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Top: Early x-ray machine. Photo: Hutton Archive by Getty Images. Bottom: Modern bone scan showing metastatic prostate cancer.

Finally, doctors had a less-invasive, more comprehensive method of imaging stones, cysts and tumors with a relatively non-toxic medium.

In time, other sophisticated imaging techniques—ultrasonography, CT and MRI scanning—would dramatically reduce the need for excretory urography by providing views it couldn't impart. Doctors could now diagnose any urinary tract disorder with greater speed, depth and accuracy, using tests that were non-invasive, painless and safe.

Ultrasound, which uses the same Doppler sonar that quietly detects submarines, and which dolphins use for echolocation, emerged as a gentle diagnostic tool when it debuted in the 1950s. By measuring the acoustical delays of high-frequency sound waves pulsating through the body, sonography enjoys an indispensable role assessing, differentiating and evaluating many problems inside the abdomen, including the urinary tract.

CT scanning added a dramatic, high-resolution dimension to uroradiology when it appeared in 1972. By capturing exquisite image slices of tissue, it became

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