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heart muscle never suffers from fatigue?

Looking Inside the Human Body

In 1895, the development of X-ray equipment provided physicians a way to look at images of dense tissue in the body, such as bones. Modern imaging techniques rely on computers.

Computerized Tomography

Computerized tomography (CT) uses a focused beam of low-dose X-rays to obtain cross-sectional images of structures in the body. Tomography is the technique used to take images of a specific "slice" or plane of tissue. Computerized tomography can differentiate tissues of various densities.

(a) A three dimensional PET scan shows the surface detail and cellular activity of the brain. (b) This X-ray shows the bones of the skull, mandible, and neck.

(a) A three dimensional PET scan shows the surface detail and cellular activity of the brain. (b) This X-ray shows the bones of the skull, mandible, and neck.

Positrons and Brain Imaging

Still newer imaging technology is positron emission technology, or PET. Positrons are positively charged particles with the same mass as electrons that result from the disintegration of radioisotopes. Michael M. TerPogossian and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins suggested using short-lived radioisotopes in medical research. They developed scanners to detect the positrons released by radioisotopes that had been injected into a patient's bloodstream. As technology improved, biomedical engineers redesigned scanning equipment to create three-dimensional images from the positron emissions. Positron emission technology is used to map areas of the brain that are involved in memory, sensation, perception, speech, and information processing. In addition, positron emission technology provides clues about the causes of psychiatric disorders, such as depression.

Holographic Imaging

A new holographic imaging system combines images obtained by computerized tomography or magnetic resonance scanners and displays an accurate three-dimensional image of anatomical structures. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) creates images of soft tissues. MRI uses radio waves emitted by the nuclei of hydrogen atoms that are activated by a magnetic scanner. A holograph is a method of photography that uses laser light to produce a three-dimensional image. The transparent but solid looking image floats in front of the holographic film and can be studied from all sides.

Holograms in Medicine

Physicians can make surgical plans by studying the true appearance of a patient's organs, such as the three dimensional PET scan that highlights the verbal center in the brain (a). Compare the three dimensional PET scan with the X-ray of the same part of the body (b). The X-ray may not be as helpful as the three dimensional PET scan when a physician must diagnose an illness or injury of the brain.

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