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What is a pediatric radiologist?

A pediatric radiologist is a physician specialist who looks at X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, and other pictures of children’s bones and tissues to identify problems that may be causing a medical condition.

Usually, your child’s pediatrician or other medical specialist will order the test. The radiologist will review images from these diagnostic tests and then prepare a report for your child’s doctor about the results. This is one of the tools that will allow your primary care doctor or specialist to create a treatment plan for your child.

Although we most often think of X-rays and bones, new technologies allow radiologists to look at other tissues and structures in the body. Pediatric radiologists are specially trained to recognize the diseases and conditions that are more likely to affect children.

What services does a pediatric radiologist provide?

Pediatric radiologists use computers and other tools to make diagnostic images of the human body. The kind of equipment will depend on the particular of the study:

  • X-ray—An X-ray uses small amounts of radiation to take a picture of bodily structures, such as your child’s bones. A radiologist will use this procedure if your child has a suspected broken bone.
  • Ultrasound—Ultrasound uses sound waves to make an image of your child’s organs or tissues. Although ultrasounds are usually associated with pregnancy, they are a great way for a radiologist to look at your child’s organs, like his or her kidneys.
  • Computer tomography (CT) scan—A CT scan uses X-rays to take a picture of your child’s bones and tissues. These scans can be used along with injected and drinkable dyes to pinpoint abnormalities in certain organs.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—Like a CT scan, an MRI scan makes images of portions of your child’s body. But instead of using X-ray radiation, an MRI uses large and strong magnets. Radiologists use MRIs to look at organs such as the brain, muscles, bone, and internal organs.
  • Nuclear medicine—Nuclear medicine studies use radiopharmaceuticals that are typically injected and tend to concentrate on specific organs. A special camera then makes diagnostic images. Different organs such as the thyroid gland or bones can be emphasized.

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