A radiologist is someone trained in obtaining and interpreting medical images generated with x-rays, nuclear medicine, or ultrasound. Radiologists are either physicians or medical specialists, with the former performing medical imaging in addition to their tasks of examining patients, diagnosing illness, obtaining medical history, and prescribing treatment.

Radiology has become a vast field, with several subspecialties, such as physicians who perform cardiovascular radiology, mammography and breast procedures, and oncology. As technological advancements increase, more uses are discovered for medical imaging as a less invasive and more diagnostically accurate technique. You can read about these on

Branches of Radiology

Radiology branches include radiology technologists, assistants and radiation therapists. All of these health professionals provide invaluable help and assistance to physicians in making clinical observations and conducting procedures.

Functions of Radiology

Radiologists primarily interpret the medical images created by CT scans, MRIs, ultrasounds and X-rays. Additionally, they need to have the knowledge required to operate all the different types of machinery that are used to obtain medical images. Plus, they administer radioactive materials to the patient to obtain medical imaging. Radiologists working with nuclear medicine will inject radioactive tracers into the bloodstream of the patient. They then follow these tracers in order to study the patient’s blood flow, as well as how their nervous system responds to them. The results are then used in order to screen for a variety of medical conditions, and to assess the patient’s general physical health.

Radiologists might also use interventional radiology in order to perform minor medical procedures like amniocentesis, which involves inserting a needle into the amniotic sac of a pregnant woman to study the health of the developing embryo. Or they might use therapeutic radiology to treat diseases like cancer by battling them with radioactive agents.

The radiologists’ work involves a lot of interactions with other health professionals, like with oncologists, physicians and technologists. After obtaining and interpreting the results, the radiologist will offer advice on them to the doctor to enable them to make their final decision informatively. The majority of the radiologist’s job will involve the interpretation the results of radioactive imaging. This means there is minimal patient contact, especially if the tests are performed primarily by an assistant or a technician. The radiologist is primarily a facilitator, the “doctor’s doctor” who enables the physician to make the right decisions for the patient. It is the patient’s physician that will carry out dialogue with them, apply the results of their scans and make treatment decisions.

Where Do Radiologists Work?

Radiologists mostly work within a medical facility like a hospital, where different kinds of radiation machines are used. Larger centers might have assistants or technicians performing most of the manual work that involves contact with radioactive material and radiation. However, the radiologist must have working knowledge of how to operate the machinery, and may at times be exposed to radioactive materials too. Smaller centers usually have the radiologist operating the equipment, as well as performing the interpretation and diagnosis.