Clinical radiology

Clinical radiologists are doctors who use images to diagnose, treat and manage medical conditions and diseases. Clinical radiologists work as part of a close-knit team with radiographers. They also collaborate closely with other doctors and staff from a wide range of medical specialties, and offer specialist expertise and guidance.

This page provides useful information on the nature of the work, the common procedures/interventions, sub-specialties and other roles that may interest you.

Photo of x-ray

Nature of the work

Imaging is at the heart of modern medicine and is an essential part of many treatments. The clinical radiologist plays a vital role in swift and accurate diagnosis of many conditions.  The job involves problem solving – examining the anatomy, pathology, clinical history and previous imaging for the patient. Selecting the appropriate techniques for diagnosis and minimising radiation exposure are all part of the role.

Multidisciplinary team meetings are an everyday part of patient care and many will have a clinical radiologist present. Their expert opinion is highly valued and respected throughout the clinical environment.

Clinical oncologists (rather than radiologists) use radiotherapy to treat tumours (see separate article).

Clinical radiologists use various imaging techniques including:

"Radiologists have a vital role to play in diagnosis". Dr Jackie Hughes is a consultant radiologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Cambridge.

Read Jackie’s story

Common procedures/interventions

Clinical radiology has been at the forefront of minimally invasive techniques. This is known as interventional radiology and clinicians use guided procedures to diagnose and treat diseases in almost every organ system. X-ray, ultrasound, MRI and CT are used to guide and direct a wide variety of interventional treatments throughout the body. These minimally invasive techniques reduce infection rates and have shorter recovery times. The procedures are often performed as day surgery, or might involve an overnight stay for the patient.

There are many interventional techniques which include:


The only sub-specialty that is recognised by the GMC is interventional radiology.

However, there are various areas of special interest within clinical radiology which include:

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Other roles that may interest you

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