Radiology 101: Types of Radiology

Radiology is a large branch of medical science, and within radiology there are also specializations and subcategories that deal with specific diagnoses, treatments, and analysis of various areas of the human body.

As you decide which specialization within radiology to pursue as your career path, you should also know the different subcategories within radiology in order to differentiate them and make a clear, informed choice of what you would like to do.

Choosing Your Expertise

Radiology 101: Types of Radiology - BecomeaRadiologist.org

During your first few years in medical school, you would have a more detailed understanding of the human body in general, which would also give you a better idea of what to expect later on.

While training to become a radiologist would usually entail learning about radiology’s various branches as a whole (much like any other medical science), radiology practitioners would train for one or more of these specific branches or areas of study for their practice:

  • Breast Imaging. This area of radiology deals specifically with the imaging and diagnosis of various breast diseases or conditions. Procedures that fall under breast imaging include:

Mammography – a process that uses low-level X-rays to diagnose and screen the breast area. A mammography is used to detect breast cancer and analysis of treatment strategy.

Breast MRI – A contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast area is used as a more detailed alternative to a mammography.

  • Cardiovascular Radiology. This subcategory refers to testing and diagnosis of the heart and blood vessels, checking for various diseases and conditions that usually show up in these areas ( arteries, veins, lymphatics, etc.). X-ray tests, CT or CAT scans, ultrasound tests, or MRI scans area usually utilized in cardiovascular radiology.

  • Chest Radiology. For the diagnotic imaging and diagnosis of different diseases of the heart, lungs, and other organs in the chest area, chest radiology is the specialization. This category of radiology also utilizes procedures such as lung biopsy and chest fluid drainage.

  • Emergency Radiology. This branch of radiology refers to the diagnostic imaging and diagnosis of trauma and non-traumatic emergency situations.

  • Gastrointestinal Radiology. Gastrointestinal or GI radiology deals with the gastrointestinal or digestive tract and the abdomen. Diagnosis and treatment procedures under GI radiology include:

Flouroscopy – This is the real-time use of X-rays to view images inside the patient’s body using a fluoroscope.

Fluid and Abscess Drainage – Radiation can be used to drain excess fluid or abscess build-up in the patient’s gastrointestinal or digestive tract.

  • Genitourinary Radiology. This specialization within radiology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions that occur in the reproductive and urinary tracts. Digital imaging techniques used in genitourinary radiology include x-ray, MRI, CT or CAT scans, and MRIs, while treatment procedures usually include kidney stone removal, uterine fibroid removal, or biopsy.

  • Head and Neck Radiology. Head and neck diseases are diagnosed and treated using a variety of techniques specific to head and neck radiology.

  • Musculoskeletal Radiology. The diagnostic imaging and diagnosis of medical conditions of the body’s muscles and the skeleton is referred to as musculoskeletal radiology.

  • Neuroradiology. A more detailed and intricate diagnostic imaging and treatment procedure for the head, neck and spine, as well as the brain and the nervous system, is referred to as neuroradiology. CT or CAT scans, MRI, and ultrasound are the usual imaging techniques used here.

  • Nuclear Radiology. This category of radiology diagnoses and treats patients that have been exposed to or have trace doses of radioactive compounds. For imaging, techniques such as gamma imaging, PET, and PET/CT are used. Nuclear radiology encompasses imaging of the heart, skeletal system, liver, spleen, lungs, kidney, thyroid or parathyroid glands, and most other areas and organs of the body.

  • Pediatric Radiology. This branch of radiology is geared specifically towards the diagnostic imaging and treatment of children’s diseases.

  • Radiation Oncology. This is the category of radiology that seeks to treat various forms of cancer in the body. Radiation therapy is delivered to the body through an outside X-ray source or injected to the area of the body. Because this area of radiology is more advanced, it is also among the highest-paying and in-demand types of radiology.