Radiology today is one of the most marketable fields in health care. It can provide a well-paying job with an opportunity for advancement. A career as a radiologist will also provide you with a variety of specialization options that you can choose from. Radiology specialization can further enhance your earning potential and make you more competitive in the market.
Most students tend to shy away from this career path, owing to its misconceived complexity, length, and the associated education costs.Those interested in this profession can benefit from conducting research, talking to current practitioners, or visiting colleges that offer this program, in order to make a more informed decision. There are also a number of Scholarships for Radiology Students, including full-funded and partial-funded options with allowances, grants, and stipends.
So What Is Radiology Medicine?
In a nutshell, radiology is a science or subdivision of medicine that uses imaging technologies such as X-Rays, mostly in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of diseases. There are different types of imaging and radiology specialties, most of which fall into either interventional or diagnostic radiology. Medical practitioners who specialize in radiology and imaging techniques are known as radiologists. Below, we take a closer look at Imaging and Radiology: what it is and what it’s used for.
In interventional radiology (IR), a radiologist makes use of imaging techniques such as ultrasound, CT-Scan, MRI, and fluoroscopy to help in guiding them through various procedures. Some of these may include procedures such as catheterization, where imaging is used instead of inserting a camera/scope into the patient’s body to have a better view of the internal organs/tissues of concern.
Interventional radiologists are often involved in the treatment, progress monitoring, and diagnosis of a variety of diseases, including tumors, cancers, liver problems, kidney issues, uterine problems, spinal issues, fibroids, cardiovascular disease, and much more. Most interventional radiology procedures utilize minimally-invasive procedures, and more often than not, they rarely require hospitalization.
Some of the most common interventional radiology procedures include the following:
- Embolization - used in procedures where the control of bleeding is needed
- Tumor ablation
- Biopsies - including breast biopsy, lung biopsy, thyroid biopsy
- Catheter installation
- Angiography/angioplasty and stent placement
- Cancer treatments using either Y-90 radioembolization or chemoembolization
As the name suggests, diagnostic radiology (DR) involves the use of radiology for the pure purpose of medical diagnosis. Called diagnostic radiology exams, these procedures are conducted by a diagnostic radiologist. They are typically used to pinpoint the probable cause of certain disease symptoms, screen certain illnesses and to internally monitor how the body is responding to a specific treatment. Some of the most common types of DR include the following:
- CT - Computerized tomography
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
- MRA (magnetic resonance angiography)
- Nuclear medicine procedures (cardiac stress test, bone scan, thyroid scans)
Each of the above techniques is unique in terms of application, how the procedures are carried out, the quality of images, and the specific radiology technology/equipment used.
Technology Equipment Used In Radiology
There are many different kinds of equipment used in imaging and radiology. Here are some of the more common ones:
X-ray machine: A machine that uses electromagnetic radiations called x-ray to visualize the interior structures of the body. It is a non-invasive method that doesn’t require incisions or sedation. Some of the most X-Ray procedures include chest x-ray, thyroid x-ray, joint x-ray, and abdominal x-ray.
CT scanner: It usually creates a sequence of cross-sectional images of the body often using X-rays. The main difference between plain x-ray images and CT scan images is that the latter produces images that are more detailed. This makes it easier to identify the root cause of a problem with more precision, especially in soft tissues.
MRI machine: Instead of radiation the Magnetic resonance machine uses a magnetic field to produce quality images of the body's interior tissues. This is often used when a CT scanner cannot access some parts of the body clearly, like bones, for instance.
Just a point of clarity, the medical personnel who capture the radiology images are known as radiographers, not to be confused with radiologists, who interpret the results and recommend further exams or certain treatments/medication.
In summary, a career as a radiologist can offer a great opportunity for earning a good salary as well as continuing to advance with new technologies and innovation in this area. Additionally, there is a sense of gratification that practitioners can make a difference in improving people’s lives by ensuring that the process of disease diagnosis and treatment is better and faster than ever before.