Clinical Radiologist

Clinical radiologists are highly trained specialist medical doctors. They have undertaken specific postgraduate training in performing and interpreting diagnostic imaging tests and interventional procedures or treatments.

Clinical radiologists work with technologically advanced X-ray, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment. They order medical imaging tests of the inside of the body which they then examine and interpret to diagnose your medical condition and monitor progress.

You will probably be referred for a medical imaging test by your doctor or a referring specialist. The role of the clinical radiologist is to help the doctor or specialist treat their patients by providing expert knowledge of the body.

Some clinical radiologists work in subspecialties such as breast imaging (mammography), interventional radiology (using radiology for diagnosis and as a medical treatment), musculoskeletal imaging, cardiac (heart) imaging, and paediatric (children’s) imaging.

After you have had a radiology test or procedure the clinical radiologist writes a report on the results which is sent to the referring doctor.

There are two different kinds of clinical radiologists:

  1. Diagnostic radiologists perform and interpret a range of medical images, including X-rays, CT (computed tomography) scans, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans and ultrasound scans, as well as nuclear medicine imaging to create medical images. They then interpret these images to diagnose illness and injury.
  2. Interventional radiologists both diagnose and treat disease with imaging equipment. They use a range of medical images including MRI scans, CT (computed tomography) scans and ultrasound to precisely target and treat disease, and perform procedures such as biopsies. The interventional radiologist carefully manipulates needles, fine plastic tubes (catheters) and wires around the body (guided by the medical imagery) to perform medical procedures such as treating tumours, kidney stones or blocked arteries. Interventional radiology is a minimally invasive alternative to surgery with considerably less risk.

Radiation oncologists use radiation therapy to treat cancer and some other diseases. They are not referred to as clinical radiologists.
Diagnostic radiologists, interventional radiologists and radiation oncologists are all radiology specialists with the same level of training – they just specialise in different areas.
Information on how to become a clinical radiologist or radiation oncologist is available from The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists.

Last saved on 13 October 2016.