3 Medical Imaging Techniques You Need To Know About

Updated on February 28, 2022

Radiology and MRI technologist careers are will grow by 9% by the year 2028. This growth is faster than the average for most careers. A career in medical imaging provides the chance to help save lives and share some important information with patients.

Careers in digital imaging often require years of studying and education. And required a lot of soft skills. But what skills do you need to master before your on your way to a successful medical imaging career?

If you want to understand what imaging techniques you’ll need for your future profession check out our complete guide below.

What is Medical Imaging?

Medical imaging is the act of developing pictures of the inside of human bodies for analysis, diagnosis, and treatment of medical conditions. Depending on the technology you use you will get different types of images used for a variety of purposes.

Most imaging processes are fairly simple and non-invasive procedures that have few risks. 

To perform these tests a variety of imaging techniques are used including:

  • Ultrasound or imaging using sound waves
  • X-rays and CT scans which use radiation create images 
  • MRI which magnetic fields to produce images 
  • Contrast agents must be eaten or injected to outline the organs.

Contrast agents are unique because they are used in combination with other methods to make getting a clear image easier. 

Imaging Techniques You Need to Know About

Let’s get in-depth information imaging techniques used in imaging tests. These tests contain the most common methods of imaging. There are also less common methods of imaging that won’t be discussed in detail like bone scans which inject a small amount of radioactive material into the bone to see if there’s any new bone growth activity.

We are mostly focusing on diagnostic imaging techniques. This is using imaging to diagnose illnesses like cancer or diseases. Though it should be noted that there are other uses of digital imaging.


When asking what are some medical imaging tests? The first answers to come up are x-rays and CT scans. These are the most common medical imaging tests. They sometimes precede more complex tests.

X-rays are also called radiographs. The process involves placing the part of your body that’s being x-rayed between the machine and a sheet of photographic film. The machine then transmits radiation through the body and onto film.

In an x-ray thin material like fractures or breaks in bones will let radiation pass through them making them look dark. Thick dense materials like tumors or bones absorb radiation and as a result, look white in the x-ray. Often a patient will be x-rayed from multiple angles and in some case dye be injected in the area to help it stand out.  

Unlike the other medical imaging techniques, which are usually harmless there is a slight risk with x-rays because of the use of radiation. Radiation can cause cancer or tissue damage. Unfortunately, exposure to radiation builds up over time regardless of the interval between doses. 

One thing to keep in mind that the x-rays typically have a fairly low dose of radiation. In fact, the amount of radiation you get from one chest x-ray is around significantly less than the average yearly dose of background radiation.

This means that before a doctor can recommend certain tests they must ask questions about the patient’s lifetime exposure to radiation.

Another precautionary step is to limit x-ray testing on people during infancy, pregnancy, and early childhood. 

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

You’ve probably already heard of MRIs or magnetic resonance imaging. MRIs allow you to get images of the internal structures of the human body. These machines work by using magnets.

The procedure usually takes around 15 to 90 minutes to complete. 

Because of the use of powerful patients are required to remove metallic items from their bodies. This includes things like hair accessories containing metal, watches, piercings, and hearing aids.   

Before a patient undergoes an MRI they are required to fast for up to four hours beforehand. Though sometimes they are asked to drink a lot of water in advance.

Though MRIs are usually done routinely there are some people who are poor candidates to have the procedure. These include pregnant or breastfeeding women and people with metal implanted in their bodies. 


One of the most important imaging tests to know is the ultrasound. Ultrasounds work by using low-frequency sound waves to create an echo effect against the body. This creates images and the process is called sonography.

To perform this procedure the probe is placed on the outside or and a small amount of gel is placed on the probe to allow it to move across the skin. The probe then emits ultrasound waves to create the images. Because the images captured by ultrasound arrive in real time they can capture things like the movement of blood muscles and bones. 

Ultrasounds have a fairly impressive health record it doesn’t use ionizing radiation so it doesn’t have the risk of x-rays or ct scans.

Imaging as Career

Now that you understand the different types of imaging techniques let’s go over the ways you can launch a professional career in this industry. 

The first thing you need to do is fulfill the education requirement which can include a certificate or associate bachelor’s or master’s degree if you want professional advancement. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists must accredit these programs. 

As an x-ray technician, you must stay up to date on the latest law changes. For example, in California, technicians need to find out how to renew their licenses so they can continue to use fluoroscopy machines.

Want to Learn More About the Healthcare Industry?

Medical imaging techniques include things like ultrasounds, x-rays, and MRI. These techniques are used to diagnose disease and discover any fractures and tumors. 

Now that you understand different imaging techniques want to explore the world of health care careers further? Then feel free to contact us.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.