A radiologist specializes in radiology, the field of medical study that places emphasis on medical imaging to diagnose and treat diseases. A plethora of different medical imaging techniques are available to patients today, many of which fall within the expertise of trained radiologists. Such technological advances include x-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, PET scan, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and nuclear medicine. Other medical specialists, including gastroenterologists, oncologists and family doctors, will also order scans or images from a radiologist during the process of treating or diagnosing a patient.
In the United States today, more and more people are training to become radiologists. Applicants to residency positions in radiology typically graduate from medical school at the top of their class. Radiologists complete a minimum of 13 years of formal schooling and practical application, which includes 4 years at a college or university, 4 years at medical school, 1 or more years at an internship and 4 years in residency. Some radiologists choose to pursue fellowships for a couple of years afterward, as well, for further practice and training in a specialized branch of radiology. Examples of specialities that may be pursued by a radiologist in fellowship include: Abdominal Imaging, Thoracic Imaging, Cross-Sectional Imaging, Breast/Women’s Imaging, Interventional Radiology and Emergency Radiology. There are many other branches.
Schooling for radiologists require passing rigorous tests to prove their expert knowledge on all topics relating to the science of and technology of the common treatment methods listed above (x-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, etc.). Upon completion, some radiologists are able to pass tests required to be certified by prestigious boards such as the American Board of radiology (ABR), the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) and the American Osteopathic Board of Radiology (AOBR). Most of these tests have a computer-based section and an oral section. There are strict rules for retaking the exam if failed.
Within the field of gastroenterology, radiological imaging technique is often used to screen for cancer or other abnormalities located in the colorectal region of the body. The radiology techniques are generally less invasive and thus an appealing alternative to traditional colonoscopy—although the results are not always as accurate.
Please contact a specialist today to find out your options to screen for colon cancer with virtual colonoscopy, a technique that combines traditional colonoscopy methods with modern CT scanning methods, or barium enema x-ray, which using high contrast barium solutions and x-ray technology to screen for the colon.
Reviewed 12/12/2011 by David M. Nolan, M.D.
Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, 2011
Currently a Fellow of Gastroenterology, at UCI 2011-2014