Intended for healthcare professionals

Clinical Review Recent advances

Diagnostic radiology

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 17 July 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:168
  1. Jane Hawnaur, senior lecturer in radiology (
  1. Department of Diagnostic Radiology, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT

    Radiology has participated in the recent trend towards computerised management in the health service and has responded to the demand for cost efficient and rapid communication between departments of radiology and their users. Digital image acquisition has become the standard for modern equipment used in angiography, ultrasonography, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and radionuclide radiology, but most radiological images are still recorded, interpreted, and stored on x ray film. With the increasing availability of more efficient and affordable storage phosphor systems, the simple radiograph looks set to become digital and the “filmless” radiology department will be a reality. In this review I discuss this topic and other aspects of radiology in which technological advances have had an impact on clinical practice.

    Summary points

    All types of diagnostic images can now be acquired as digital signals

    Digital imaging and developments in computer technology and telecommunications mean that the “filmless” radiology department is technically feasible

    Faster image acquisition in computed tomography has extended its diagnostic applications, but has implications for the population radiation dose from medical imaging

    Magnetic resonance imaging continues to develop rapidly, propelled by the benefits of shorter scan times and the potential to provide functional information

    New or updated radiology equipment and techniques are expensive and may not be cost effective in every radiology department


    Although tremendous progress has been made in interventional radiology in recent years, I have confined this review to advances in diagnostic imaging that have resulted from recent technical innovations. Some applications have evolved only recently from research techniques and may not yet have undergone stringent clinical evaluation. This review comprises a personal selection of recent reports from mainstream radiology journals and the results of Medline searches which examine the highlighted topics in more depth.

    Digital radiology departments and teleradiology

    x Ray film is exposed by light photons emitted by intensifying screens …

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