Compared to old-fashioned monochrome x-rays, the latest Computed Tomography (CT) scanners combine innovations in digital imaging with high performance 3D and 4D volumetric computing to give diagnosticians a stunningly detailed look at our innards. Siemens Somatom Sensation 64 with z-Sharp technology, for example, delivers higher resolution 64-slice images at faster speeds by splitting the scan beam, speeding up the scan rate and exploiting high speed dual processor computer hardware to handle the stream. The resulting image (at left, click to enlarge), assembled from slices of digitized data, offers a colorized 3D view of the patient's internal layout. Cardiac applications add the fourth dimension of time to show heart beats on the doctor's workstation.
Siemens posts videos of doctors from various specialties demonstrating their use of volumetric data in practice. Today, CT systems are very expensive, complicated and touchy, but chip-driven, software-intensive digital imaging always gets cheaper and better over time.