Know your imaging options

Summary

  • There are several types of medical imaging tests, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Your health professional will decide which imaging test is most appropriate for you.
  • Be informed about your medical imaging test and talk to your health professional about any questions or concerns you may have.
CT scan of the brain

Different imaging methods provide different types of images.
Image: Nata-Lia/Sshutterstock.com

There are several methods of medical imaging – each uses different technology to create a different type of image. The types of images differ in how well they show what is happening in certain body tissues (eg, bone, soft tissue or tumours) – this is one of the main considerations for your health professional when deciding which imaging technique to use. 

No single type of imaging is always better; each has different potential advantages and disadvantages, including exposure to radiation with some types of imaging.

Your health professional will decide which type of imaging is most appropriate for you.

Common types of imaging include:

Understand your options

The first and most important step towards an accurate diagnosis of your condition or injury is for your health professional to take your medical history and perform a physical examination. Imaging tests can help but not replace this.

Imaging should only be performed if it is likely to help with diagnosis and improve the management of your health condition or injury. Your health professional should consider your symptoms, and the costs, risks and benefits of different types of imaging.

It's important to be well informed before agreeing to any imaging or other medical investigation, and to talk to your health professional about questions or concerns you may have about your imaging.