Imaging forms a key part of contemporary medicine. Clinical radiologists are doctors who help to diagnose and treat medical conditions by using a range of imaging techniques - most commonly ultrasound, X-rays, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Additionally, there is now greater emphasis on using other imaging techniques such as nuclear medicine (e.g. positron emission tomography (PET)) and molecular scans.
Although image interpretation forms a large part of most radiologists’ daily work, radiologists also help to manage patients in other ways, including taking biopsy samples, inserting chest and abdominal drains, as well as using real-time imaging to perform minimally invasive surgery (also known as interventional radiology) in both elective and emergency settings.
Nowadays, it is common for radiologists to specialise in a particular area of interest (e.g. chest, gastrointestinal, paediatric etc.) or focus on a particular imaging modality (e.g. nuclear/molecular medicine). However, some prefer to work as a general radiologist. A small number of radiologists choose to focus predominantly on interventional rather than diagnostic work.
Constant technological advances mean that CT and MRI are now able to produce increasingly detailed and accurate images of the body. In the case of CT imaging, the risk of harmful radiation to body tissues has also significantly reduced. However, despite these developments, there remains multiple aspects of diagnostic imaging that remain poorly understood. For example, in many instances, it can be difficult to correlate abnormal changes seen on imaging with the severity of the disease process in question. There is now considerable focus on finding imaging ‘biomarkers’ that can help radiologists more accurately quantify disease severity, thereby helping clinicians choose the most appropriate treatment.
At RADIANT, we believe that research and clinical work for radiologists should go hand-in-hand, and good research skills should be developed from the early stages of specialty training. Currently, various factors including high workload and time constraints mean that it can sometimes be difficult for radiology trainees to find opportunities to undertake research.
With the support of the Royal College of Radiologists, we hope to improve this by building a sustainable nationwide radiology trainee research collaborative that will leave a positive impact on radiology and help improve patient care.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions or comments.