Radiology is the medical discipline that uses medical imaging to diagnose and treat diseases within the bodies of animals, including humans.

A variety of imaging techniques such as X-ray radiography, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine including positron emission tomography (PET), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are used to diagnose or treat diseases. Interventional radiology is the performance of usually minimally invasive medical procedures with the guidance of imaging technologies such as those mentioned above.

The modern practice of radiology involves several different healthcare professions working as a team. The radiologist is a medical doctor who has completed the appropriate post-graduate training and interprets medical images, communicates these findings to other physicians by means of a report or verbally, and uses imaging to perform minimally invasive medical procedures.[1] The nurse is involved in the care of patients before and after imaging or procedures, including administration of medications, monitoring of vital signs and monitoring of sedated patients.[2] The radiographer, also known as a “radiologic technologist” in some countries such as the United States and Canada, is a specially trained healthcare professional that uses sophisticated technology and positioning techniques to produce medical images for the radiologist to interpret. Depending on the individual’s training and country of practice, the radiographer may specialize in one of the above-mentioned imaging modalities or have expanded roles in image reporting.[3]

 

Interventional radiology (IR or sometimes VIR for vascular and interventional radiology) is a subspecialty of radiology in which minimally invasive procedures are performed using image guidance. Some of these procedures are done for purely diagnostic purposes (e.g., angiogram), while others are done for treatment purposes (e.g., angioplasty).

The basic concept behind interventional radiology is to diagnose or treat pathologies, with the most minimally invasive technique possible. Minimally invasive procedures are currently performed more than ever before. These procedures are often performed with the patient fully awake, with little or no sedation required. Interventional radiologists and interventional radiographers[8] diagnose and treat several disorders, including peripheral vascular disease, renal artery stenosis, inferior vena cava filter placement, gastrostomy tube placements, biliary stents and hepatic interventions. Radiographic images, fluoroscopy, and ultrasound modalities are used for guidance, and the primary instruments used during the procedure are specialized needles and catheters. The images provide maps that allow the clinician to guide these instruments through the body to the areas containing disease. By minimizing the physical trauma to the patient, peripheral interventions can reduce infection rates and recovery times, as well as hospital stays. To be a trained interventionalist in the United States, an individual completes a five-year residency in radiology and a one- or two-year fellowship in IR.[9]

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