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angioplasty: the use of a small balloon on the tip of a catheter inserted into a blood vessel to open up an area of blockage inside the vessel.

arteriogram (also called an angiogram.): an X-ray of the arteries and veins to detect blockage or narrowing of the vessels.


barium: a metallic chemical (chalky liquid) used to coat the inside of organs so that they will show up on an X-ray.

barium study: a type of diagnostic X-ray in which barium is used to diagnose abnormalities of the digestive tract. Barium enema, upper GI and barium swallow are types of barium studies.

biopsy: a procedure in which tissue samples are removed (with a needle or during surgery) from the body for examination under a microscope to determine whether cancer or other abnormal cells are present.


computed tomography scan (Also called a CT or CAT scan.): a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, soft tissues and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.


diagnostic radiology: the use of various radiology techniques, mostly noninvasive, to diagnose an array of medical conditions. Diagnostic radiology includes the use of X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans and ultrasound.


embolization: insertion of a substance through a catheter into a blood vessel to stop hemorrhaging (excessive bleeding). Embolization is also used to cut off the supply of blood to tumors or other abnormal growths in the body.


fluoroscopy: a live study of moving body structures. A continuous X-ray beam is passed through the body part being examined. The beam is captured and is transmitted to a monitor so that the body part can be seen in detail in real time.


gamma camera: a device used in nuclear medicine to scan patients who have been injected with small amounts of radioisotopes.

gastrostomy tube: a feeding tube inserted into the stomach if the patient is unable to take food by mouth.


interventional radiology: an area of specialty within the field of radiology that uses various radiology techniques (such as X-ray, CT scans, MRI scans and ultrasounds) to place catheters, tubes or other devices inside a patient to diagnose or treat an array of conditions.

intravenous pyelogram (IVP): a series of X-rays of the kidney, ureters and bladder with the injection of a contrast dye into the vein. An IVP is used to detect abnormalities.


magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.

mammogram: an X-ray of the breast used to detect and diagnose breast disease.


needle biopsy: insertion of a small needle into an abnormal area in almost any part of the body to obtain a tissue sample. The needle is often guided using imaging technology. This type of biopsy can provide a diagnosis without surgical intervention. An example of this procedure is called the needle breast biopsy.

nuclear medicine: a specialized area of radiology that uses very small amounts of radioactive substances to examine organ function and structure.


positron emission tomography (PET): in nuclear medicine, a procedure that measures the metabolic activity of cells and may detect cancer at the very earliest treatable stages.


radiologist: a physician specializing in the medical field of producing and interpreting images obtained through X-ray, MRI, CT, ultrasound and other imaging technologies.

radiopharmaceutical (also called a tracer or radionuclide): basic radioactively tagged compound necessary to produce a nuclear medicine or PET image.


stent: a tiny, expandable coil that is placed inside a blood vessel at the site of a blockage. The stent is expanded to open up the blockage.


therapeutic radiology: the treatment of cancer and other diseases with radiation.

tomography: from the Greek words “to cut or section” (tomos) and “to write” (graphein). In nuclear medicine, tomography separates an area of interest by imaging a section of the object.


ultrafast CT (computed tomography) scan: a type of radiology diagnostic procedure in which an X-ray beam moves in a circle around the body. This allows many different views of the same organ or structure, and provides much greater detail. The X-ray information is sent to a computer that interprets the X-ray data and displays it in 2-dimensional form on a monitor.

ultrasound: a diagnostic technique which uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs.


X-ray: a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones and organs on film or an X-ray sensitive digital plate.