A person may feel somewhat uncomfortable and potentially even scared when a primary care physician calls on the support of a radiologist. However, understanding the role of a radiologist in the wider health care landscape can help patients recognize exactly why a radiologist may be needed. Simply put, radiologists have studied medical imaging technology, including X rays, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), extensively. Using these various techniques, a radiologist can both diagnose and treat a wide array of diseases and physical injuries. A radiologist may be sought out to either confirm or discover a patient's problem.
Radiologists can interact with a patient in several ways. For instance, an individual who has damaged his or her ankle during a game of soccer can be taken directly to a radiologist in order to determine whether the ankle has been sprained or broken. In other cases, a family physician may refer a patient to a nearby hospital’s radiology department in order to further examine potential causes of illness or pain. Any other medical professional who engages in medical imaging diagnostics may compare their analysis of a specific image with a radiologist’s. In other words, a radiologist can be used at virtually any point in the health care process and may be tasked with treating conditions as diverse as chronic disease and a sprained finger.