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Sonographer and patient2

The Royal Berkshire Hospital radiology service provides state-of-the-art medical imaging for the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of medical conditions. The department provides diagnostic imaging services in four key locations:

Royal Berkshire Hospital (Reading)

Townlands Memorial Hospital (Henley-upon-thames)

Royal Berkshire Bracknell Healthspace (Bracknell)

West Berkshire Community Hospital (Newbury)

What is radiology?

Radiology is a medical specialty that uses imaging to diagnose and treat diseases seen within the body. Radiologists use a variety of imaging techniques such as X-ray, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine including positron emission tomography (PET), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to diagnose and/or treat diseases. Interventional radiology is the performance of (usually minimally invasive) medical procedures with the guidance of imaging technologies.

What is a radiologist?

A radiologist is a specially trained doctor who interprets diagnostic imaging to guide the management of disease. If you have an interventional procedure (such as an angiogram or biopsy) a specially trained radiologist called an interventional radiologist will perform the procedure. Radiologists provide a scan report which is then sent to your doctor.

What is a radiographer?

A diagnostic radiographer is a person who has been trained to take your X-ray or perform your MRI or CT scan. If trained to perform an ultrasound a radiographer is known as a sonographer. Radiographers also support a radiologist in performing interventional procedures.

Diagnostic radiographers employ a range of techniques to produce high quality images to diagnose disease. Some radiographers are also trained to provide reports on X-ray imaging. 
The identification and monitoring of diseases, skeletal and soft tissue abnormalities and trauma are the major focus of diagnostic radiography.

Radiographers use a range of techniques including:

  • X-rays – used to look through tissue to examine bones, cavities and foreign objects. May be used with contrast agents to provide a live motion image, eg fluoroscopy to image the digestive system, or angiography to investigate blood vessels
  • CT (computed tomography) – provides cross-sectional views (slices) of the body allowing disease to be identified and localised
  • nuclear medicine – uses radioactive tracers which can be administered to examine how the body and organs function, for example the kidneys or heart. Certain radioisotopes can also be administered to treat particular cancers such as thyroid cancer.

Techniques that do not use ionising radiation are:

  • Ultrasound – uses high frequency sound. This technique is widely used in obstetrics, gynaecology and paediatrics and for patients with abdominal, vascular or musculoskeletal conditions
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) – provides high quality imaging of body parts without the need for radiation.

    Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust,
    London Road,
    RG1 5AN
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    Tel: 0118 322 5111