Radiology imaging allows us to non-invasively diagnose a whole array of conditions from fractures to dementia.1 It's a field that is constantly developing and evolving.
The risks associated with diagnostic radiology are small, especially compared against the benefits of quick and effective diagnosis.2
In the lead up to a radiology procedure, some patients are daunted by the equipment or the idea of the use of radiation in diagnostic medical imaging. Talk to your primary physician and your radiologist about any concerns you may have both before and on the day of your procedure. They can talk you through what to expect and put your mind at ease.3
After the scan, awaiting diagnosis can be stressful, so good communication between the radiologist, primary care physician, and patient is also paramount.
What does a radiologist do?
Radiologists consult with your referring physician (typically your primary care physician) as to which scan is most appropriate to help diagnose your condition. They then read and interpret the resulting images, and in certain instances, cross-reference them with other results to give an effective diagnosis. Radiologists are also trained in the treatment of diseases using radiation (radiation oncology).4
Diagnostic medical imaging includes:
- X ray
- Nuclear medicine 5
The techniques are generally fast, effective, and painless — with the exception of the minimal pain imposed at the site of injection in the instance of nuclear medicine.
- MRI scans and diagnostic ultrasound scans do not use any ionizing radiation, and are not known to cause any tissue damage.6
- X rays, CT scans, and nuclear medicine all use minimal amounts of ionizing radiation. There is a link between radiation and DNA mutation (which could cause cancer), so radiologists are trained in the safe and effective use of these techniques.7
- The dose of radiation received in a scan is measured in millisieverts (mSv). The current advice from the American College of Radiology is to limit lifetime diagnostic radiation exposure to 100 mSv — the equivalent of 10,000 chest x rays or 25 chest CT scans.8
If you suffer from claustrophobia, the machinery used in MRI and CT scans can cause anxiety. There are some things you can do to minimize the effect of claustrophobia on the procedure.
- Make sure you communicate your phobia to your primary physician before your radiology appointment. They can talk you through the procedure step by step, so you know what to expect.
- Ask if you are able to see the equipment in advance of the scan. Familiarizing yourself with the machine can help in reducing anticipatory anxiety. Some radiologic technologists (those who operate the equipment) might be prepared to turn on the equipment or allow you to lie down.
- Ask if you can listen to music during the procedure for distraction.
- Depending on your medical history and the severity of your phobia, you may also be prescribed a mild tranquilizer for the procedure.9
Vascular ultrasound uses sound waves to evaluate the circulatory system. It can monitor blood flow, and detect blockages and blood clots in the veins and arteries. Like all types of ultrasound, it is painless and does not involve ionizing radiation. 10
Children need specialized care. There are many conditions that are only seen in infants as the body is growing. Children are also more sensitive to radiation. So, special considerations need to be made to the long-lasting potential impact of imaging.11 Our pediatric radiologists work closely with patients, their families, and other physicians involved in the treatment plan.
Here at BronxDocs
Our focus is on compassionate, patient-centered care. From the moment you are referred to us, you receive the kind of individualized attention that ensures your convenience, comfort, and peace of mind.
BronxDocs' highly experienced, board-certified radiologists have expertise in a full spectrum of diagnostic procedures.
All of our physicians communicate through our electronic system. All medical records and images are digitized so that all physicians can instantly refer to them at any location, ensuring fast and accurate diagnoses, and, as a result, faster access to treatment. Our radiologists and primary care physicians work closely to coordinate your care, tailored to your exact needs.
Our diagnostic imaging center is equipped with state-of-the-art and innovative technologies to ensure your safety and quality of care. Our Nuclear Medicine department is accredited by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC), and our ultrasound departments are each accredited by the IAC.
7. Harvard Health Publishing. (2010)