06/29/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Radiology Myth Buster: Radiologist - Technologist or Physician?

Patients are often misinformed about radiologists and the role the radiologist has in their healthcare. Many patients think that the radiologist is the technologist that took their x-ray or MRI and are unaware that radiologists are medical doctors, they are physicians. Like all physicians , radiologists graduate from accredited medical schools and pass a state licensing examination. In addition, they also complete at least four years of post-graduate medical education in a diagnostic radiology residency. Most radiologists also continue their training with another year of Fellowship in a sub-specialty such as musculoskeletal imaging, neuroradiology, gastroenterology, etc.

At Hospital for Special Surgery, a hospital in New York specializing in orthopedics and rheumatologic conditions, the radiologists focus on diagnostic imaging using conventional Xray, MR, CT, Ultrasound and fluoroscopic procedures that optimize early detection of musculoskeletal conditions and diseases. Radiologist's also do the research to develop new cutting edge imaging techniques to optimize the documentation of various conditions and responses to treatment. The radiologists' interpretation of the imaging examination (the X-ray report) represents years of experience, which is shared with the treating physician. Radiologists do not order imaging examinations, but consult with the treating physician to determine the optimal imaging examination for the suspected condition and discuss the results of the study and next steps.

So the next time you need an imaging examination and go to an imaging center or hospital for an X-Ray, MRI, CT, Ultrasound examination or other imaging study remember to ask if a radiologist will plan and interpret your study. Also, ask if the radiologist has expertise in your specific clinical concern. The radiologist can be an unbiased, patient advocate for your healthcare needs.