Radiology is the study of images of the human body. A radiologist is a physician (M.D. or D.O.) who has become a specialist in radiology. Radiologists study and train to interpret medical images and perform imaging procedures.
How Radiologists Work
Radiology began with the use of X-rays but now entails images obtained using other methods - radioactive substances (nuclear medicine), ultrasound, MRI, and CT, for example.
Radiologists also treat diseases by means of radiation, such as radiation oncology, nuclear medicine or minimally invasive, image-guided surgery called interventional radiology.
A radiologist correlates medical image findings with other examinations and tests, recommends further examinations or treatments, and confers with referring physicians - the doctors who send patients to the radiology department or clinic for testing.
Subspecialties in Radiology Include:
| Breast Imaging
Genitourinary (diagnosis and treatment of the
Organs of the reproductive and urinary tract)
| Head and Neck|
Training in radiology usually takes five to six additional years after completing medical or osteopathic school. Radiologists have a great understanding of anatomy, pathology, and physiology to make accurate diagnoses.
Radiologists are board certified, which means they have passed an examination and been approved to practice in the field by either the American Board of Radiology (for a medical doctor or M.D.) or the American Osteopathic Board of Radiology (for an osteopathic doctor or D.O.)
Radiologic technologists assist radiologists by performing diagnostic imaging examinations, such as X-rays, CT, MRI and mammography.
Radiologic technologists - radiographers - produce images to help diagnosing medical problems. They prepare patients for radiologic examinations by explaining the procedure, removing jewelry and other articles through which X-rays cannot pass, and positioning patients so that the parts of the body can be appropriately radiographed. Radiographers also position equipment at the correct angle and height over the appropriate area of a patient's body.
The technologists must follow physicians' orders precisely and conform to regulations concerning the use of radiation to protect themselves, their patients, and their coworkers from unnecessary exposure.
Some radiologic technologists may specialize in certain tests, such as CT, MRI or mammography.
In addition to radiologic technologists, others who conduct diagnostic imaging procedures include cardiovascular technologists, diagnostic medical sonographers and nuclear medicine technologists.
Uniformed Services University
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics