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The Evolution of Medical Imaging Technologies: Electric Meat and the Physician’s Shifting Gaze

Keywords: medical imaging , visual rhetoric , medicine , physician patient relationship , digital , technology , photography , x-ray , MRI , CT scan , PET scan , science , medicine , radiology , radiological images

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Abstract:

The artifacts produced by medical imaging technologies raise questions about our physicality and what it means to be human. Looming death, the promise of healing, and perhaps ultimate transcendence compel us to allow the shift in medicine from human-driven to device-driven. It’s conceivable that the radiographic image, or at least the perception brought about by the imagery of our inner selves, helped take us to that place. While both the patient and doctor currently remain necessary to the medical experience at some level, the imaging technologies make their location, time, and place less relevant, and lessen the significance of physical human interaction. At some point, the machine must analyze the patient and the doctor must analyze the machine’s analysis, i.e., the images, but we face the possibility that never the two shall meet. Regardless, the medical images offer rich, complicated visual rhetoric from which to understand ourselves.

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