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What is Radiologic Technology?
Radiography involves the production of images of internal organs and structures by passing a small, highly controlled amount of radiation through the human body, and capturing the resulting image on an image recording device. When x-rays penetrate the body, they are absorbed in varying amounts by different parts of the anatomy. Bones, for example, will absorb much of the radiation and, therefore, appear white or light gray on the image, whereas soft tissue absorbs little radiation and appears dark.
Contrast agents are sometimes used to enhance certain organs and structures that otherwise are not visualized on a radiographic image. The exposed imaging plate is either placed in an automatic film processor or is digitally captured and stored on a computer.
The field of radiological technology also includes therapeutic procedures, often referred to as interventional radiology. Interventional Radiology is used in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of injury and disease.
Some Examples of Radiographic Imaging:
- Plain film radiography is used to detect bone fractures and pathological processes, locate foreign objects in the body, and demonstrate the relationship between bone and soft tissue.
- Mammography produces radiographic images of the breast to detect cancer in its earliest stages.
- Angiography uses contrast agents to examine the heart and blood vessels.
- Fluoroscopy produces real-time images that show movement of material (contrast agents) through blood vessels or ducts; fluoroscopy is also used in orthopedic procedures, such as hip and knee surgery, to enable the surgeon to visualize the bony anatomy of interest in relation to surgical devices/hardware.
- Computerized Tomography produces cross-sectional, 3-dimensional images of the body
What does a Radiological Technologist (radiographers) do?
- Radiological Technologists play an integral role in the detection of injury and disease; they are the medical personnel who perform diagnostic imaging examinations, including mammography and computerized tomography.
- Radiation Technologists are detail-oriented and enjoy applying their knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and mathematics; Radiological Technologists are responsible for accurately positioning patients and ensuring that a quality diagnostic image is produced.
- Radiological Technologists work closely with patients, doctors, and other health professionals as part of the interdisciplinary health care team.
- Radiological Technologists use cutting-edge medical imaging technology and advanced computer systems to produce and enhance radiographic images.
Why become a Radiological Technologist?
- Radiological technology offers many areas of specialization
- Mammography (breast imaging)
- Computed tomography (CT)
- Diagnostic visceral and peripheral angiography with interventional radiology
- Electronic image management (PACS)
- Neuro-radiology or trauma radiography
- Radiological Technologists are vital members of the inter-professional health care team devoted to patient care. Technologists must have the technical expertise to operate sophisticated instruments, but must also have the humanistic skills necessary to communicate with patients, problem-solve, and work well with other members of the health care team.
Radiological technology uses advanced computerized equipment to perform complex anatomical scans, many in real-time!
Educated in anatomy and physiology, patient positioning, equipment protocols, radiation safety and protection, and fundamental patient care skills, Radiological Technologists often specialize in a particular area of diagnostic imaging. They work in a variety of environments, including:
- Practicing and providing care to patients in hospitals and private clinics
- Contributing to scientific advances within the profession by performing research studies
- Regulating radiation safety practices and working for government and other agencies
- Advancing into administrative and management positions
- Digital imaging systems administration
- Specializing in sales or new product development with commercial companies
- Educating future professionals in the medical radiation sciences