Radiology and medical imaging

Medical radiology and imaging is an important component of most medical decisions that affect patient care. A medical radiology and imaging specialist works with all clinical specialties to achieve the most accurate diagnosis. Radiology can help diagnose diseases such as tuberculosis and cancers.

Radiologists are doctors who specialise in diagnosing and treating injuries and diseases using medical imaging (radiology) procedures such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), and ultrasound. Radiology and medical imaging specialists can also opt for special training in oncological radiology, paediatric radiology or interventional radiology. 


Imaging investigations are divided into several categories, namely:

♦X-rays: the use of X-rays to evaluate the skeletal system, chest or abdomen.

♦ Computed tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the inside of the body. Also called a CAT scan, CT is a real help in bone fractures, head trauma, tumours, cancer monitoring, especially when additional information is desired.

♦ Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) where magnetic fields and radio waves are used with computer processing to build a series of cross-sectional images. MRI images provide additional information about tissues and organs that often cannot be obtained using other techniques.

♦ Ultrasound: The use of sound waves to make moving images on a monitor, common examples are ultrasounds during pregnancy and ultrasound images of the heart, which are called echocardiograms.

♦ Mammograms: using X-rays fed, aimed and positioned specifically for breast tissue.

♦ DEXA scan – osteodensitometry consists of using a special type of X-ray that measures bone mineral density. DEXA stands for “dual energy X-ray absorptiometry”. It is also sometimes called a bone density scan or bone densitometry scan. DEXA scans are often used to diagnose osteoporosis. It is a painless investigation and more effective than normal X-rays in identifying low bone mineral density.

♦ Interventional radiology is a subspecialty and consists of using imaging guidance for minimally invasive procedures to treat patients without surgery.