What Is a Radiology Specialist?

A radiology specialist is a medical professional who utilizes his knowledge of radioactive substances and treatments to test, diagnose and treat many diseases and medical conditions, such as cancerous tumors, broken bones and brain abnormalities. These medical experts commonly perform ultrasound procedures, X-rays, computed axial tomography (CAT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans using a wide range of specialized equipment. Specialists also commonly supervise radiology technicians in operating diagnostic and treatment equipment.

The most common radioactive medical procedures are X-rays and CAT scans. The specialist and other physicians and medical professionals utilize these radioactive machines and their images in conjunction with other diagnostic tools to examine organs and internal body parts for growths and other abnormalities. He regularly injects patients with radiopaque substances or administers the substances orally or through enemas to enable him to clearly see internal organs and structures.

Subsequent to the diagnosis, the radiology specialist may administer treatments involving radioactive materials. Commonly treated abnormalities include malignant internal and external tumors and growths. These are normally treated by exposure to external sources of radiation or by having similar substances implanted in the body area containing the growth. Radiology specialists normally share updates on the results of these treatments with physicians.

Besides X-rays and CAT scans, a radiology specialist regularly assists with fluoroscopy procedures of the digestive system. He may also conduct soft tissue radiographic exams and bone surveys. His other responsibilities may regularly include radiographic, prenatal and pediatric examinations of nervous, respiratory and vascular systems. Localizing foreign bodies and performing body section radiography procedures are also common jobs of a radiology specialist.

A radiology specialist uses both fixed and portable equipment in his job, as it is often more practical to move equipment than the patient. He takes care to ensure patients are not exposed to unnecessary doses of radiation. The specialist is commonly expected to repeat procedures that produce unclear images. He is also normally required to keep the equipment he uses in good condition through regularly scheduled maintenance.

Besides testing and interacting with patients, a radiology specialist traditionally maintains daily ledgers of activities. He is also typically required to keep patient records, including radiographic files. Making sure doctors and staff members have radiographic reports in a timely manner is a frequent job requirement for a radiology specialist.

Radiology specialists normally work in hospitals. Others are routinely employed at physician practices or clinics. A significant number of radiology specialists work on mobile units that offer services in communities that lack full service medical facilities. Depending on the region or country, education requirements vary. Most areas require prospective radiologists to complete a certification program; others may require associate’s or bachelor’s degrees. Some regions also require specific radiology safety licensure as well.