Radiological (or x-ray) technologists make up about 80% of the 10,000 members represented by the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists (CAMRT).
At a physician’s request, the radiological technologist produces images of a body part or system using equipment that emits x-rays. The radiologist — a doctor who specializes in interpreting x-rays — studies the images and dispenses advice that helps the treating physician make a diagnosis and prescribe an appropriate course of treatment for the patient.
The radiological technologist profession encompasses a broad variety of procedures and covers a number of specialties, including:
- Plain film radiological technology, i.e., x-rays of the chest, bones, joints, spine
- Mammography to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages
- Angiography to examine the heart, blood vessels and blood flow
- Fluoroscopy: Real-time images that show how the systems in the body function, for example, the gastrointestinal or urinary systems of a patient
- Computerized tomography (CT scans), i.e., detailed cross-sectional images of the body
Technologists are responsible for the quality of the x-ray images and for providing the correct view of specific body structures or systems, whether on film, a computer monitor, or a television screen.
Some procedures require that barium and/or a dye called contrast medium be given to patients to highlight organs and structures that would not otherwise be seen.
As part of their professional duty, radiological technologists:
- EXPLAIN the procedure to patients
- ANSWER questions as fully as possible
- CONTRIBUTE to patient education
- COMFORT patients and provide emotional support
- POSITION patients and equipment correctly
- ADMINISTER radiation
- PROTECT patients, staff and visitors from radiation
- MONITOR patients during the procedure
- ASSIST the radiologist for angiograms and interventional procedures
- OPERATE the equipment safely and accurately