Do you need to schedule a screening with a radiologist? If you’re like millions of other people around the world, you just might. Radiologists are primarily responsible for interpreting medical images, but they can also play more active roles in treating, diagnosing, and detecting diseases. Whether it’s analyzing a scan or blasting cancer cells, radiologists provide all kinds of services to patients.
Medical Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI machines use enormous magnets to take pictures of the human body’s inside and are perfect for visualizing brain and muscle. This, of course, makes an MRI the first defense line against terrible diseases like brain cancer, liposarcoma, and multiple sclerosis. These scans can take a while to complete. Because MRI machines generate strong magnetic fields, patients with metal in their bodies get advised to use other imaging techniques instead.
Sometimes, radiologists inject patients with a harmless liquid metal called gadolinium before a scan. Doing so pictures abnormalities in the MRI.
Computed Tomography (CT)
Unlike an MRI, and much like an X-ray, a CT scan involves the use of radiation. A CT scan involves many X-rays all at once. The dose of radiation is much larger than an X-ray and depends significantly on the body part getting scanned.
One of the most significant advantages of the CT scan is its speed, which is why many emergency departments worldwide have a CT scanner located nearby. Patients with severe trauma, brain bleeds, or acute abdomen usually get CT scans.
Ultrasound uses sound waves to image body parts, so it is excellent for picturing subcutaneous masses and internal organs. Unlike the other imaging techniques described so far, ultrasound quality depends significantly on the technician’s skill. That’s why, in some cases, you’ll find radiologists or doctors performing these scans themselves.
The images captured by ultrasound are visible live to both patient and doctor, making it incredibly useful for several different applications. Perhaps the best-known use of ultrasound is to image a pregnant woman’s uterus, where parents can watch their unborn baby move right before their eyes.
This life-saving procedure uses X-rays to visualize a patient’s arteries while work is done on them, eventually leading to a stent getting placed. This is sometimes a scheduled procedure but often must be done to treat an emergency, like a heart attack or a stroke. A radiologist usually performs it.
Patients with chronic pain know how terrible it can be. That’s why radiologists, using advanced techniques, treat long-lasting pain with radiofrequency ablation. By targeting the nerves responsible for the pain, patients often get relief for their previously intractable pain.
Prostate Artery Embolization (PAE)
Traditional prostate surgery isn’t an option for every patient with an enlarged prostate. Those who can’t get the procedure sometimes turn to radiologists instead. This technique first maps out the blood that’s flowing into a patient’s prostate. It then explicitly limits blood flow to the prostate by injecting blockers through a catheter. Without blood flow, a patient’s prostate should slowly shrink.
Believe it or not, that’s just scratching the surface of what a radiologist can do for you. From detecting breast cancer to preventing heart attacks, radiologists are involved in patient care from nearly every walk of life. If there’s any way they can help you, what are you waiting for? Reach out to your primary care doctor and find a radiologist today.