The diagnostic radiologist is really your doctor’s doctor. He or she uses a wide variety of imaging tools to help your physician find out what is wrong with you. Diagnostic radiologists, whether in a group or solo practice, in a freestanding imaging center or a hospital, play the important role of consultant for your health care team. Diagnostic radiologists must complete four years of undergraduate studies, four years of medical school, a year of internship and four years of residency training at hospitals.
You very likely have heard about many of the imaging tests that radiologists use. Some of these are mammography, diagnostic ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT), barium enema and fluoroscopy. You may even have had one of these diagnostic radiology exams.
You might not be aware that radiologists interpret the findings of these exams, although the tests may be performed by a technologist under the supervision of the radiologist. Radiologists, after medical school, must go through many years of special training on how to read x-rays and interpret what the other imaging tests show.
No other doctors have as much special training in reading imaging studies as do radiologists. More than 90 percent of all doctors practicing as radiologists are board certified. This represents one of the highest percentages of all specialties recognized by the American Medical Association.
In addition to radiologists specializing in certain types of imaging, some of these doctors treat diseases and ailments; they are called interventional radiologists.
Overall, radiologists play an important role in the delivery of health care in the United States and throughout the world. Imaging tests detect diseases at earlier, more treatable stages, saving lives. In addition, accurate imaging tests are cost-effective because they can eliminate the need for further tests.