Medical Imaging (Diagnostic Radiography)

Diagnostic Radiographers fulfil an essential role in the modern healthcare setting, using their skills and knowledge to produce detailed, high-quality anatomical and physiological images of what is happening within the human body. These images are used to assist in the diagnosis of injury and disease thereby ensuring that prompt, effective treatment is given.

The world of radiography and the role of the radiographer is constantly changing and developing. The equipment used undergoes continual development and so radiographers need to be able to keep up to date with the latest technological advances. The role of the radiographer has expanded to include reporting on the images produced, providing a written interpretation of any abnormalities seen, and administering contrast agents (a type of dye) by means of an intravenous injection. A new career pathway for radiographers was introduced following a government-led initiative, Agenda for Change. This new pathway introduced Advanced Practitioner and Consultant Radiographer roles to reward clinical expertise and knowledge.

Diagnostic radiographers work in many different branches of Medical Imaging including:

Projection radiography

Radiography is the production of a ‘radiograph’ using x-rays. It encompasses a wide range of techniques used throughout the hospital. A radiographer uses their skills and knowledge to modify standard techniques to accommodate the variety of patients encountered, for example, in Accident and Emergency, in theatre and on the wards, as well as the Radiology Department.

Fluoroscopy

Fluoroscopy is an x-ray technique used to produce a combination of dynamic (moving) and static images. It is usually used in combination with a contrast agent (dye) that has been introduced into the body in order to clearly delineate certain structures such as the gastrointestinal tract or blood vessels.

Computed Tomography (CT)

This technique uses x-rays in conjunction with a specialised computer to produce cross-sectional images of the body. Modern computers enable the manipulation of the data recorded by the scanner, to allow the images to be reformatted in other planes or viewed as a three-dimensional image.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound uses high frequency sound to look at certain structures within the body. It is most commonly associated with monitoring the development of the embryo throughout pregnancy but it is also used to look at other structures such as the heart, organs within the abdomen and pelvis, and to evaluate blood flow in vessels.

Nuclear Medicine (Radioisotope Imaging)

This technique uses gamma-rays rather than x-rays. The substance that produces the gamma-rays is called a ‘radiopharmaceutical’: a radioactive isotope which is usually bound to another pharmaceutical agent and then introduced into the body. The type of pharmaceutical agent used determines which organs in the body will take up the radiopharmaceutical. Taking images that demonstrate how the radiopharmaceutical has been taken up means that the function of the organ can be assessed. This technique can be used on many different body systems including the renal system, bone and the heart.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

This method requires the patient to lie inside a very strong magnet and utilises the magnetic properties of the individual hydrogen atoms within the body. MRI is used to produce detailed images of soft tissue structures within the body including the brain, spine, joints and the abdominal-pelvic organs.

BSc Medical Imaging (Diagnostic Radiography) is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council.