What is radiology?
Radiology (also known as 'diagnostic imaging') is the branch of medicine that uses non-invasive technology to create images of the bones, tissues and organs within the human body. These images are interpreted by a radiologist or nuclear medicine physician to identify or monitor diseases or injuries. The findings are then included in a written report to the referring doctor.
Radiology technologies include X-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasounds, nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography (PET) and more. Imaging methods are also used to help radiologists perform procedures, such as biopsies, fine needle aspirations and image-guided treatments known as interventional radiology.
Radiology is central to the practice of modern medicine. It is used for the diagnosis of many serious and life-threatening conditions, including cancer, neurological disorders and orthopaedic soft tissue injuries. The information contained in the image and radiologist’s report expands the referring doctor’s knowledge of the disease process and guides the treatment of the patient.
Types of radiology
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to capture detailed images of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, muscles, ligaments and tendons, and many internal organs of the body.
Computed tomography (CT)
Uses multiple X-ray images to produce detailed cross-sectional slices through the part of the body being investigated. Includes scans of the brain, chest, heart, abdomen, pelvis and spine. CT is especially useful in revealing detailed information about bone fractures in all body regions.
Uses high frequency soundwaves to create images of a range of body areas, including the abdomen, pelvis, breasts, heart and blood vessels, and muscles and tendons. Also useful in monitoring the progress of pregnancy.
The most common form of medical imaging. Useful for examining bones, joints, some spinal conditions, the teeth and jaws, and aids in the diagnosis of many chest and lung conditions.
A specific type of breast imaging that uses low-dose X-rays for the early detection of cancer and other breast disease.
Uses a small amount of radioisotope to pick up abnormalities via a special camera. Used to diagnose and treat disease, such as cancer, and can be used to assess all systems of the body.
Combines nuclear medicine and CT and is particularly useful in the diagnosis and monitoring of cancers.
Performed for various reasons, including pain management and screening for disease. Imaging equipment, such as ultrasound, CT or MRI is used to guide these procedures.
Bone mineral densitometry (BMD)
Uses dual energy X-ray to detail bone health and density. Also used for assessing a patient’s body mass index (BMI).