Radiology & Radiological Science

Radiologists are medical doctors that specialize in diagnosing and treating injuries and diseases using medical imaging (radiology) procedures (exams/tests) such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography (PET) and ultrasound. Radiologists complete at least 13 years of training, including medical school, a four-year residency, and most often, an additional one- or two-year fellowship of very specialized training, such as radiation oncology, pediatric radiology, or interventional radiology. They are certified by the American Board of Radiology, and they have exacting requirements for continuing medical education throughout their practicing years.

Archive August 20, 2020

What is an MRI and why use it?

MRI actually stands for Magnetic resonance images that use radio waves, magnets, and a computer to operate.  An MRI is a top-level of viewing the inside of your body, aside from actually being on the operating table.  It is very detailed and is used to diagnose as well as to see how well a patient is responding to a diagnosis.  MRIs are a little different than you see with X-ray and CT scans as it doesn’t use any radiation.  Some things that doctors use MRIs for are:

  • Stroke
  • Blood vessel damage
  • Cancer
  • Brain injury
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Eye Problems
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Inner Ear Problems

There are different reasons for doctors to use an MRI.  It can be used to test the health of many organs including:

  • Prostate
  • Kidneys
  • Liver
  • Breasts
  • Pancreas

There are certain risks with getting an MRI but your doctor will go over these.  You should not be pregnant or at least not in your first trimester, if possible to avoid.  If you have any metal inside your body such as a pacemaker or some sort of implant you shouldn’t be around this huge magnetic machine for obvious reasons.  So, be sure that you take off all body jewelry and external metal as well.

What to expect in an MRI

Before you enter the MRI room your technician will go over your procedure.  The machine is made of a large tube with holes at each end that they slide you in and out of.  Some people have issues with being in such an enclosed space.  Should you think that this might be a problem for you, let your doctor know and they will come up with a solution you both can agree on.

Many times you will get contrast dye before you have your MRI. This dye will help the doctors see your images better.  Typically it is not harmful and you don’t even know that you have had it.  However, some people say that they get a metal-like taste in their mouths.

Once you have had an MRI, you can typically go home from there.  However, if you are staying as an inpatient, they will take you back to your room.  It really doesn’t have much effect on the patient and is a pretty easy and simple test really.  However, some people really don’t like being in the tube.  While this is something simple to overcome for many, it is a no go for some.

Radiology works together to improve lives.

MRIs are a part of the radiology arsenal that helps doctors further understand what is going on in your body. Sometimes they will combine the various radiology techniques to further investigate what is happening.  These various radiology techniques are forever improving and expanding on what we can do in our healthcare systems.  This technology has come a long way in recent years. And, it is the technology of the future.  Now, all x-rays and testing are saved on a computer and can be shared between various doctors with ease.  When the information is digital it can be shared quickly and all around the world.  Unlike times where everything was on film or had to be sent over on disks.  We are now in a modern-day where it can be sent via the internet in seconds.  Getting patients faster results that are more accurate.

What is a CT scan and why use it?

CT or CAT Scan is actually a computed tomography scan that allows doctors to look inside you at your bones and organs without actually having you on the operating table.  All CT scans are pretty much painless. They are used to diagnose a number of things and are typically found in the radiology department.  The machine will use a combination of computer images to show the various bones, organs, and other tissues.

The machine will xray around the body and show the image as a cross slice of the body.  These slices can then be put back together to give you a full-scale model of what the person looks like on the inside.  The machine is about the size of a large room.

While the slices are gathered the computer keeps track of the order in which they are gathered so they can make a 3d image of the inside of your body.  Surgeons many times want a CT Scan to prepare for surgery.  This allows them to see a tumor for example and how it is thriving and attached to the body.  This allows them to fully prepare for the surgery and not have surprises on the operating table.  Because of this, modern-day medicine is far better than we have had in the past.  In fact, since all images are digital it is simple to get a second opinion. And, the doctors can zoom in on the images to see things up close that might be something that is very small.  This allows them to further help their patients have a successful surgery.

Some reasons we use CT Scan

There is actually a long list of reasons that doctors use CT.  Some of these reasons are:

  • Assist in tumor location, size, and infections.
  • Looking for internal bleeding issues and developing a plan before surgery.
  • Work with patients that have heart disease, cancer, liver masses, or emphysema.
  • Helps with radiation therapy, biopsies and allows doctors to come up with a proper treatment plan.
  • Helps with joint and bone problems that are more complex than a simple x-ray can assist with.

While CTs are very useful.  The machines are quite large and expensive.  Because of this, you won’t find CTs being offered in small clinics such as vets, chiropractors, dental offices, and other small medical centers.  Typically a CT scan will be done at a hospital or radiology center.  Once complete they will send the images to a radiologist to be read.  This is a doctor that you may never meet.  However, they will know all about you according to your chart.  Medial charts are all digital these days.  So, it is easy for doctors to communicate about a patient, without ever actually meeting them.

