The Role of the Radiologists
A radiologist is a specialist medical doctor who specialises in diagnosing and treating disease and injury by using medical imaging techniques such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), fusion imaging, and ultrasound.
A radiologist has graduated from medical school (five to six years) and has worked for a number of years in hospitals as a resident doctor. A further five years specialist training in a teaching hospital has then been undertaken, with successful completion of a comprehensive examination in: radiation safety/protection; radiation effects on the human body; appropriate performance and interpretation of quality radiologic and medical imaging examinations (radiodiagnosis); and pathology.
A radiologist plays a key role in your healthcare by:
- Supervising the technical quality of imaging tests, interpreting the images and writing a report on the imaging findings for your referring doctor.
- Acting as an expert consultant to your referring doctor by aiding him or her in choosing the proper examination, interpreting the resulting medical images, and in using test results in your healthcare.
- Treating diseases by means of minimally invasive, image-guided surgery (interventional radiology).
- Correlating medical image findings with other examinations and tests.
- Recommending further appropriate examinations or treatments when necessary, and conferring with referring physicians.
- Directing radiology technologists (personnel who operate the equipment) in the proper performance of quality examinations.
The Role of the Radiographer (also known as Medical Imaging Technologist)
A radiographer or medical imaging technologist is a trained health professional who performs medical imaging by producing high quality X-ray, mammography or CT pictures used to diagnose and treat injury or disease.
It is an important part of medicine and a patient’s diagnosis and treatment is often dependent on the X-ray images produced.
A radiographer plays a key role in your healthcare by:
- Receiving and interpret requests from medical practitioners for imaging examinations to be performed on patients.
- Determining the appropriate imaging techniques which will provide the required diagnostic information for the doctor.
- Calculating details of procedures such as length and intensity of exposure to radiation and settings of recording equipment.
- Explaining procedures to patients, making sure they receive the correct preparation for the procedure and make sure that any concern about radiation processes is minimised.
- Making sure of the patient’s welfare during the examination, including radiation safety.
- Developing the X-ray films /process and archive digital images.
- Operating special equipment such as fluoroscopy equipment (which gives a moving image of the part being examined), angiography equipment (which images blood vessels) and computed tomography (CT) equipment (which gives crosssectional images of the body).
The Role of the Sonographer
Sonographers are diagnostic medical professionals who use ultrasound machines to produce diagnostic images, scans, videos, or 3D images. These images are used to diagnose health problems.
Ultrasound is commonly used to look at your abdominal organs such as liver, gallbladder, kidneys and spleen. Ultrasound is also used for assessing the female pelvis, the prostate, the thyroid gland, muscles and tendons and importantly the breasts. Ultrasound is the safest way to image unborn babies and is regularly used to assess for foetal abnormalities, determine due dates for pregnant women and assess the growth of babies in the uterus.
Sonography requires specialised education and skills to view, analyze and modify the scan to optimize the information in the image. Because of the high levels of decisional latitude and diagnostic input, sonographers have a high degree of responsibility in the diagnostic process.
Most sonographers have trained as radiographers or nuclear medicine technicians originally and then do extra training and exams to become sonographers.
As with radiologists and radiographers, sonographers require an excellent understanding in ultrasound physics, cross sectional anatomy, physiology, pathology and communication skills; as well as highly developed psycho-motor skills that are specific to the profession.