We all are aware of the concept of medical imaging. Once in a while, we all must have been exposed to a process called medical imaging like X-Rays, CT scans, MRI scans, etc.
Medical Imaging, in simple terms, means using variable amounts of radiation techniques to form an image of a specific or various parts of our body. This process and technique are called medical imaging.
Whereas, Radiology refers to the technique that uses medical imaging in the field of medicine. Radiology uses radiation/radiant energy and medical imaging methods to diagnose diseases in humans and animals to treat them.
Radiology is performed in hospitals and clinics, and there are specialized doctors or physicians called Radiologists who diagnose and treat people with such medical concerns.
The medical imaging techniques and methods used for diagnosing are:
Fluoroscopy, Computed tomography (CT) scans, Positron emission tomography (PET) scans – nuclear medicine, etc.
So, how is it like to have a career as a radiologist? Before you choose this field as a full-time career, you learn a few things about the field of radiology, its types, career scopes, and opportunities.
Why is radiology important in medicine?
Medicinal fields have developed in the past decades due to the exceptional use of technology and advancements in diagnostic methods. However, the only purpose of physicians/doctors is to diagnose and treat any form of the disease and save the lives of humans and animals.
Due to the technical advancements in medicine, doctors have figured out a way to save their patient’s life. Radiology is one such exceptional advancement in the history of medicine.
- It helps in the early diagnosis of the disease, which helps the doctors to figure out effective methods and opt for the best approach to perform the treatments.
- There are numerous fields in healthcare/medicine like Obstetrics, Pediatrics, Oncology, Surgery, Cardiology, Emergency diseases, Viral or Infectious diseases, etc. All these sectors need a radiology scan before they jump to conclusions and their treatments.
- Radiology is diagnostic imaging of a certain part of the body. The scan provides an image of the body with the affected organs or areas. This provides the doctors with more detailed information regarding the disease and a better approach to the patients’ treatments.
- Radiology provides multiple tools and technology to the patients. This provides an ease to the treatment of such patients. The variation in structure is learned and examined carefully through imaging of the infected areas.
- The methods used in Radiology are varied according to the type of medical issues that corresponds to its treatments. These methods provide a deep insight into the structure of the affected areas.
Hence, radiology makes treating diseases like cancers or some tumors possible if detected in the early stages.
Where is Radiology used in healthcare?
Now that we have learned about the importance of radiology in the healthcare sector let us overview the diagnostic methods radiologists use in several areas.
A mammogram is a machine that uses medical imaging to diagnose cancer in breasts. The technique of imaging is termed mammography. Here the X-rays of breasts are taken, and the affected area is treated through diagnostic radiology. Radiologists that are specialized in this field perform the diagnosis.
An X-ray machine is one of the most widely used radiological methods to diagnose any abnormalities in the internal structure of the body parts. The X-ray machine captures the body part, scans, records it, and releases a computerized result of the organ or a part of the body.
Computed Tomography(CT) Scan
CT scan or computed tomography is a detailed process that involves an X-ray to scan the various parts of the body through a machine. A person’s body is sent into the scanner, and detailed pictures are taken from the scan in two-dimensional and three-dimensional forms. X-ray dye is used in CT scan images to enhance the quality of the scanned image.
CT scan takes a few seconds to complete the scan.
The ultrasound machine has several features. First, it has a probe put on a particular body part to produce the image on the screen. Second, the ultrasound probe emits sound waves of high frequency that a human ear cannot detect. These probes are used to detect these reflected high-frequency sound waves and help the radiologist study and diagnose the disease.
The method to use ultrasound in a diagnostic radiology field has been widely used to:
- examine the fetus of a pregnant woman
- Diagnose medical conditions to examine the liver
- To examine cardiac issues
- And diagnose diseases in blood vessels and kidneys.
There are more radiology techniques like:
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Dual Energy X-Ray Absorption (DEXA)
- Isotope Scanning – A type of Nuclear medicine
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
- Bone densitometry
The picture shown below shows the different types of imaging techniques and brain imaging results in the same area. Here we can see the difference between the five types of scans – MRI, PET, X-Ray, CT, and MRA scans.
