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The Radiologist

Who is the radiologist?

A radiologist is a medical doctor (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) who has finished a 4-year residency in radiology. They often act as a consultant to another doctor who is caring for the patient. Or they may be the patient's primary doctor in treating a disease.

After their residency, most radiologists and radiation oncologists become board-certified. This may be done by the American Board of Radiology (for a medical doctor). Or by the American Osteopathic Board of Radiology (for an osteopathic doctor). Some go right into practice. But radiology has become a very specialized field. So others begin fellowship programs for more training to focus on a specialty area, such as:

  • Neuroradiology. Focuses on the central nervous system, head, neck, and spine.

  • Pediatric radiology. Focuses on ways to create images of children's bodies, their organs, and internal structures.

  • Breast imaging. Focuses on diagnosing breast diseases.

  • Cardiovascular radiology. Focuses on diagnosing diseases of the heart and blood vessels. This includes the arteries and veins.

  • Chest radiology. Focuses on diagnosing and treating the chest, specifically the heart and lungs.

  • Gastrointestinal radiology. Focuses on diagnosing and treating the digestive tract.

  • Genitourinary radiology. Focuses on diagnosing and treating the organs of the reproductive and urinary tracts.

  • Musculoskeletal radiology. Focuses on diseases of the muscles and skeleton.

  • Emergency radiology. Focuses on diagnosis of trauma and nontraumatic emergency conditions.

  • Interventional radiology. A subspecialty of radiology. It focuses on diagnosing and treating patients by using minimally invasive interventional techniques. These include imaging and treatment of blood vessels (angiography), biopsy procedures, line and tube placement, and fluid abscess drainage.

  • Nuclear radiology. A subspecialty of radiology. It focuses on diagnosing and treating people with tiny doses of radioactive material.

Who does the diagnostic imaging?

Diagnostic imaging can be done by these providers:

  • Radiologist

  • Specialized doctors. Some specialists can do basic imaging such as X-rays or ultrasounds. For instance, an ob-gyn may do a routine ultrasound on a pregnant woman. Subspecialist cardiologists often read CT or MRI scans of the heart.

  • Radiologic technologists. These professionals are specially trained to do certain imaging techniques. They are certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists or another registry. They are supervised by a radiologist.

Where is diagnostic imaging done?

Diagnostic imaging can be done in many settings, such as:

  • Hospital-based radiology departments

  • Freestanding outpatient centers

  • Specialized centers, such as cancer, urology, or sports medicine centers

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