Diagnostic imaging

Imaging modalities

Imaging for medical purposes involves a team which includes the service of radiologists, radiographers (X-ray technologists), sonographers (ultrasound technologists), medical physicists, nurses, biomedical engineers, and other support staff working together to optimize the wellbeing of patients, one at a time. Appropriate use of medical imaging requires a multidisciplinary approach.

WHO Goals

Medical imaging, ultimately, should be provided as part of Universal Health Coverage. As stated by the WHO constitution, “The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being…” Medical imaging is a key element within many evidence-based clinical decision support algorithms, consistent with overarching evidence-based recommendations for management of the disease. Clinical imaging referral guidelines have been produced by several countries and can assist in promotion of appropriate use of imaging.

Medical Imaging

Medical imaging encompasses different imaging modalities and processes to image the human body for diagnostic and treatment purposes and therefore plays an important role in initiatives to improve public health for all population groups. Furthermore, medical imaging is frequently justified in the follow-up of a disease already diagnosed and/or treated.

Medical imaging, especially X-ray based examinations and ultrasonography, is crucial in a variety of medical setting and at all major levels of health care. In public health and preventive medicine as well as in both curative and palliative care, effective decisions depend on correct diagnoses. Though medical/clinical judgment may be sufficient prior to treatment of many conditions, the use of diagnostic imaging services is paramount in confirming, correctly assessing and documenting courses of many diseases as well as in assessing responses to treatment.

With improved health care policy and increasing availability of medical equipment, the number of global imaging-based procedures is increasing considerably. Effective, safe, and high quality imaging is important for much medical decision-making and can reduce unnecessary procedures. For example, some surgical interventions can be avoided altogether if simple diagnostic imaging services such as ultrasound are available.

Contact information

World Health Organization
Medical Devices
20 Avenue Appia
1211, Geneva 27
Email: medicaldevices@who.int