Today, visualization techniques such as computer-assisted tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) are standard tools in medical practice and form a central part of research, diagnostics, and therapy. Visual imaging of the inside of the body has since been an integral part of medicine and its development. For a long time, drawings and anatomy atlases were an essential aid for medical practitioners. Since the discovery of X-rays at the end of the nineteenth century, the importance of medical visualization has increased steadily. Today, computerized imaging techniques allow a view inside the body from any perspective. Images produced by complex scanners play a significant role in attaining biomedical knowledge about the body. The images are used to identify potential pathologies, select therapeutic measures, carry out follow-up checks, and exclude suspected diseases. Images contribute significantly to medical decision-making and, thus, have become central to biomedical knowledge of the human body and activity pertaining to it. They are also the most important instrument in rapidly developing research areas, especially in the neurosciences.
We need to examine the interaction of technology, knowledge, skills, ways of perceiving, norms, and contexts in the production of these images, as well as how we interpret the roles these areas play in medical practice and research, the doctor-patient relationship, their effect on self-awareness, and the circulation of the images in other areas of science and society such as the economy or the media. The digital possibilities of imaging and image archiving also raise legal and ethical questions, for example about data protection or the problem of incidental findings.
Therefore, the production, interpretation, and use of images need to be taken into account when studying the social, cultural, legal, and ethical implications of medical images.
Regula Valérie Burri, 09.05.2014 / firstname.lastname@example.org