There are many different ways to do a CT Scan and rules.  Such as you might have to have some contrast injected into your veins or you might be asked not to drink or eat anything.  Oftentimes a CT scan is done while you are in a hospital gown by a radiology technician.


What is a radiologist?

There are many types of specialized doctors in the world.  And, in those areas, we even can find more specialized yet.  For example, you might find a general surgeon that specialized in Cario or head injuries.  Our bodies are complex and so the people that care for the have to be as well. A radiologist is someone that has completed medical school but went on for further training.  They have their medical license and yet was interested in further their education to help others.  However, like surgeons, some go on to further specialize in

  • Breast images
  • Chest radiology
  • Cardiovascular radiology
  • Gastrointestinal radiology
  • Emergency radiology
  • Head and Neck radiology
  • genitourinary radiology
  • Neuroradiology
  • Musculoskeletal radiology
  • Interventional radiology
  • Pediatric radiology
  • Radiation Oncology
  • Nuclear Radiology

This is because each part of the body is very complex.  It is easier for someone that is specialized to spot a problem within that specific area.  Sure, some x-rays can be easily determined such as a broken femur or arm.  However, some radiology images are very complex and show the various parts of the brain and how they are functioning.  There are images that are taken and studied to determine the level of dementia and so on.  This is where specialized becomes important.

Oncology Radiologist

When we are using radiology to treat patients with Cancer, you probably will want a radiologist that specializes in this sort of thing.  The level of radiation, how many treatments a patient needs, and what type of cancer it is are important factors to consider.  All of this information is something that an oncologist radiologist will consider.

While they may be specialized according to the area of the body, they do all use the various radiology techniques that are designed to show them the key points of which they are trying to look at.  For example, they will utilize both ultrasound and CT scans on the same patient.  Perhaps they will start with the less aggressive testing to see what they find and if further testing is needed they will then recommend that to their primary care physician.

Radiologists work together with other doctors.

Radiologists work hand in hand with the other doctors involved in a medical case.  They are not surgeons and do not perform surgeries but help the other doctors find the problem and diagnose the patient.  They are very specialized in view the body through a set of images that are presented to them.  Many times they might not even meet the patient and could even be in another country at this point.  It is very common for medical centers to hire outside services to have the best radiologists available for their patients.  This allows them to read various images and give their personal recommendations in their area of expertise.  This has further improved how patients receive expert care that they need.

Because everything is digital, you can get a proper diagnosis quicker.  They have the right people on your team.  This is true for people that live in rural areas.  This has opened up how we do health care.  It has done nothing but increases our health care communities.


What is radiology?

Radiology is a branch of medicine that is responsible for taking images on the body to show the insides. This could be the bones or soft tissues, depending on what radiology department you are speaking about.  It is used to diagnose various diseases.  It helps doctors see broken bones as well as show new mothers their baby for the first time.  Radiology is used in a variety of ways in medicine.  There are different types of radiology, but basically they are broken down into two different sectors.  These sectors are diagnostic radiology and interventional radiology.

There are many different types of radiology techniques utilized in our radiology departments today.  You have probably heard some of the terms of the industry over time.  Things such as:

  • Radiographic images or X-rays
  • CAT Scan or CT Scan
  • Ultrasonography (Ultrasound)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Nuclear Medicine images

Let’s take a look at these various radiology departments.

If you are having a child, you will get to know the ultrasound rather well.  This is where they check on the baby and mom from the inside.  You will see the baby’s heartbeat and the position of the baby.  It is used to look at the health of your lungs and heart.  There are many reasons for people to have any of the radiology services.  However, we will try to cover some of what each one is used to.

CT Scan gives slices of certain areas of the body.  This helps doctors to see how large a tumor is.  Or the chambers of the heart.  It slices through the body to give images that doctors can read via a computer.  MRI is very similar.  It is used to look at structures and organs inside the body without opening up the body.

MRI is used mostly for head injuries and head trauma.  It is used to diagnose stroke, multiple sclerosis, headaches, and dementia.

Let’s take a look further into X-rays

X-rays are mostly used for the bone structures and are the most common.  This is a simple process that many small businesses even have their own department on hand.  As x-ray has moved to digital it is very economical and safe.  This helps chiropractors, doctors, dentists, vets, and so many other small medical offices to diagnose right there on the spot.  As the x-rays went digital, there is less space needed for having this sort of department.  There isn’t any film or need for film development any longer.

All these images are much more developed than they have been in the past.  They can be enlarged, marked, and more due to the use of computers.  Computers have made radiology even better than it was ever before.  This area has improved how the doctors operate as well.

Radiologists are those specialized doctors that read the films, or in this case digital films.  They used to have to be on-site in order to read the actual films.  However, because everything has gone digital, there are services popping up all over that allow businesses to get a service, rather than employ their own radiologist.  Everything is much faster in the digital world.  There is no need to develop film, so it takes less time to do an x-ray.  There is a little waiting.