Radiology Basics

box-services The field of radiology comprises many different techniques employed to non-invasively image the body. Some radiology tests require the use of x-rays and some do not. Most radiology tests or procedures are used to obtain an accurate, safe, and cost-effective diagnosis. Some procedures performed in interventional radiology provide non-surgical therapy. Rest assured that all tests used in radiology have been proven effective through extensive published research. There is no one “perfect” radiology examination that suffices in all medical situations. Often a timely and cost effective diagnosis requires the use of many different tests, the majority of which fall outside of radiology. Your referring provider can provide you with the best approach for your particular problem and, in consultation with our radiologists, can help decide which radiology examination will benefit you.

What is a Radiologist?

A radiologist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing disease and injury by using medical imaging techniques such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography/computed tomography fusion imaging (PET/CT) and ultrasound. Because some of these imaging techniques involve the use of radiation, adequate training in and understanding of radiation safety and protection is important. All board certified radiologists have graduated from an accredited medical school, passed a licensing examination, and completed a residency of at least 4 years of unique postgraduate medical education that includes radiation safety, radiation protection, and the appropriate performance and interpretation of quality radiological and medical imaging examinations and procedures. The majority of radiologists also complete a fellowship-1 to 2 additional years of specialized training in a particular subspecialty of radiology (breast imaging, interventional radiology, neuroradiology, etc). All training combined, a typical radiologist completes 13-15 years of post high school education.

What is the Radiologists Role in Health Care?

A radiologist acts as an expert consultant to your doctor by aiding him or her in choosing the proper radiology examination, interpreting the resulting medical images, and reporting the test results to your doctor in a timely manner to advance your care. Radiologists routinely correlate medical image findings with other examinations and tests, and recommend further examinations or treatments when needed by conferring with the referring doctor. The majority of radiology examinations are diagnostic in scope. However, radiologists do specialize in interventional procedures that utilize minimally invasive, image-guided tests that are both diagnostic and therapeutic. Finally, radiologists are responsible for directing radiology technologists (personnel who operate the imaging equipment) in the proper performance of quality exams. The following are some of the many tests and procedures that we employ on a day-to-day basis:

Your Radiologist Has the Right Training, Knowledge, and Experience

When your referring doctor tells you they have reviewed your imaging study, what they usually mean is that they have reviewed the radiology report or gone over the study with your radiologist. Radiologists are at the forefront of imaging technology, spearheading the development and implementation of CT, MRI, PET/CT as well as minimally invasive procedures such as endovascular treatment of aneurysms and tumors and percutaneous image guided biopsies and drainages. Certification by the American Board of Radiology is an indication of a high level of training and demonstrated excellence in the field. All radiologists in RMR are board certified by the American Board of Radiology.

What You Should Know About Quality and Safety in Medical Imaging

Radiological procedures such as CT, MRI, and PET are medically prescribed and should only be used by appropriately trained and certified physicians under medically necessary circumstances. Radiologists are medical doctors who have received at least 4 years of unique, specific, postmedical school training in radiation safety, the optimal performance of radiological procedures, and interpretation of medical images. Other medical specialties mandate far less imaging education, ranging from a few days to a maximum of 10 months. Use of medical imaging procedures by unqualified providers may needlessly expose you to radiation or radiation levels that could be unduly hazardous. It may also result in misdiagnosis or problems that are not diagnosed at all.

American College of Radiology (ACR) Accreditation

Insist that any facility providing your medical imaging care be accredited by the American College of Radiology. ACR accreditation ensures that the physicians supervising and interpreting your medical imaging meet stringent education and training standards. ACR accreditation also signifies that the imaging equipment is surveyed regularly by qualified medical physicists to ensure that it is functioning properly, and that the technologists administering the tests are certified.

Quality Standards for Medicare

The ACR recommends measures to ensure the highest quality diagnostic imaging services, while saving taxpayers urgently needed Medicare dollars. These measures are similar to those that have been used with great success by private payers.

Quality standards work. Federal standards already protect women undergoing mammography, and private payers are effectively using quality standards to control costs and prevent risks from poor quality and inappropriate MRI, CT, and PET scans. Medicare patients deserve the same protection and assurances as people who are insured privately when undergoing advanced medical imaging procedures. To find out how you can help establish quality standards to save taxpayers billions of dollars and improve Medicare patient care, please visit www.radisphereradiology.com.