The Role of a Radiologist

The Role of a Radiologist | Dr. Ali Ghahary

As a family physician, it’s not uncommon for Dr. Ali Ghahary to refer patients for different types of tests. Blood work, for example, is something that Dr. Ghahary often requests patients have done as a part of their yearly examination to ensure that their cholesterol levels are where they should be, as well as to check for and rule out other common health conditions such as thyroid disease. Blood testing can also detect more serious health issues, too, such as cancer. In addition to having blood tests done, medical screening is also done on patients of a certain age. For example, it’s recommended that men in their 50’s should go for regular prostate cancer screening, while women between the ages of 50 and 69 should have breast cancer screening done every 2 years. Seniors should also have certain preventive testing done for things like colorectal cancer, lung cancer, and high blood pressure.

While blood work is commonly done by nurses, things like x-rays and cancer screening is typically done by someone known as a radiologist. A radiologist is an important part of the healthcare system as they help in the diagnosing of certain illnesses and injury, as well as aiding your physician in determining which examination is best suited for you. For example, would the patient benefit from an X-ray or will they need to have a more in-depth scan such as an MRI or CT scan.

A radiologist is much more than someone who simply takes a few photos, however. They are also able to determine what those photos show through careful examination and can also compare other examinations and tests to help them with their findings. In addition, they can also help treat diseases through radiation therapy – a form of cancer treatment that is often done before, during or after chemotherapy depending on the diagnosis and the stage that the cancer is in. During certain medical imaging procedures, the patient may either be asked to drink a solution or may require a dye that is injected into them intravenously. These dyes and solutions help give the radiologist a better view of certain parts of the body that may not necessarily show up as well as they would without dye or solution being present in the patient’s body. Think of it as a magnifying glass, in a way. The clearer the picture is, the easier it will be for the radiologist to provide your physician with an accurate report and diagnosis.

In order to become a radiologist, one has to graduate from an accredited school and complete a postgraduate residency, which usually lasts for approximately 4 years in the United States and Canada. During the learning and residency processes, a radiologist will learn about things like radiation safety, radiation protection, how radiation can affect the human body (for example, having frequent CT scans can increase the risk of cancer), how medical imaging tests are performed, and how to accurately read the scans.

For more information on the role of a radiologist, the important role they play in patient care, as well as education, visit the Canadian Association of Radiologists website at CAR.ca.

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