A radiologist is a type of doctor who uses medical imaging to support the diagnosis and treatment of various conditions and injuries. Specialties include diagnostic radiologists, interventional radiologists, radiation oncology, and more.
In this article, we discuss what a radiologist does, their training, and the different types of radiology.
A radiologist is a type of doctor who specializes in medical imaging. Radiologists analyze images, such as X-rays, to help diagnose, monitor, and treat various conditions or injuries.
Radiologists are different than radiographers. Although both of these professionals work with medical imaging, radiographers are the people who operate the machinery.
There are different types of radiologists, including diagnostic radiologists and medical physicists.
There are several different specialties of radiology, including:
Diagnostic radiologists use medical imaging to diagnose and treat diseases. They can use a variety of different imaging methods, such as:
- electromagnetic radiation
Interventional radiologists use medical imaging to provide therapy to people with noncancerous conditions.
For example, an interventional radiologist might use medical imaging to support a surgical procedure.
This imaging can make surgical procedures safer and lead to faster recovery times. Interventional radiologists typically work on keyhole surgery.
Keyhole surgery involves making small cuts instead of larger ones and using tiny cameras to see inside the body.
A radiation oncologist uses radiation-based therapy to treat cancer. This therapy involves the use of high energy radiation to damage cancer cells, which stops them from spreading further.
It can help reduce symptoms or, in some cases, cure the condition entirely.
Medical physicists use their understanding of physics to support the practice of medicine in different ways.
For example, they can advise on and deliver the technical aspects of medical imaging to ensure the safety of patients and the effectiveness of the results.
Some medical physicists are also researchers and play a role in developing new medical technology. Medical physicists have developed many devices that doctors commonly use today, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Radiologists can work in clinical practices, hospitals, or universities. The job of radiologists varies depending on their specialty.
All radiologists work with medical imaging methods, which include:
- computed tomography (CT) scans
- MRI scans
- positron emission tomography (PET) scans
- nuclear medicine
- fusion imaging
Most of these techniques involve the use of radiation. Radiologists are highly trained in keeping people safe from the harmful effects of radiation.
These professionals can help other doctors decide on the right imaging method to use and understand what the results mean for treatment. They can also help interpret different images and other test results to make a diagnosis or monitor whether current treatments are working.
Certain types of radiologists, including interventional radiologists, are more actively involved in the treatment process. Others, such as diagnostic radiologists, might provide support to other healthcare professionals.
Some radiologists rarely work with patients and instead work in labs doing research. For example, some clinical studies might include a radiologist to help with the analysis of medical images.
Radiologists are medical doctors, so they follow a similar path to those working in other specialties.
All radiologists need a medical degree, which involves 4 years of training and education from a medical school.
Most medical schools require students to have an undergraduate degree and pass a Medical College Admission Test before entering.
After finishing medical school, radiologists do a year of clinical training. They may spend a preliminary year focusing on one area of medicine, such as internal medicine, or it may be a transitional year that involves several rotations through different specialties.
Following the clinical year, radiologists usually complete 4 years of paid residency. Residency is a combination of further medical education and on-the-job training in different areas of radiology.
After a residency, most radiologists do a fellowship. A fellowship is an additional 1 or 2 years of training in a specialized area of radiology, such as nuclear radiology. Interventional radiologists must undertake a 2 year fellowship.
Radiologists are medical doctors. They share some of the same duties as a family doctor, such as performing diagnoses or monitoring treatment, but most radiologists do not work directly with patients.
Radiologists are different than radiographers. Radiographers operate medical imaging equipment, but they do not interpret the results.
Radiologists are medical doctors who work with medical imaging techniques, such as MRIs or X-rays.
There are several different specialties of radiology, each of which plays a different role in medicine.
For example, a diagnostic radiologist helps support diagnosis and treatment, while an interventional radiologist uses imaging to guide surgical procedures.
Most radiologists work with other doctors to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions and injuries. They receive an education similar to that of other medical doctors, which takes about 8 to 10 years.