A radiologist is a medical doctor who has subspecialised in medical imaging. This includes modalities such as x-ray, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), CT scans, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, flouroscopy. These scans are used to diagnose medical conditions.
There are two main types sub-sects. These are diagnostic radiology who use diagnostic imaging to diagnose a disease. They are known as diagnostic radiologists.
Interventional radiologists are also radiolgists who specialise further in using minimally invasive procedures using medical imaging to treat medical conditions. The majority of an interventional radiology workload will be vascular and will involve using medical images to carry out invasive procedures and techniques. These can include the use of flouroscopy, CT scans or even ultrasound (sound waves) to guide drains or take samples ni real time from various parts of the body.
It is important to note that interventional radiology does require an extra year of training. It is also worth noting that interventional radiology can be much busier and suits the kind of individual who tends to use their hands a lot and be on their feet.
Anatomy, clinical knowledge and understanding as to how pathology can present itself in various scans is the key to the radiologists skill set.
Radiology training is relatively short compared to other subspecialties. The imaging exams can be very difficult and include FRCR/ Board exams/RANZR depending on where you are in the world.
Serisouly what do radiologists do?
The specialty of radiology involves using the understanding of anatomy, human body pathology and medical procedures to write a radiology report from medical imaging. The radiology report will help in the treatment of patients. This can be slightly different for an interventional radiologist who will also have the ability to minimally invasive procedures to help patients.
Radiologists are incredibly important to the patient pathway and are at the heart of many key decisions.
Radiologists work as part of the clinical team and can be seen as a ‘doctors doctor’. It is very important to have good communcation skills to use diagnostic radiology and diagnostic imaging to talk to clinical colleagues.
It can also involve the balancing of risks compared to benefits of carrying out imaging techniques as X rays can be harmful to patients.
How do I become a radiologist?
Although it can be unusual that anyone would go into medical school thinking they would want to sit ina dark room all day looking at a screen, it can eventually (!) appeal to a cohort of medical school graduates.
Although the pathway can vary from country-to-country, in the UK the process would start after completing medical education at a medical school and then going onto completing foundation training.
It can be competitive to get into radiology but that should not put you off. So was getting into medical school right? For diagnostic radiology the training is 5 years long but 6 years for interventional radiology.
What types of radiologists are there?
Diagnostic radiologists include:
- General radiologists
- Musculoskeletal radiologists (specialising in bones/joints imaging)
- Breast radiologists ( specialising in breast imaging)
- Chest Radiologists ( specialising in lung imaging)
- GI radiologists (mainly bowel imaging)
- Paediatric imaging (Imaging of children)
Interventional Radiologists are mainly two types:
- Vascular interventional radiologists
- Neurointerventional radiologists