Radiologists are medical doctors that specialize in diagnosing and treating injuries and diseases using medical imaging (radiology) procedures (exams/tests) such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography (PET) and ultrasound. 

Clinical radiologists use images to diagnose, treat and manage medical conditions and diseases.

Nature of the work

Imaging is at the heart of modern medicine and is an essential part of many treatments. The clinical radiologist plays a vital role in swift and accurate diagnosis of many conditions.  The job involves problem solving – examining the anatomy, pathology, clinical history and previous imaging for the patient. Selecting the appropriate techniques for diagnosis and minimising radiation exposure are all part of the role.

Clinical oncologists (rather than radiologists) use radiotherapy to treat tumours .

Clinical radiologists use various imaging techniques including:

  • X-Ray
  • Ultrasound
  • Computed tomography (CT) including multislice scanning
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Positron emission tomography coupled with CT or MRI (PET-CT or PET-MRI) – enabling enhanced 3D images
  • Fluoroscopy – using real-time x-ray imaging to show internal structures of the body
  • Molecular imaging – CT perfusion, dual-energy CT, optical imaging
  • Nuclear medicine techniques

Diagnostic radiologists, through extensive clinical work and related research, may also specialize in these radiology subspecialties:

  • Breast imaging (mammograms)
  • Cardiovascular radiology (heart and circulatory system)
  • Chest radiology (heart and lungs)
  • Emergency radiology
  • Gastrointestinal radiology (stomach, intestines and abdomen)
  • Genitourinary radiology (reproductive and urinary systems)
  • Head and neck radiology
  • Musculoskeletal radiology (muscles and skeleton)
  • Neuroradiology (brain and nervous system; head, neck and spine)
  • Pediatric radiology (imaging of children)