Radiology services today fall into two complete and distinct categories. One is called interventional radiology and the other is called diagnostic radiology. In interventional radiology, the radiologists is using imaging to guide a procedure. Oftentimes, the procedure would have had to been an open surgical procedure in the past, today, it can be image guided with a tool say to reduce the tumor in the lung that allows the radiologist to guide through the blood vessels right to that area of the lung where they want to reduce the tumor. That’s called interventional radiology.
Another example of it from the spine is where the radiologists will use imaging to guide a needle right next to the nerve and into a part of the joint of the spine called a facet in order to inject a medicine that will block the impulse to the nerve and reduce the pain, called a nerve block. All of this type of interventional radiology is about treatment and minimally invasive procedures.
Findings in diagnostic radiology are so important that they drive all spinal care procedures and reimbursements today.
Diagnostic radiology employs the use of images in order to help doctors locate a physical injury or a physical condition in the human body. Today, in diagnostic radiology, one of the most incredible uses that we see is for the spine itself.
When the spine is injured, there are three main derangement patterns or injury patterns that could show up with a damaged spine. You can have a fracture, which is picked up on the imaging of an X-ray or a CAT scan. You can have two ligament findings which are very pronounced, one is found on X-rays called stress radiology, and the other is found on MRI. On X-ray or stress radiology, we pick up the ligament damage that causes excessive motion in the joint. If the ligament damage enclose the disc, the human disc, then that’s picked up on MRI.
In the human spine, there’s over 220 specialized ligaments that hold over a hundred joints together of the 34 component parts of a human spine. These parts and these joints are held together by ligaments. So again with diagnostic radiology, there are three things that you can have, excessive motion, disc herniation or fracture. All of them are picked up with biomarkers, bio imaging markers that’s picked up on images. Now, you can have a combination today in radiology services. We know that in this area or in this science that you can have the combination of the three factors involved. So when a spine is injured, if there is a fracture that causes significant soft tissue damage, that can be a very serious injury.
So when we look at these three specific lesions that can occur with spinal damage, there can be combinations of the three, a fracture that also causes a lot of soft tissue damage and the soft tissues of course can be the ligaments. It could be the nerve itself. It could be the spinal cord itself. It can be the blood vessels. So everything that’s soft around the bone is considered a soft tissue and there are some critical pain generating soft tissues in and around those bones that can generate a lot of problems for the patients themselves. The patient may not have a fracture, but could still have serious ligament damage, in which case they either have a disc herniation or excessive motion, or worse yet a combination of both. It’s only through diagnostic radiology that the practitioner today can determine the severity and location of these injuries in the spine.
Findings in the diagnostic radiology are so important because they drive all spinal care procedures and reimbursements today. Examples of this are not limited to, but they can drive the care plans of chiropractors, of physical therapists, the care plans and the procedures of orthopedists, osteopaths and neurologists, and they can even drive the care plans for pre-authorization of spinal fusion surgeries, spinal injections, ablations, or other treatments of the spinal condition generated from the soft tissue injury. Because of the significance of these findings and their ability to drive care plans for doctors that treat them, these bio imaging markers or things that are found on imaging that accurately identify the conditions should be identified by an unbiased, independent board certified medical radiologists and it should never be done by the treating provider who may be biased and try to skew the results that are reported. For these reasons, that is why radiology services are so important today.