So how does and find themselves in a radiology department? Well, it starts with another doctor. Maybe you're seeing your primary care provider for a sick visit, or you've gone to the emergency room for some sort of unexplained pain, or maybe you have a subspecialist who's addressing a new problem that has been recently discovered. At some point, your doctor will have a question that they can't answer in their office just by talking to you and doing a physical exam or sending out some labs. Maybe you're at a sick visit and you have a cough. The question is, is it pneumonia or is it just a cold? Well, get a chest X-ray. That'll answer the question, just like that. Let's say you had sudden severe belly pain and you end up going to the emergency room. Well, one of the first things the ER doctor is going to do when you come through the door is order a CAT scan or an ultrasound, try and see what's going on inside. Patients diagnosed with cancer are always going to see their oncologists. Well, the oncologists find it critical to characterize that cancer, see how much spread there is, whether it's recurred, whether it's regressed... You can't exactly do that with a stethoscope and physical exam. Now, you need a full body CT scan or a PET scan to constantly keep up on the progression of the cancer. You see, radiology can see inside your body without ever having to break the skin. Having any one of these radiology tests can answer one question or many questions, and those answers are going to guide your care. What kind of medicine should you be taking? Any drugs? Depending on what an infection is and what it looks like on the CAT scan, that may change the specific antibiotic, even, you get prescribed. Should you have surgery? Should you not? If you're a cancer patient, should you continue your chemo or switch it up to a different strategy? Radiology is often a critical step in treatment planning and often even informs life and death decisions.
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