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September 2008 Mayo Clinic Health Letter Highlights Cataract Removal, Severe Headache and Dual Energy X-Ray Imaging
Date:9/2/2008

h the medications are a concern. Some medications can increase the risk of serious infections and some cancers. A doctor who has training in this area, often a rheumatologist, can carefully monitor the prescribed medications, their benefits and side effects to best manage the illness.

Dual Energy X-Ray Imaging -- A Better View

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- An emerging imaging technology shows that using two different levels of X-ray energy is better than one, according to the September issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

The new technology, called dual energy X-ray imaging, goes beyond the single perspective image of an X-ray exam or the multiple perspectives of a computerized tomography (CT) scan. Dual energy X-ray imaging can identify the compositions of substances and tissues in the body. Images can be differentiated that would be difficult or impossible to discern in an X-ray or CT scan.

The enhanced image is created using two levels of X-ray energy. After the high-energy reading is cross-referenced with the low-energy reading, an image emerges that is much more precise than standard imaging, which uses a single level of energy.

A handful of medical centers are developing ways to use this technology. For example:

-- Identifying kidney stone compositions -- Unlike a standard CT scan, a dual energy X-ray image can determine if a kidney stone is made of uric acid or if it contains calcium. Uric acid stones can be treated with medication, avoiding surgery.

-- Detecting gout -- A dual energy X-ray image shows the presence and location of gout. Standard X-rays, even combined with a needle biopsy, don't always provide the evidence needed for a clear diagnosis.

Other applications under development are mapping blood vessel flow within organs and visualizing clogged arteries. Although current applications are limited, researchers will likely find more ways to apply dual energy X-ray imaging.

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