The central role radiologists play in healthcare

Tuesday 8 November 2022

A few reflections on International Day of Radiology today (8 November 2022).

The vast majority of clinical pathways involve imaging, and the number of patients benefiting from innovative and minimally invasive techniques performed by interventional radiologists is increasing every year. Yet despite this, many people know very little about who radiologists are and the vital role they play. Some people will have never heard of them and do not understand that all the complex images produced by their scans need skilled interpretation.

International Day of Radiology is the chance to celebrate the profession and the ground-breaking work radiologists do every day around the world. It offers the chance to highlight how radiology is essential to patient care in a modern healthcare system.


Medical imaging is used every day in hospitals across the world and nearly all patients will have some sort of imaging at some stage during their lives, whether that is via their GP or in the hospital. All these images need to be interpreted – and radiologists are key to this.

No one wants to spend more time than necessary in hospital and with so much pressure on in-patient beds it is really important that we use our wards as efficiently as possible. If you can work out what is wrong with patients at the front door, then they may not need admission. If they do require hospital treatment, medical imaging can ensure they go to the right place and that their length of stay is shorter.


Imaging technology is also developing at an incredible speed; the number of techniques and their applications continues to increase rapidly each year. We can do amazing things with imaging – it is even possible to watch people thinking with an MRI of the brain.

Interventional radiology (IR) is also developing at pace and replacing more invasive procedures. These IR procedures are much better for patients, allowing more people to access treatment and faster recovery.

More recently, we are seeing exciting opportunities for artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse images and data and provide further information to support both patients and clinicians. But the glue that binds all the techniques together is coordination, interpretation and communication by radiologists.

Dr Katharine Halliday, RCR President