“THERE are certainly great career prospects for those who choose to come into radiography,” consultant radiographer Jenny Sword says. “The technology that we use every day is dynamic and constantly evolving, making it a very exciting area to work in.”

Using a range of different imaging techniques and equipment such as diagnostic X-ray, Fluoroscopy, CT and MRI scanners, Ultrasound and radio-isotopes, diagnostic radiographers are trained to produce high quality images of an injury or disease.

“The CT stands for Computerised Tomography and is a technique that uses X-rays to image ‘slices or cross sections’ through the body, which are then reformatted in such a way as to produce 3D images of the patient.

"The uses are many and varied and can include scanning a patient’s head to see if there is a bleed, as in the case of a suspected stroke or injury, or to see the extent of a tumour and whether other organs are involved.

"MRI, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, scanners use a strong magnetic field and radio pulses to generate cross-sectional images of the body which are reformatted in such a way to show up soft tissue areas within the abdomen, joints, and the brain.

"Its uses are many and varied for example it is used in a lot of research such as into brain function, as well as patients who have got long-standing musculo skeletal problems and patients with cancer, particularly prostrate cancer.”

Fluoroscopy is an X-ray based technique that produces live, real time images of the inside of the body. It has many uses such as, for example, guiding surgeons during an operation, in particular if they have to manipulate fractures back into position. Or, as in the case of cardiologists, it helps in the placement of pacemakers and stents.

Nuclear Medicine is another imaging technique which makes use of radioactive isotopes to image various parts of the body. The images produced show functional information about how a particular system or organ is working rather than its appearances.

Mammography is specialised medical imaging that uses low dose X-rays to examine breast tissue.

Many people will be familiar with the screening service that is available to detect early breast cancer in women with no symptoms.

Ultrasound is an imaging technique that uses high frequency sound waves to visualise areas and parts of the body.

There are many uses but the most familiar to many people is its use in scanning pregnant women.

It is also used to see abdominal and pelvic organs, blood vessels and some joints.

Patients are either referred through their GP or within the hospital by different specialists in areas such as orthopaedic, surgical, medicine or musculoskeletal (MSK).

They range from young mobile patients, cancer patients to elderly, frail patients and also those involved in trauma.

Radiology plays a critical part in the patients’ journey through the hospital.

Virtually all patients who come to the hospital for a consultation or as an emergency will visit the radiology department for an examination at some stage.

Once a patient has checked-in, the radiographer or an assistant will go to the waiting room to collect the patient.

“They meet and greet the patient by introducing themselves, and check the patient details - this is really important. We need to make sure the right name is on the right examination. Patients probably have their details checked several times,” Jenny says.

“Then they’re brought into the room and if the radiographer hasn’t met them already they’ll introduce themselves and tell them what the examination is, how it is done and answer any questions about the examination that they may have.

“They will then perform the examination and at the end, they’ll tell the patient how they will get the results.

"Once the examination has been reported either by a radiologist or a specialist radiographer the report will go back to the referrer - the GP or hospital clinician - who will then let the patient know the results.

“One of our challenges these days is examining patients with dementia.

"We have to understand that they are coming into a strange environment, out of their comfort zone and they are often not with people that they know.

"This can be a challenge and as a department and profession a lot of effort is put into training staff for these situations and making them aware of what they can do these patients.”