When diagnoses in pain management are uncertain and information scant, radiologic imaging can be used to make the unseen seen. Differentials may be narrowed, decisions made more certain, and therapy commenced with greater effect. As powerful as it may be, imaging is no substitute for clinical examination and diagnoses; therapeutics should not be based solely on a radiologic result but in conjunction with the clinical findings. Much can be found if one looks, but if it does not hurt, is it of significance, and does it need to be treated?
All radiologic techniques rely on two qualities for their efficacy: contrast and dimension. Whether through the use of radiation or magnetism, by applying an exogenous stimulus and detecting the response, different tissues are transformed into shades of gray. The shades of gray and the contrast they provide give information as to the shape, quality, and boundaries of both normalcy and pathology. Images may exist in two-dimensions or constructed into three-dimensions using many images providing a multitude of views be they coronal, sagittal, axial, or more.
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