Important Terminology for Medical Radiology

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  • 0:01 Radiological Rerminology
  • 0:35 Radiology & Radiologist
  • 1:40 Radiographs & Ionizing…
  • 3:01 Are X-Rays Safe?
  • 4:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Radiology, radiologist, rads, radiographs, radiograms, ionizing radiation, and other terms related to medical terminology are defined in this lesson. The dangers of x-rays are also discussed.

Radiological Terminology

In this lesson, we're going to meet Mary. Mary has some chest pain, a cough, and even seems to be spitting up quite a bit of bloody mucus. All of that is definite cause for concern. It could be an infection, cancer, or something else altogether. She rushes to her doctor who tells her she needs some radiological work performed to help diagnose the problem.

What does that mean? Mary is confused, too. So let's define these terms as we join her on her trip to the doctor's office and hospital.

Radiology & Radiologist

Mary has heard of the term 'radiology' before but isn't exactly sure what it really is. Her doctor tells her that radiology is a branch of medicine that deals with the use of radiant energy in order to diagnose and even treat disease.

Mary's doctor examines her and tells her that he suspects one of a few things may be going on, but he needs to be able to look inside of her chest to see what may be causing the problem. The easiest, fastest, and least troublesome option is for her to go and get some chest x-rays. This is standard medical procedure before ordering more expensive and potentially more dangerous tests.

Since Mary's doctor is a primary care physician and his office is kind of small, he refers Mary to a local radiologist at a nearby hospital to get these x-rays taken care of. A radiologist is a medical specialist of radiology. Radiologists are doctors, like Mary's personal physician, but with specialized training in using things like x-rays, radioactive substances, and other things to diagnose and treat disease.

Radiographs & Ionizing Radiation

When Mary gets to the hospital, she's worried about what's really going to happen and how safe everything is. So, she talks to a radiologist there. She explains to Mary that her primary care physician wants some standard rads of her chest. It's a totally painless procedure and won't take long at all.

Mary has no idea what a rad is. So, she asks the radiologist whether it has anything to do with her favorite decade, the 70s, and if it's really all that rad or not. The radiologist explains that a rad is a simple way to say radiograph or radiogram in medicine. Rads, radiographs, or radiograms are all terms for an x-ray image and the process of making an x-ray film or examining a person via x-rays is called radiography.

I think you know what an x-ray is, it's that black and white image that I'm sure you've seen before, especially if you've broken a bone or something. That's an x-ray, also known as a radiograph.

'-graph' is a suffix that denotes a record made by something, like your drawing of a graph in math class, and '-gram' is a suffix that also denotes a recording. The 'radio-' prefix these terms share refers to radiation, specifically in our case to the ionizing radiation used to take an x-ray image of Mary's chest. Ionizing radiation is a kind of high-energy radiation that causes substances to dissociate into ions.

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