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Diagnostic radiographer: Job description

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Diagnostic radiographers use x-rays, ultrasound and other forms of imaging technology to examine patients. They are responsible for acquiring the image and frequently they interpret the images and diagnose illnesses and injuries.

They may contribute towards establishing treatment plans and can also be involved in intervention procedures, e.g. the removal of kidney stones.

They have a patient care role and work in a variety of hospital departments, including operating theatre, accident and emergency and on wards. They, therefore, work closely with a wide range of other healthcare professionals. The amount of time and type of contact they have with patients depends on the specialist area they work in.

Some of the imaging technologies that a diagnostic radiographer may use include:

  • x-rays - looking through tissue to examine bones, cavities and foreign objects;
  • fluoroscopy - creates real-time images to show movement;
  • angiography - takes x-rays of blood vessels;
  • computed tomography (CT) - creates images of cross-sections of the body;
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - builds a 2D or 3D map of different tissue types within the body using magnetism;
  • ultrasound - produces images using high frequency sound;
  • radio nuclide imaging (nuclear medicine) - uses radioisotopes to show how the body and organs function.

Typical work activities

Tasks often involve:

  • assessing patients and their clinical requirements to determine appropriate radiographic techniques;
  • performing a range of radiographic examinations on patients to produce high-quality images;
  • observing and maintaining contact with patients during their waiting, examination and post-examination stay in the department;
  • assisting in more complex radiological examinations working with radiologists and doctors and surgeons;
  • providing support and reassurance to patients, taking into account their physical and psychological needs;
  • recording imaging identification and patient documentation quickly and accurately and observing protocols to ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act and patient confidentiality;
  • supervising assistant practitioners, students and other staff, and delivering appropriate education and training;
  • understanding and observing health and safety at work and welfare issues, including ionising radiation regulations, to protect yourself and others;
  • ensuring that equipment is regularly checked for malfunctions and any faults are reported.
Written by AGCAS editors
October 2012

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