A radiology technician is also known by other names, such as radiology technologist or radiographer. This medical professional applies quantities of ionizing radiation or radioactive materials to patients in order to reduce or completely deplete tumor and cancer cells, as well as to create medical images of the human anatomy to help radiologists and other doctors diagnose and treat illness and injury. They work in hospitals, clinics, medical laboratories, nursing homes, and in private practices.
A radiology technician as an allied professional can work in different designations at different medical facilities, such as respiratory therapist, physical therapist, surgical technologist, nurse, laboratory technologist, radiological technologist, and others. A radiology technologist uses their expertise and understanding of physics, anatomy, physiology, and pathology to assess the patient, develop optimal radiographic techniques, and evaluate resulting radiographic images to conclude if other procedures are required. A radiology technician also works in the following specialties:
- Diagnostic Radiography: Under this branch, examination of internal organs, bones, cavities, and foreign objects is done. It also includes cardiovascular imaging and interventional radiography.
- Sonography: Due to its high frequency ultrasound and versatility, it is used in obstetrics, necology, abdominal, pediatrics, cardiac, vascular, and musculo-skeletal regions.
- Fluoroscopy: It is live motion radiography used for imaging the digestive systems; monitor the administration of contrast agents to highlight vessels and organs or to help position devices within the body like pacemakers, guidewires, stents etc.
- CT (Computed tomography): This shows up cross-sectional views (slices) of the body; and can also reconstruct additional images from those taken to provide more information in either 2 or 3D.
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): This develops a 2-D or 3-D map of different tissue types within the body.
- Nuclear medicine: This technology employs radioactive tracers that can be administered to test how a body organ functions like kidneys or heart. Certain radioisotopes can also be used to types of cancer like thyroid cancer.
- Radiotherapy: This uses radiation to shrink, and sometimes eradicate, cancerous cells/growths in and on the body.
- Mammography: It is used for imaging of the breast tissues.
Education requirements differ worldwide because of common references. Formal training programs in radiography range in length from eighteen months to four years and leads to certificate, an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree. Prior to this profession’s liberalization program towards a mandatory four-year bachelor’s degree, one to two-year certificate or associate degree programs are most prevalent in, Canada and the United States. Since these professionals use ionizing radiation, which is potentially harmful to the living cells, most countries have strict regulations, certifications and registration process regarding the practice of this profession.
The educational curriculum conforms in different countries. Usually during their formal education they must learn human anatomy and physiology, general and nuclear physics, mathematics, radiation physics, plane and spherical trigonometry, electromagnetism, radiopharmacology, pathology, biology, biostatistics, logic, philosophy, research, genetics, nursing procedures, medical imaging science and diagnosis, radiologic instrumentation, radio diagnosis, emergency medical procedures, medical imaging techniques, general psychology, computer programming, patient care and management, medical ethics and general chemistry.