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What Is a Medical Imaging Technologist?

Medical imaging often allows a technologist to make a diagnosis without invasive testing.
An MRI machine, which is used for medical imaging.
Article Details
  • Written By: S. Reynolds
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 19 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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A medical imaging technologist is a professional who works in the health care industry. These medical professionals use imaging technology to look inside the body in order to diagnose diseases in patients. Images are taken via machines that are hooked up to computers.

The images captured are detailed enough for physicians to see tumors and other abnormalities. Medical imaging is a valuable tool that allows medical professionals to view inside the body without having to cut anything open. This type of testing is non-invasive for the patient and not painful, though some forms of imaging — especially those that involve radiation — may pose long-term health risks.

There are a few different job titles that fall under the spectrum of medical imaging. For example, a radiography medical imaging technologist uses X-rays to see inside the body. Other tools used by these professionals include Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) scans. Most medical imaging technologists specialize in one medical field, such as oncology or obstetrics.

An MRI is commonly used by medical imaging technologists. It uses radio waves along with a magnetic field to get detailed pictures of various body parts. Doctors can see illnesses such as cancer and heart disease using MRI images.

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Another type of scanner tool used by imaging technologists is the CAT scan. This type of scan is good for getting anatomy images in different angles. CAT scans are also more detailed than X-rays and can see not only bones, but also tiny blood vessels, muscles, and fat.

Sonography is another popular field with imaging technologists. Sonograms are often used for pregnant women since they use only sound waves. These bounce off a fetus to produce a clear picture for the doctor and expectant mother. Sonograms are also helpful for seeing tumors in the body.

Nuclear medicine is another field in which a medical imaging technologist might work. This field is a little more dangerous than the others, as it uses radioactive substances to capture images. These kinds of technologists, usually called radiographers, often work in cancer wards.

In order to become a medical imaging technologist, one must hold a degree in the subject. Training programs range from one year to four years. On-the-job hospital or clinic internships are also a necessity when one is attempting to find employment in the field.

Large hospitals are the biggest employers of medical imaging technologists. Research hospitals, universities, and major city medical centers often have the best and most expensive equipment. Hospitals usually allow medical imaging professionals to specialize in one area of medicine.

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