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Role of Radiology in Healthcare: Introduction, Imaging Techniques

Radiology is a branch of medicine that uses imaging to treat and diagnose diseases seen within the body. With the evolving technology, healthcare industry day by day getting more advanced in imaging. Radiologist as a physician adds value to the healthcare industry  by interpreting and generating  diagnostic images. In our previous articles, we explain cloud computing in healthcare, healthcare transformed by technology, Virtual Reality in healthcare, EHR Benefits, Healthcare types etc. Here we are going to explain radiology, diagnostic radiology in detail.

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Diagnostic radiologists read the images and produce the report of their findings & impressions depending upon the location. Afterward, the report is then transmitted to the doctor who requesting the imaging. All such images got digitally stored in PACS and can be viewed anytime by all the members of the healthcare system.

Radiology Basics [Introduction]

As per interest, some radiologists focus on the particular imaging technique or some not. Radiologists treat disease by means of radiation (nuclear medicine or radiation oncology) or image guided surgery. Have a look at its history, types, subspecialties etc.

History of Radiology:

In 1895, while working in a laboratory in Würzburg in German, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, radiology physician noticed that in a room after some time, a screen painted with a fluorescent material kept at a distance from a cathode ray tube had   energized. This indicates that the screen was responding to the nearby production of unknown rays transmitted invisibly through the room. After some time  radiographic images began to create as a burst of ionizing radiation and causing a contrast image on a piece of film. For his  fantastic and ultimate discovery, he was honored with the first Noble prize in Physics in 1901.

Diagnostic Radiology:

Many Healthcare professionals use diagnostic radiology to see structures inside the body. Physicians that are specialized in the interpretation of these images are called diagnostic radiologists. Using these images radiologist can easily diagnose the cause of your symptoms and monitor how well your body respond to treatment. To treat or diagnose diseases various digital imaging techniques such as Computed tomography, X-ray radiography, Ultrasound, nuclear medicine including MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging ) , PET ( Positron Emission Tomography) etc are used. Following of imaging techniques are:

(i) Computed Tomography:

Computed Tomography is an imaging technique used to diagnose some urgent or emergent conditions such as aortic dissection, pulmonary embolism,  cerebral hemorrhage, appendicitis etc. It creates detailed images of blood vessels, internal organs, bones, soft tissue etc. In CT, a ring-shaped apparatus rotate around a patient producing a computer generated a cross-sectional image. The patient is more exposed to ionizing radiation than a radiograph.

(ii) Ultrasound:

Ultrasound scan known as ultrasonography is a device that uses high-frequency sound waves to visualize soft tissue structures such as tendons, muscles, joints, internal organs, blood vessels etc. Like CT scan, this imaging technique will not use ionized radiation to generate images. It is completely safer technique, also helpful in the diagnosis of many fetal anomalies.

(iii) MRI:

Magnetic resonance imaging technique uses radio waves, magnetism, computer etc to produces images of body structures. As compare to other imaging techniques, MRI has the ability to produce images in axial, sagittal, coronal and multiple oblique planes with equal ease. Physicians prefer MRI in imaging the brain, musculoskeletal system, spine etc.

(iv) Nuclear Medicine:

To diagnose and determine the severity of disease includes cancer , neurological disorders, endocrine, heart disease, gastrointestinal etc, this branch of medical imaging uses a small amount of radioactive material. Using these techniques, the heart, liver, thyroid, gallbladder, bones are mainly evaluated for particular conditions.

Diagnostic Radiology Subspecialties:

Depending upon the interest radiologist can become a master of individual specialty or not. As per our research, radiologist through extensive clinical work may specialize in one or more subspecialties. Following of subspecialties are:

  • Emergency Radiology
  • Cardiovascular Radiology
  • Head and Neck Radiology
  • Breast Imaging
  • Neuroradiology
  • Interventional Radiology
  • Pediatric Radiology
  • Musculoskeletal Radiology
  • Nuclear Radiology

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