Who is the radiologist?
The radiologist is a medical doctor who has completed a four year residency in either diagnostic radiology or radiation oncology. A radiologist may act as a consultant to another physician who is caring for the patient, or act as the patient's primary physician in treating a disease (such as a radiation oncologist).
Following the residency, most radiologists and radiation oncologists become board-certified by the American Board of Radiology. Some go directly into practice, while others enter fellowship programs for additional training in a specialized area, such as the following:
- neuroradiology - diagnostic radiology that focuses on the central nervous system, head, and neck.
- pediatric radiology - diagnostic radiology that focuses on the unique techniques used to create images of children's bodies, their organs, and internal structures.
As a result of increasing knowledge and levels of technology in the field, radiology has become highly specialized, as have most other medical and surgical specialties. The current trend is for radiologists to become specialized in a particular discipline, such as cardiology (the study and treatment of the heart) or neurology (the study and treatment of the brain and nervous system).
Board-certified radiologists must adhere to the Practice Standards of the American College of Radiology.
Who performs the diagnostic imaging?
Diagnostic imaging can be performed by the following professionals:
- specialized physician, who can perform basic imaging functions such as x-rays or ultrasounds. An example is an obstetrician who performs a routine ultrasound on a pregnant woman.
- radiographers, who are specially trained to perform specific imaging techniques and are certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, or another registry. Radiographers work under the direction and supervision of the radiologist.
Where is diagnostic imaging done?
Diagnostic imaging can be performed in a number of settings, including the following:
- hospital-based radiology departments
- freestanding outpatient centers
- specialized centers (i.e., urology or sports medicine centers)