Now that we’ve established that radiologists are highly trained physicians, it’s time to address the question of what radiologists do.  Because they operate more “behind the scenes,” patients are sometimes confused about the role of a radiologist.

Q: When I come in for my MRI, the radiologist is the one who is performing the test, right?
A: Wrong! As a general rule, the people who conduct the tests are radiologic technologists. Radiologic technologists have been specially trained to operate the equipment, and they operate under the supervision of radiologists, but radiology techs are not doctors.

Q: Then what is the role of the radiologist?
A: Radiologists diagnose disease and injury using medical imaging technologies — such as MRIs or CT scans. Just as your regular physician might diagnose your health problem by examining your body, radiologists are specially trained to interpret results of imaging studies and then convey this information to your referring physician. Radiologists also commonly work with referring physicians to help choose the best imaging technique for each patient’s specific issue.

Q:  So the radiologist works with my referring doctor?
A: Yes, your radiologist plays an important role in your health by acting as an expert consultant to your referring physician. Besides helping him or her choose the proper imaging exam, your radiologist will also interpret the resulting medical images and use those results to recommend further scans or treatments if necessary.