Imaging the unimaginable: Medical imaging in the realm of photography.

Abstract:

:There is an almost innate urge in human beings to represent reality in a visual form. From rock art in the Paleolithic to images of galaxies, the quotidian and the extraordinary have been visually represented through the ages. Medical and scientific disciplines are no exception. Accurate representation of the human body structures and anatomy based on cadaver dissections was almost not possible up to the Renaissance due to ethical, social, and religious beliefs and objections. The works of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) and others and, later, Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), who produced De Humanis Corporis Fabrica, are considered landmarks in the history of medicine. During the following centuries medical and scientific illustration relied upon the expertise of physician-artists and scientist-artists until a new paradigm appeared in the realm of scientific (medical) illustration: the invention of photography in the 19th century. Two of the medical disciplines most rapidly influenced by photography were dermatology and pathology, both macro- and microscopic. Physicians rapidly started to use photographs as a tool for consultation, documentation, and education, and large collections of images were amassed by individuals and institutions for these purposes. Photographic images are produced by visible light impressing a light-sensitive material such as a silver halide plate, and nowadays a silicon chip. But photons are reflected by nontransparent objects, including the human skin. Developments in science and technology allowed the use of other types of radiation to reveal internal structures in the human body and, most interestingly, noninvasively. Thus today much of the medical diagnosis and treatment is guided by the so-called medical imaging with the use of these techniques, that is, medical photography, endoscopy, x-ray radiography, computer-aided tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasonography, thermography, and nuclear medicine functional imaging techniques as positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). Some of these techniques are being applied at the microscopic level to study cell structure and even functional changes in real time. All these advancements in science and technology applied to medicine and other disciplines pose the question as to what extent physicians are trading their capabilities as clinicians. Ethics issues add to the complexity of this new era governed by constant changes in scientific paradigms.

journal_name

Clin Dermatol

journal_title

Clinics in dermatology

authors

Michelangeli F

doi

10.1016/j.clindermatol.2018.09.008

subject

Has Abstract

pub_date

2019-01-01 00:00:00

pages

38-46

issue

1

eissn

0738-081X

issn

1879-1131

pii

S0738-081X(18)30200-1

journal_volume

37

pub_type

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