Radiology technicians play a vital role in the health care industry and in the lives of their patients. Radiology technicians work with the radiologist to perform various kinds of diagnostic imagining examinations that are crucial for the detection of illness, injury, and other medical conditions. Their role is extremely important for obtaining a high-quality image that will be adequate for a correct diagnosis by the radiologist. Radiology technicians also provide essential support to make sure the patient is comfortable and at ease throughout the course of the procedure.
Radiology Technicians: A Closer Look
There are a wide variety of diagnostic medical imaging equipment that health care professionals utilize for diagnosing and treating certain medical conditions and abnormalities. Radiology technicians specialize in x-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. X-ray technology enables the radiologist to see straight through human tissue to the underlying bones, cavities, and organs with extraordinary clarity. Some modified x-ray procedures that radiology technicians perform may also be used to examine softer tissue areas, including the lungs, blood vessels, heart, or intestines. MRI scans are arguably the best method for seeing inside the body without going under the knife. Radiology technicians who perform MRI scans are able to produce high-quality images that will diagnose cancer, strokes, brain tumors, tendonitis, and multiple other conditions.Radiology technicians may also specialize in mammography, which uses low-dose x-rays to produce images of the breast to detect signs of cancer. Professionals who specialize in other types of diagnostic equipment include nuclear medicine technologists, diagnostic ultrasound technicians, and vascular technologists. Radiology technicians are often classified by their personal specializations and the equipment they mostly work with, such as CT technicians or MRI technicians. However, radiology technicians have the option of becoming certified in multiple specialties and working with all of this equipment.
Day in the Life of a Radiology Technician
Like many other health care providers, radiology technicians work in a range of different facilities that offer patients medical diagnostic imaging procedures. The largest percentage of radiology technicians are employed in state, local, or private hospitals. Others work in physician offices, medical diagnostic laboratories, outpatient treatment care centers, and for the federal government. While the job descriptions for radiology technicians tend to vary across the different specialties and work settings, there are many overlapping duties that all technicians are responsible for. Some of the general radiology technician job duties include:
• Adjust, maintain, and sterilize the medical diagnostic imaging equipment, as well as the room in which the testing takes place.
• Follow exact orders from physicians on which areas of the body to image and with what type of equipment.
• Explain the procedure to patients prior to beginning, including answering questions and calming any concerns to ensure their comfort.
• Instruct patients to remove garments or jewelry that will interfere with the procedure.
• Prepare patients for procedures by providing them with a drink that will allow soft tissue to be clearly seen on the images if necessary.
• Place the patient and equipment in the optimal location to receive the best image quality to ensure correct diagnosis by the radiologist.
• Operate the diagnostic imaging equipment to take the images, while being certain that images are captured from every angle needed to be assessed.
• Communicate with the radiologist, physician, and other members of the health care team to determine whether more images need to be taken.
• Maintain detailed records of procedures the patient received, diagnosis, and other medical notes that are of concern for proper treatment.
Since radiology is potentially harmful when used incorrectly, another major part of the radiology technician’s job description is to prevent unnecessary exposure to radiation and protect the safety of the patient. They use protective devices, such as lead shields, to limit exposure to the area being imaged and ensure that there will be no adverse side effects on the patient. Radiology technicians must have a thorough knowledge of the strict protocols on the amount of radiation supplied to patients. In addition, they must have a deep understanding of anatomy and physiology, since different organs and tissues of the body are more sensitive to radiation. More than just responsible for producing quality images, radiology technicians are vital for direct patient care and safety.