Introduction to Physics in Modern Medicine: 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Introduction to Physics in Modern Medicine

2nd Edition

By Suzanne Amador Kane

CRC Press

448 pages | 283 B/W Illus.

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From x-rays to lasers to magnetic resonance imaging, developments in basic physics research have been transformed into medical technologies for imaging, surgery and therapy at an ever accelerating pace. Physics has joined with genetics and molecular biology to define much of what is modern in modern medicine.

Covering a wide range of applications, Introduction to Physics in Modern Medicine, Second Edition builds on the bestselling original. Based on a course taught by the author, the book provides medical personnel and students with an exploration of the physics-related applications found in state-of-the-art medical centers.

Requiring no previous acquaintance with physics, biology, or chemistry and keeping mathematics to a minimum, the application-dedicated chapters adhere to simple and self-contained qualitative explanations that make use of examples and illustrations. With an enhanced emphasis on digital imaging and computers in medicine, the text gives readers a fundamental understanding of the practical application of each concept and the basic science behind it.

This book provides medical students with an excellent introduction to how physics is applied in medicine, while also providing students in physics with an introduction to medical physics. Each chapter includes worked examples and a complete list of problems and questions.

That so much of the technology discussed in this book was the stuff of dreams just a few years ago, makes this book as fascinating as it is practical, both for those in medicine as well as those in physics who might one day discover that the project they are working on is basis for the next great medical application.

This edition:

  • Covers hybrid scanners for cancer imaging and the interplay of molecular medicine with imaging technologies such as MRI, CT and PET
  • Looks at camera pills that can film from the inside upon swallowing and advances in robotic surgery devices
  • Explores Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy, proton therapy, and other new forms of cancer treatment
  • Reflects on the use of imaging technologies in developing countries


… textbooks introducing this topic to students from non-scientific backgrounds need to present the fundamental theory in a manner that is easily grasped yet sufficiently in depth to enable the reader to appreciate its application to real problems. Introduction to Physics in Modern Medicine manages to tread this fine line admirably. … To make this second edition up to date, the author describes a number of recent advances … the contents are thoroughly grounded in well-explained practical examples. … [a] well-researched book that renders complex subject matter thoroughly understandable and enjoyable.

Contemporary Physics, Vol. 52, Issue 2, 2011

Table of Contents

Introduction and Overview

Telescopes for Inner Space

Optics: the science of light

Fiber optics applications in medicine: endoscopes and laparoscopes

Robotic surgery and virtual reality in the operating room

Telemedicine and military applications

Lasers in Medicine

What is a laser?

More on the science of light: beyond the rainbow

How lasers work

How light interacts with body tissues

Laser beams and spatial coherence

Cooking with light: photocoagulation

Trade-offs in photocoagulation: power density and heat flow

Cutting with light: photovaporization

More power: pulsed lasers

Lasers and color

The atomic origins of absorption

How selective absorption is used in laser surgery

Lasers in dermatology

Laser surgery on the eye

New directions: lasers in dentistry

Advantages and drawbacks of lasers for medicine

New directions: photodynamic therapy—killing tumors with light

New directions: Diffusive optical imaging

Seeing with Sound

Sound waves

What is ultrasound?

Ultrasound and energy

How echoes are formed

How to produce ultrasound

Images from echoes

Ultrasound scanner design

Ultrasound is absorbed by the body

Limitations of ultrasound: image quality and artifacts

How safe is ultrasound imaging?

Obstetrical ultrasound imaging

Echocardiography: ultrasound images of the heart

Origins of the Doppler effect

Using the Doppler effect to measure blood flow

Color flow images

Three-dimensional ultrasound

Portable ultrasound—appropriate technology for the developing world

X-Ray Vision

Diagnostic x-rays: the body’s x-ray shadow

Types of x-ray interactions with matter

Basic issues in x-ray image formation

Contrast media make soft tissues visible on an x-ray

How x-rays are generated

X-ray detectors

Mammography: x-ray screening for breast cancer

Digital radiography

Computed tomography (CT)

Application: spotting brittle bones—bone mineral scans for osteoporosis

Images from Radioactivity

Nuclear physics basics

Radioactivity fades with time: the concept of half-lives

Gamma camera imaging

Emission tomography with radionuclides: SPECT and PET

Application: emission computer tomography studies of the brain

Hybrid scanners

Radiation Therapy and Radiation Safety in Medicine

Measuring radioactivity and radiation

Origins of the biological effects of ionizing radiation

The two regimes of radiation damage: radiation sickness and cancer risk

Radiation therapy: killing tumors with radiation

New directions in radiation therapy

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

The science of magnetism

Nuclear magnetism

Contrast mechanisms for MRI

Listening to spin echoes

How MRI maps the body

How safe is MRI?

Creating better contrast

Sports medicine and MRI

Magnetic resonance breast imaging

Mapping body chemistry with MR spectroscopy

Brain mapping and functional MRI

Each chapter contains an Introduction, Questions, and Problems.

About the Author

Suzanne Amador Kane is a professor of physics and astronomy at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. Her research interests lie at the interface of soft condensed matter physics and biophysics, including biologically-inspired nanostructures, model membrane systems, self-assembly, liquid crystals and artificial evolution.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / Biotechnology
MEDICAL / Radiology & Nuclear Medicine
SCIENCE / Physics