The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM),
the premier scientific and professional association of medical physicists, has
highlighted top five ways that have revolutionized medical techniques for
imaging the human body and treating disease.
As AAPM celebrates its 50th anniversary, it has called
attention to the field of medical physics achievements.
The top five ways medical physics has changed health care
1) Using Particle Accelerators to Defeat Cancer: Linear accelerators are sophisticated high
energy machines that can now deliver beams of energetic electrons or X rays to
malignant tumors - at doses capable of killing cancerous cells and stopping the
In recent years, an advanced treatment technique called
intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) has enhanced the ability of
radiation to control tumors.
2) Better Detection of Breast Cancer: Breast imaging
techniques have undergone substantial advances since the introduction of the
original film techniques. The early emulsion films were replaced with more
sensitive film stocks and finally with digital imaging.
With the introduction of theses new techniques, doses to the
patient were reduced and the sensitivity of the techniques for finding early
and treatable disease increased.
Computer-aided diagnosis and the use of MRI and CT for
breast imaging promises to further advance cancer detection and treatment in
the 21st century.
3) Matter/Antimatter Collision Imaging: Another technique
that is being used to detect diseases in people of all ages is positron
emission tomography (PET).
4) Ensuring the Safety of People Who get Ct Scans: The AAPM
issued a CT radiation dose management report in 2008, recommending standardized
ways of reporting doses and educating users on the latest dose reduction
technology, to ensure the health and safety of the millions of people who
undergo CT scanning each year.
5) Medical Physics Moments in History: Some of the major
medical advancements in the history of medicine took place in the past century
and came from the minds and laboratories of physicists including:
Discovered by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen in 1895, the
application of these rays to medical imaging was recognized and embraced
Magnetic Resonance Imaging:
Paul Lauterbur and Peter Mansfield developed MRI, which is
routinely used today to image the human body.
Rosalyn Yalow developed radioimmunoassays, an extremely
sensitive diagnostic technique that can quantify tiny amounts of biological
substances in the body using radioactively-labeled materials.
Allan M Cormack and Godfrey Newbold Hounsfield
developed CT, which has revolutionized imaging because CT provides images with