Since Wilhelm Röntgen's discovery that X-rays can identify bony structures over 100 years ago, X-rays have been developed for their use in medical imaging. Radiology is a specialized field of medicine. This is the most common use of X-ray technology. X-rays are most useful in the detection of pathology, like broken bones. Some notable examples are the very common chest X-ray, which can be used to identify lung diseases such as pneumonia, lung cancer or pulmonary edema, and the abdominal X-ray, which can detect an ileus (blockage of the intestine), free air (from visceral perforations) and some kidney stones.


An ultrasound procedure is a non-invasive (the skin is not pierced) diagnostic procedure used to assess soft tissue structures such as muscles, blood vessels, and organs. Ultrasound uses a transducer that sends out ultrasonic sound waves at a frequency too high to be heard. When the transducer is placed at certain locations and angles, the ultrasonic sound waves move through the skin and other body tissues to the organs and structures within. The sound waves bounce off the organs like an echo and return to the transducer. The transducer picks up the reflected waves, which are then converted by a computer into an electronic picture of the organs or tissues under study.


CT or CAT scan; Computed axial tomography (CAT) scans are special X-ray tests that produce cross-sectional images of the body using X-rays and a computer. These images allow the radiologist, a medical doctor who specializes in interpreting images of the body, to look at the inside of the body. This type of special X-ray, in a sense, takes pictures of slices of the body so the doctor can look right at the area of interest. The CT scanner looks like a large doughnut with a narrow table in the middle. Due to the speed of this advanced imaging procedure, claustrophobia symptoms tend to not be an issue. Patients are not placed inside a tunnel; but rather moved in and out of the opening as the scanner takes the pictures. Depending on the exam you are having, you will lie on your back or stomach and move through the scanner either head first or feet first.

Boca Regional the first hospital in South Florida to offer patients “Flash CT,” which reduces imaging time to three to four seconds and radiation exposure up to 90 percent.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive way to image the body. Unlike X-rays and computed tomographic (CT) scans, which use radiation, MRI uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create images. The magnetic field forces hydrogen atoms in the body to line up in a certain way (similar to how the needle on a compass moves when you hold it near a magnet). When radio waves are sent toward the lined-up hydrogen atoms, they bounce back, and a computer records the signal. Different types of tissues send back different signals. For example, healthy tissue sends back a slightly different signal than abnormal tissue. Single MRI images are called slices. The images can be stored on a computer or burned on a CD.

Boca Regional offers the most advanced imaging available including 3T and open-bore MRIs.


Nuclear medicine uses radioactive substances to image the body and treat disease. It looks at both the physiology (functioning) and the anatomy of the body in establishing diagnosis and treatment. 

Nuclear medicine imaging techniques give doctors another way to look inside the human body. The techniques combine the use of computers, detectors, and radioactive substances. These techniques include:

  • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)
  • Cardiovascular imaging
  • Bone scanning

All of these techniques use different properties of radioactive elements to create an image.


PET produces images of the body by detecting the radiation emitted from radioactive substances. These substances are injected into the body, and are usually tagged with a radioactive atom, such as Fluorine-18, that has a short decay time. In a PET scan, the patient is injected with a radioactive substance and placed on a flat table that moves in increments through a doughnut shaped housing. This housing contains the circular gamma ray detector. The computer generates images. PET provides images of blood flow or other biochemical functions, depending upon the type of molecule that is radioactively tagged. For example, PET can show images of glucose metabolism in the brain, or rapid changes in activity in various areas of the body.


SPECT is a technique similar to PET. SPECT can provide information about blood flow and the distribution of radioactive substances in the body.

Cardiovascular imaging techniques use radioactive substances to chart the flow of blood through the heart and blood vessels. One example of a cardiovascular imaging technique is a stress thallium test, in which the patient is injected with a radioactive thallium compound, exercised on a treadmill, and imaged with a gamma ray camera. After a period of rest, the study is repeated without the exercise. The images before and after exercising are compared to reveal changes in blood flow to the working heart. These techniques are useful in detecting blocked arteries or arterioles in the heart and other tissues. Your cardiologist is required to be present during the exercise portion of the test.

Bone scanning detects radiation from a radioactive substance that, when injected into the body, collects in bone. The substance accumulates in areas of high metabolic activity, and so the image produced shows "bright spots" of high activity. Bone scanning is useful for detecting tumors, fractures, and infections, which generally have high metabolic activity.

In nuclear medicine imaging tests, injected radioactive substances do not harm the body. The radioisotopes used in nuclear medicine decay quickly, in minutes to hours, have lower radiation levels than a typical X-ray or CT scan, and are eliminated in the urine or bowel movement

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