This lesson provides an overview of the health care delivery system.
Specifically, it covers radiologic technology modalities and functions and health care
system components and functions. As such, it provides insight into the techniques
available to those working in the fields of radiology and radiography. In addition, it
offers a sense of where and how the field of radiography fits into the larger picture of
health care, as a whole. More people in America are engaged in health care than any
other occupational field. It is essential to have an appreciation for the contributions
made by others on the health care team, in order to have a deeper awareness of
yourself as a member of the health care team.
The term radiologic imaging conjures up images of a static film being taken of a
person who is lying on a table with an x-ray tube overhead, and a film underneath
(radiography). In fact, radiologic imaging encompasses much more than just
radiography. It includes a number of modalities or methodologies. (The term modality
is derived from the Latin modalis, meaning manner or way of doing things; thus, the
modern-day meaning, methodology.) These radiographic modalities include: radiation
therapy, nuclear medicine, diagnostic medical sonography (ultrasound), and
computerized tomography, as well as radiography
People tend to think of radiography when they speak of radiologic imaging,
perhaps, because radiography is one of the primary methods of diagnosing disease or
abnormality. Radiographic examinations can be performed on almost every body part,
to include the skull, the thoracic cavity, the spine, the extremities, etc. using an X-ray
tube and image receptor.
Another modality used in the radiology department is radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy is not used to diagnose disease, but, rather, to treat a patient whose
condition has already been established, for example, for cancer patients, and those with
certain skin diseases. In radiation therapy, diseased areas are exposed to various
types of radiation.