What is Radiology?

Radiology is the medical discipline that uses medical imaging to diagnose and treat diseases within the bodies of animals, including humans.

A variety of imaging techniques such as X-ray radiography, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine including positron emission tomography (PET), fluoroscopic, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are used to diagnose or treat diseases. Interventional radiology is the performance of usually minimally invasive medical procedures with the guidance of imaging technologies such as those mentioned above.

The modern practice of radiology involves several different healthcare professions working as a team. The radiologist is a medical doctor who has completed the appropriate post-graduate training and interprets medical images, communicates these findings to other physicians by means of a report or verbally, and uses imaging to perform minimally invasive medical procedures. The nurse is involved in the care of patients before and after imaging or procedures, including administration of medications, monitoring of vital signs and monitoring of sedated patients. The radiographer, also known as a "radio-logic technologist" in some countries such as the United States and Canada, is a specially trained healthcare professional that uses sophisticated technology and positioning techniques to produce medical images for the radiologist to interpret. Depending on the individual's training and country of practice, the radiographer may specialize in one of the above-mentioned imaging modalities or have expanded roles in image reporting.

Projectional Radiography

Projectional radiography, also known as conventional radiography, is a form of radiography and medical imaging that produces two-dimensional images by x-ray radiation. The image acquisition is generally performed by radiographers, and the images are often examined by radiologists. Both the procedure and any resultant images are often simply called "X-ray". Plain radiography or roentgenography generally refers to projectional radiography (without the use of more advanced techniques such as computed tomography that can generate 3D-images). Plain radiography can also refer to radiography without a radio-contrast agent or radiography that generates single static images, as contrasted to fluoroscopic, which are technically also projectional.


Fluoroscopy is an imaging technique that uses X-rays to obtain real-time moving images of the interior of an object. In its primary application of medical imaging, a fluoroscope allows a physician to see the internal structure and function of a patient, so that the pumping action of the heart or the motion of swallowing, for example, can be watched. This is useful for both diagnosis and therapy and occurs in general radiology, interventional radiology, and image-guided surgery.

In its simplest form, a fluoroscope consists of an X-ray source and a fluorescent screen, between which a patient is placed. However, since the 1950s most fluoroscopes have included X-ray image intensifiers and cameras as well, to improve the image's visibility and make it available on a remote display screen. For many decades, fluoroscopy tended to produce live pictures that were not recorded, but since the 1960s, as technology improved, recording and playback became the norm.

Fluoroscopy is similar to radiography and X-ray computed tomography (X-ray CT) in that it generates images using X-rays. The original difference was that radiography fixed still images on film whereas fluoroscopy provided live moving pictures that were not stored. However, today radiography, CT, and fluoroscopy are all digital imaging modes with image analysis software and data storage and retrieval.

CT Scan

A CT scan or computed tomography scan is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to get detailed images of the body noninvasive for diagnostic purposes. The personnel that perform CT scans are called radiographers or radiology technologists.

CT scanners use a rotating x-ray tube and a row of detectors placed in the gantry to measure X-ray attenuation's by different tissues inside the body. The multiple X-ray measurements taken from different angles are then processed on a computer using reconstruction algorithms to produce tomographic images of a body. The use of ionizing radiations sometimes restricts its use owing to its adverse effects. However, CT can be used in patients with metallic implants or pacemakers where MRI is a contraindication.


Medical ultrasonography uses ultrasound to visualize soft tissue structures in the body in real time. No ionizing radiation is involved, but the quality of the images obtained using ultrasound is highly dependent on the skill of the person performing the exam and the patient's body size. Examinations of larger, overweight patients may have a decrease in image quality as their subcutaneous fat absorbs more of the sound waves. This results in fewer sound waves penetrating to organs and reflecting back to the transducer, resulting in loss of information and a poorer quality image. Ultrasound is also limited by its inability to image through air pockets (lungs, bowel loops) or bone. Its use in medical imaging has developed mostly within the last 30 years. The first ultrasound images were static and two-dimensional (2D), but with modern ultrasonography, 3D reconstructions can be observed in real time, effectively becoming "4D".

Interventional Radiology

Interventional radiology is a subspecialty of radiology in which minimally invasive procedures are performed using image guidance. Some of these procedures are done for purely diagnostic purposes, while others are done for treatment purposes. The basic concept behind interventional radiology is to diagnose or treat pathologies, with the most minimally invasive technique possible. Minimally invasive procedures are currently performed more than ever before. These procedures are often performed with the patient fully awake, with little or no sedation required. Interventional radiologists and interventional radiographers diagnose and treat several disorders, including peripheral vascular disease, renal artery stenosis, inferior vena cava filter placement, gastrostomy tube placements, biliary stents and hepatic interventions. Radio-graphic images, fluoroscopy, and ultrasound modalities are used for guidance, and the primary instruments used during the procedure are specialized needles and catheters.