For most of the history of medicine, physicians relied on their senses – primarily vision and touch – to diagnose illness, monitor a patient’s condition, and perform invasive procedures. During the last few decades various three-dimensional medical imaging techniques, such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasound, have become available that allow a physician to see and diagnose disease that is hidden from normal view.
Three-dimensional biomedical images are now being used not only for diagnosis, but for planning and conducting treatment strategies and surgeries, a concept referred to as image-guided interventions.
Advances in computer technology, coupled with an increase in the accuracy and sensitivity of imaging technologies, will make it possible to seamlessly integrate diagnosis and treatment. Future image-guided interventions will enable medical practitioners to detect critical illnesses at their most curable stage – oftentimes at the cellular level, before any symptoms or signs are noticeable. Finally, reengineering of advanced imaging technologies and the development of new imaging sensors will lower the cost of these technologies, making them accessible to more patients.
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