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.
AdvertisementThe top five ways medical physics has changed health care are:
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 tumor's growth.
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:
X rays: Discovered by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen in 1895, the application of these rays to medical imaging was recognized and embraced immediately.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Paul Lauterbur and Peter Mansfield developed MRI, which is routinely used today to image the human body.
Radioimmunoassays: Rosalyn Yalow developed radioimmunoassays, an extremely sensitive diagnostic technique that can quantify tiny amounts of biological substances in the body using radioactively-labeled materials.
Computer-assisted Tomography: Allan M Cormack and Godfrey Newbold Hounsfield developed CT, which has revolutionized imaging because CT provides images with unprecedented clarity.