Radiology is a specialty of medicine that uses ionizing and nonionizing radiation for the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Radiology uses technologies, such as X-Ray Radiography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Nuclear Medicine, Ultrasound, Computed Tomography (CT), and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to see within the human body in order to diagnose disease and abnormalities.
What is the difference between a radiologist and a radiographer?
A specialist in radiology is a radiologist; a doctor who then specializes in radiology. To become a radiologist you must first complete your training at a medical or osteopathic school to become a doctor, and then train for an additional five to six years.
A radiographer, or radiologic technician is a person who performs the radiography imaging scans, such as X-Rays – they then operate the imaging machines. A radiographer is not a doctor, while a radiologist is.
The radiologist looks at the images and interprets them. He/she pinpoints an injury or abnormality, determines what it is and possibly how severe the abnormality is. The radiologist will typically consult with the patient’s doctor when interpreting the results of an imaging scan.
What is Fluoroscopy?
This is a type of medical imaging that displays a continuous X-Ray image on a screen – a bit like an X-Ray movie. It displays the movement of a body part or of an instrument or contrast agent (dye) through the human body.
In this procedure, an X-Ray beam passes through the body, the image is transmitted to a screen so that a specific body part and its motion can be viewed in fine detail.
Fluoroscopy may be used in several different types of examinations and procedures, such as:
– To see movement through the gastrointestinal tract, using Barium X-Rays and enemas
– An angioplasty or angiography procedure, to direct the placement of a catheter
– To be able to see how blood flows through specific organs
– To look at fractures or fracture treatments following orthopedic surgery
What is Interventional Radiology?
This is a rapidly expanding field of medicine. Interventional radiology is minimally invasive, targeted treatments which are performed using imaging guidance. These procedures are often carried out instead of open surgery. They are less risky, involve no large incisions, and are less painful, compared to surgical procedures. Patients who undergo interventional radiologic procedures usually recover faster.
Some interventional procedures, such as angiograms, are done for just diagnostic purposes, while others, for example angioplasty, are treatment procedures.
Somebody who works in this field is called an interventional radiologist. They can diagnose and treat several different types of diseases and disorders, including hepatic interventions, gastrostomy tube placements, inferior vena cava filter placements, renal artery stenosis, and peripheral vascular disease.
The main purpose of using images in interventional radiology is for guidance – the images help the surgeon use his/her instruments accurately and precisely. The main instruments used are needles and catheters.
With the guidance of images, the interventional radiologist can thread the instruments through the body to wherever the disease or injury is located. Interventional radiology involved much less physical trauma to the patient, compared to other procedures.