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Health Care Providers: Radiologists

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What Is Radiology?

Radiology (ray-dee-OL-uh-jee), or medical imaging, allows doctors to “see” the bones and organs.

What Is a Radiologist?

A radiologist (ray-dee-OL-uh-jist) is a doctor who views, analyzes, and interprets medical images. They consult with the patient's primary doctor or specialist doctor about their findings.

Why Would Someone Need One?

Radiologists are experts in such medical imaging procedures as:

  • bone densitometry (to measure bone density)
  • cardiac imaging (studies of the heart)
  • CAT or CT (computed axial tomography) scans
  • (like a moving X-ray)
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • musculoskeletal X-rays and imaging (CT, MRI, and ultrasound) to look at muscles, bones, and joints
  • neuroradiology (imaging tests to look at the brain, head, skull, or spine)
  • nuclear medicine (a small amount of a radioactive element, often delivered through an IV, gives off energy that can be detected by scanners and provide high-resolution images)
  • ultrasounds
  • X-rays

What Is Their Training?

A radiologist's training usually includes:

  • 4 years of pre-medical education at a college or university
  • 4 years of medical school — a medical degree (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree
  • 1 year of training in internal medicine or surgery (an internship)
  • 4 years of training in a radiology program (a residency)

After medical school, internship, and residency, they may also do a fellowship in a subspecialty such as pediatric radiology, musculoskeletal radiology, interventional radiology, or radiation oncology.

Good to Know

If someone gets a lot of X-rays, the radiation can lead to certain medical problems. That’s why radiologists only do tests using X-rays when they're absolutely needed. They use the test that gives the least amount of radiation for the best results.

Date reviewed: September 2022