Therefore, Radiologists are specialized doctors who perform these medical scanning and diagnose the diseases.
Types of Radiologists
Radiology is said to be the most advanced and technologically developed field in medicine.
As the type of medicinal imaging differs, their techniques, radiation, and studies vary, so do the radiologists according to their specialized areas.
There are three types of Radiologists in the healthcare industry:
In healthcare, diagnostic radiologists are the doctors/physicians who use these imaging techniques to see the structures inside the body. This helps them to understand the structure and diagnose the disease with proper treatment.
They are also able to monitor the treatment and effects of a diagnosis of their patients.
Some of the most common examples of diagnostic radiology include:
- Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Computed tomography (CT) Scans
- Mammography, etc.
Interventional Radiologists are doctors who specialize in image-guided surgeries. These radiology specialists use diagnostic imaging techniques and tools in their surgeries for a guided procedure. (Example: CT scan, MRI, X-Ray, etc.)
Interventional radiology is effective and costs less, and results in faster recoveries. These radiology specialists do not prefer laparoscopic or open surgeries (keyhole). They prefer minimum invasive surgeries.
Some of the examples of interventional radiology are:
- Feeding tube placement
- Embolization to control bleeding
- Blockages in veins and fibroids in the uterus
- Treatments for cancer – to shrink tumors in the affected area of the body
- Catheter placements, etc.
Radiologists who are involved in radiotherapy are called therapeutic radiologists.
Radiologists provide therapy in the field of oncology for cancer treatments.
Radiation shrinks the cancer cells and kills them finally. It also stops the growth and multiplication of cancer cells in a particular area.
An oncologist uses a headrest, molds, and other devices to map out the area to be treated during the therapy. Then, the shield is provided to the patient for the radiation to be provided in the right area only.
These were the types of radiology field, and the details of the areas radiology is used.
Radiology is a rewarding career with exciting as well as challenging opportunities.
Education qualifications of a radiologist
If you are aspiring to become a radiologist, then just know that you have the right plan. All you need to do is make sure that you fulfill the requirements of your educational background to pursue a career as a radiologist.
- A radiologist aspirant needs to complete their bachelor’s degree in radiology and earn a doctorate in medicine. They can also earn a doctorate in osteopathic medicine.
- After completing their degree in medicine, they must complete their residency in their specialized field or a clinical internship.
- These include post-medical training and internships in radiological procedures, interpretation of imaging in medicine, and radiation safety,
- A medical license is a must for practicing as a radiologist. Certification in the American Board of Radiology is a must for radiologists.
Scope as a radiologist
- Radiologists of every type – therapeutic radiologists/oncologists or diagnostic radiology specialists have a wide range of scope and opportunities in this career.
- It is a very rewarding career with various perks and benefits. Radiologists are widely in demand due to technological advancement, and imaging methods play a vital role in medical treatments.
- They are promoted based on their work and because of the risk, they take during their procedures and diagnosis.
- Radiologists have a bright career and various learning opportunities throughout their practice in this field.
- Radiologists work in clinics, radiotherapy laboratories, hospitals, imaging facilities, etc.
- Radiologists are some of the highest-paid doctors in the healthcare industry. Their salaries differ based on their profession and specialization. But on an average salary of a radiologist is around $425890 as per the reports on August 27, 2021.
- Apart from the scope, perks, and benefits of a radiologist’s career, you must also be aware of the risks a radiologist goes through. As they deal with radiations at different frequencies and work in such an environment, they are exposed to radiation and are at risk of health issues.
- Radiologists receive a radiation dose of X-rays that could be a possible health problem in the future resulting in cancer. There exist a chance of genetic risks as well due to exposure to radiation.
- Although, the radiologists are provided training and taught safety measures well in advance to decrease the possibility of occupational hazards. They are hardworking, dedicated, and goal-oriented physicians.
Therefore, radiology is a much-respected career with various opportunities ahead. However, if you aspire to kick start your career in the field of radiology, then you must satisfy the educational requirements and other criteria.
Radiology is a career-high in demand and provides a good scope with challenging cases and experiences throughout your career.