What is Radiology?

Radiology is the use of radiation for different types of “imaging,” including X-rays. Imaging simply means creating an image of the inner configuration of a dense object, such as part of the human body, with the use of radiant energy. Radiology is also sometimes called radioscopy or Clinical Radiology, the latter due to the many uses of imaging techniques for diagnosis as well as treatment of injury or disease. Imaging includes X-rays, radiant dye, ultrasound, CT scan and MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging.

In the medical field, radiology is a specialization. A radiologist reads or interprets an image to pinpoint an injury, determine how serious the injury is or help detect abnormalities such as tumors. This is why patients frequently have to wait for the “official” results of an X-ray or other image even if the primary caregiver has reviewed it. A specialist in radiology must also interpret the results and consult with the physician or offer a report of his or her findings in order to achieve an accurate diagnosis. Clinics and medical facilities that do not employ an on-site radiologist must send the image out for interpretation and await the findings.

Radiology is an important component of diagnosis and treatment, so the radiologist has a great responsibility to obtain clear, distinct images and review them with extreme care. Faulty images or interpretations can lead to missing things or even to misdiagnosis of the patient’s condition. Obtaining high quality images through radiology can be difficult when a patient is in pain or suffering from illness, so a radiologist or imaging tech must have an excellent bedside manner.

The radiologist must also be able to comfort the patient, keeping him or her calm, and able to explain radiology procedures clearly to reduce the patient’s anxiety. He or she must also thoroughly observe the patient’s medical records and ask questions to insure that X-rays or other imaging techniques are not particularly risky for a specific patient, for example, a woman that is or could be pregnant. Since radiology techniques require the use of radiation, a tech must also protect him or herself and the patient from the possible dangers associated with radiation.