Are you injured or ill? And is your physician struggling to diagnose you? Then radiology might be for you. Radiology is the medical term for simple, non-invasive techniques that can help your doctor see inside your body- without having to cut you open using exploratory surgery!
Still, you might think that it sounds potentially dangerous. But there’s no need to worry: radiology is safe. So if you would like to know more about what radiology is, and why it’s useful, read on.
Simply put, radiology is a method of diagnosis used by doctors. Just like the physical exam relies on the doctor’s knowledge and hands-on experience, radiology relies on complicated technology to take pictures of the inside of your body. This gives radiology a number of advantages over other methods of diagnosis, which we will explore later on.
Radiologists use a number of methods to do what they do. There are a few different systems used in radiology, many of which you will already have heard of. In no particular order, here are the most popular:
- X-Rays, which use radiation to see past the skin and into the body
- Ultrasound, which uses sound frequencies higher than we can hear, which bounce back from the inside of the body and are picked up by machine
- MRI scanning, which uses a mixture of both sound waves and a magnetic field to create complex, 3D internal images
The very first radiological scans were made at the very end of the nineteenth century. The discoverer of X-rays received a Nobel Prize in Physics for his work, in 1901. Since then, the field has only become more complex- and more useful!
What Is Radiology Useful For?
Radiologists can use scans like X-Rays, Ultrasound and MRI to diagnose a variety of conditions. Each kind of scan is useful for different reasons; some are safer than others, some are more effective than others, and some are better for finding soft tissue issues. These are just a few different kinds of scan:
- X-Rays are the best way of finding fractures and other problems in the skeletal system. Because of the way radiation works, all you can see on X-Rays are the outlines of the skeleton.
- MRI scans can detect soft tissue problems such as tumors, strokes and other brain issues. They therefore pick up on problems that X-Rays cannot.
- Ultrasound is an ultra-safe method of scanning. It is especially useful for ‘live’ scans’, i.e. seeing the results of a scan in real time. This is why it is the method of choice for viewing babies in the womb.
Which scan you go through depends on your condition. If your physician suspects that you have a brain tumor, they will send you for an MRI scan. If they are trying to assess the damage of a car accident, they may use an X-Ray instead. You can discuss all of this with your physician if necessary, and they can explain their reasoning behind sending you for a scan.
What’s The Point Of Radiology?
As we mentioned above, radiology was invented to provide doctors with a method of diagnosing internal problems without having to use exploratory surgery. Radiology allows your physician to see inside your body without having to ‘open you up’ and take a look around. As you can imagine, this saves plenty of time and effort.
If you didn’t know, exploratory surgery is like normal surgery, but with the purpose of finding the problem rather than fixing it- although ‘fixing it’ usually follows soon after! But if it turned out that you didn’t have a problem, and the surgeon opened you up for no reason, then you’ll have to spend time recovering which you could easily avoid.
That’s why scientists invented radiology, especially because before the twentieth century, surgery was nowhere near as advanced as it is now; the likelihood that the patient would die under the knife was far greater. Of course, the risk is much lower today, but there is no risk at all from using scans as opposed to exploratory surgery.
Are There Radiology Experts?
Radiology is a complex subject. In fact, it’s so complex that it requires extensive training for any physician before they are able to properly use it. Physicians who put in years of years of training and practise into studying radiology are called ‘radiologists’.
Radiologists are just like other kinds of physician. They have to complete a bachelor’s degree, and then go to med school. But during med school, physicians have to start specialising in radiology. They do this by attending classes about first the basics, and then the more advanced aspects of the field. Then moving on from a classroom environment, medical students complete on-the-job training. This is a vital part of the learning process.
After graduating med school and completing their clinical rotations, medical students are then free to practise as physicians. However, that’s not the end of their training, especially for radiologists. As technology advances, it would be all too simple to be ‘left behind’. So it’s vital that radiologists also continue their training and learning, even as they run a successful practise. That’s how you, the public, can know that you receive nothing but the best possible care.
So, do you think that you need to see a radiologist? Ask your physician and talk with them about the pros and cons of our service. Or, if you would like some advice or some more information, why not give us a call? One of our friendly office staff would love to give you a helping hand. Call today!