few ways imaging modalities are applied:


  • Echocardiogram (Ultrasound of the heart): Assesses heart function, structure, and motion, detecting issues like valve problems, heart failure, and congenital heart defects.
  • Coronary Angiography: Uses X-ray imaging to see your heart’s blood vessels, identifying blockages or narrowing that could lead to a heart attack.
  • Cardiac MRI: Provides detailed images of the heart’s anatomy and function,  helping to assess heart disease, congenital heart defects, and damage from heart attacks.


  • Chest X-ray: Examines the lungs, heart, and chest wall, diagnosing pneumonia, emphysema, and lung cancer.
  • CT Scan of the Chest: Provides a detailed view of lung tissue, detecting lung nodules, tumors, and complications from COPD.
  • Pulmonary Angiography: An X-ray that examines blood vessels in the lungs, identifying pulmonary embolisms or other blood vessel disorders.


  • CT Scan of the Head: Quickly visualizes fractures, hemorrhages, and other abnormalities within the brain.
  • MRI of the Brain: Offers detailed images of brain tissue, identifying tumors, strokes, developmental anomalies, infections, or multiple sclerosis.
  • PET Scan: Used in neurology to detect areas of the brain affected by conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, location of seizures, and evaluating brain tumors.

What is diagnostic breast imaging?

Mammography, the cornerstone of breast cancer screening, uses low-dose X-rays to capture images of breast tissue. It consists of screening mammograms, for women without symptoms, and diagnostic mammograms, when there are signs of cancer or after a screening mammogram that shows abnormalities. It’s effective in identifying early-stage cancers. Breast cancer screening and diagnosis are vital for detecting the disease in its earliest and most treatable stages, dramatically improving patient outcomes. 

Breast MRIs are used for high-risk individuals or in cases where mammography results are inconclusive. Using magnetic fields and radio waves, produces detailed breast images, offering additional clarity, especially in dense breast tissue where mammograms may be less effective. While not a routine screening tool for all, MRI is invaluable for women with a high genetic risk of breast cancer or ambiguous mammographic findings, aiding in early detection. 

The Purpose and Benefits of Diagnostic Imaging

By creating detailed images of the body’s internal structures, diagnostic imaging enables healthcare professionals to pinpoint the cause of an ailment with precision. It diagnoses conditions accurately and formulates targeted treatment plans. Through X-rays, MRI, CT scans, and ultrasound, doctors can observe the precise location and extent of an issue, whether it’s a broken bone, a tumor, or an infection, leading to more effective and timely interventions.

Beyond diagnosis, diagnostic imaging monitors the effectiveness of ongoing treatments, allowing doctors to adjust therapies based on the disease’s response. For chronic conditions, like cancer or heart disease, imaging tests are invaluable tools for tracking progress and adapting treatment strategies. Diagnostic screening tests provide the benefit of non-invasive early detection before symptoms arise, significantly improving the chances of successful tailored treatment and survival. Diagnostic imaging saves lives and enhances the quality of healthcare.

Diagnostic Imaging Technologies and Innovations

Diagnostic imaging technologies have seen remarkable advancements, significantly enhancing the precision and efficiency of medical diagnostics. Digital imaging has revolutionized traditional methods, offering clearer, more detailed images while reducing radiation exposure. 3D imaging technologies, like 3D CT scans and MRI, enable doctors to assess and diagnose with unprecedented accuracy. 

Integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) in diagnostic imaging marks a significant leap forward. AI algorithms analyze images faster and more accurately than the human eye, identifying subtle changes that indicate early disease. This technology can predict disease progression and treatment response, paving the way for personalized medicine and setting new standards in patient care, making diagnostic imaging quicker, safer, and more informative.

Future trends in diagnostic imaging will further revolutionize healthcare integrating Artificial Intelligence for enhanced image analysis, developing portable and less invasive imaging technologies, and advancing molecular imaging for personalized medicine. These innovations improve diagnostic accuracy, patient comfort, and treatment customization, leading to better health outcomes and more efficient care.

Preparing for a Diagnostic Imaging Test

Preparing for a diagnostic imaging test involves following guidelines to ensure accurate results. Patients may be asked to fast, wear comfortable clothing, or avoid certain medications. Preparation varies with each imaging technique. MRI patients might need to remove all metal objects due to the magnet’s influence, while those undergoing a CT scan might drink a contrast solution. During the test, patients can expect to be positioned on an exam table, with technicians providing instructions so clear images are captured. Results are reviewed by a radiologist and discussed with the patient by their healthcare provider to determine the next steps in care or treatment.

Diagnostic Imaging at Portland Wellness Care

Portland Wellness Care integrates state-of-the-art technology in diagnostic imaging into patient comfort and care with advanced diagnostic imaging to provide accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plans. By incorporating X-rays, MRI, CT scans, and ultrasound, our healthcare providers identify medical conditions and adjust treatment strategies for better health outcomes for our patients which proves our commitment to putting patient care first.  

The use of diagnostic imaging enables early detection of diseases, offers preventative care, guides treatment decisions, evaluates treatment effectiveness, and monitors disease progression. With advancements in diagnostic imaging, detailed images are created with minimal invasiveness to enhance patient health and recovery. 

For more information or to schedule a diagnostic imaging test, contact us at Portland Wellness Care.


Portland Wellness Care offers free consultations for patients who have questions, such as: What is the best treatment plan for me? What services will help me most? What the out-of-pocket costs might I incurred? How long will my treatment plan last?
or call us today at (971) 379-2455
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