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Glossary - Radiology

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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 the organs so that they will show up on an x-ray.

barium x-rays - a type of diagnostic x-ray in which barium is used to diagnose abnormalities of the digestive tract. Barium enema, barium small-bowel enema, and barium swallow are types of barium x-rays.

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 if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.

brachytherapy - a type of radiation treatment in which the radioactive substance is placed inside the patient as close as possible to the area being treated.


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 (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, 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 - the insertion of a substance through a catheter into a blood vessel to stop hemorrhaging, or excessive bleeding.

external beam therapy - a type of therapeutic radiation treatment that is delivered externally from a machine directed to the cancer inside the patient.


fluoroscopy - a study of moving body structures, similar to an x-ray "movie." A continuous x-ray beam is passed through the body part being examined, and is transmitted to a TV-like monitor so that the body part and its motion can be seen in detail.


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

Gamma Knife - a type of radiosurgery that uses gamma rays to treat brain cancer.

gastrostomy tubes - a gastrostomy tube (feeding tube) is inserted into the stomach if the patient is unable to take food by mouth.



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

intravascular ultrasound - the use of ultrasound inside a blood vessel to better visualize the interior of the vessel in order to detect problems inside the blood vessel.

intravenous pyelogram (IVP) - a series of x-rays of the kidney, ureters, and bladder with the injection of a contrast dye into the vein - to detect tumors, abnormalities, kidney stones, or any obstructions, and to assess renal blood flow.




Linear accelerator (LINAC) - a device used to create high-energy x-rays for radiosurgery treatment.


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 - a small needle is inserted into the abnormal area in almost any part of the body, guided by imaging techniques, to obtain a tissue biopsy. 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.

proton beam therapy - a type of radiation therapy used to treat cancer and other lesions.



radiologist - a physician specializing in the medical field of radiology.

radiopharmaceutical (Also called a tracer or radionuclide.) - basic radioactively-tagged compound necessary to produce a nuclear medicine image.

radiosurgery - a type of therapeutic radiology treatment that uses very focused beams of radiation to treat cancer and other lesions in a one-session treatment.


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, it is a method of separating interference from the area of interest by imaging a cut 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 onto film.



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