Everything you need to know about subspecialties of Radiology
Everything you need to know about subspecialties of Radiology
January 27, 2022 by eMedEvents

Radiology is the art of interpreting visual information by using very complex equipment creating very complex images. The field of radiology is a lot more complicated than reading an x-ray and determining a problem. Undeniably, radiology is complex and includes several subspecialties to choose from.

The Basics

After completing high school studies, on average, it will take 13 years to become a Radiologist. The 13 years includes completing an undergraduate degree, which usually takes four years, followed by four years of Medical school, then a one-year internship, followed by four years of residency training in Diagnostic Radiology. Additionally, more than 95% of physicians who complete residency always prefer to pursue a Fellowship in radiology sub-specialty. In addition, a minimum of one year of additional training.

Radiology Categories:

Radiology generally falls into 2 categories: Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology. Diagnostic radiologists use imaging technologies, such as ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs, and PET scans to diagnose a patient's health condition. Interventional radiology uses image-guided procedures (angioplasty, ablation, and stent placements) to diagnose and treat various patients' conditions.

Both diagnostic radiology and interventional radiology have further subspecialties. Most of the radiology subspecialties require a one to two-year fellowship completion.

Radiology subspecialty options include the following:

Diagnostic Radiology

A diagnostic radiologist uses x-rays, ultrasound, radionuclides, and electromagnetic radiation to diagnose and treat a patient’s health problems. The required training for diagnostic radiology is five years: one year of clinical training, followed by four years of radiology training.

Interventional Radiology

Interventional radiology (IR) is the most procedure-oriented and fast-paced radiology subspecialty. An incumbent can directly go into an integrated interventional radiology residency after medical school, which is a 6-year path. After completing your radiology residency, you can also do this as a 2-year fellowship.

Procedures in interventional radiology are minimally invasive and can be performed using wires and catheters. Interventional radiology helps you cure cancers, salvage critical limbs, stop life-threatening hemorrhage, and reverse disabling genitourinary conditions through an incision merely centimeters long.


Neuroradiology is for those who are highly intellectual, driven by curiosity, and have a great passion for learning. The main job is to diagnose pathologies involving the brain and spinal cord and guide clinical decision-making. Neurological radiology is an interdisciplinary approach to apply radiology in the diagnosis and cure of neurological challenges.

Diagnosing strokes is one such condition, where neuroradiologist deploys his radiology related acumen to diagnose the patient’s condition. If you are interested in more procedural interventions with the brain and spinal cord, you can pursue a neuro-interventional fellowship afterward.

Radiology for Diagnosis and treating Breast cancers

Radiology is applied under the clinical settings to perform mammograms and biopsies on female patients. Radiologists that specialize in treating breast cancers may lead a comfortable career path with occasional night shifts, as there would not be many emergency conditions while treating breast cancer cases.

Pediatric Radiology

Pediatric radiology is strictly for those who enjoy the pathology of pediatrics but not necessarily the clinical aspect. Pediatric radiologists use imaging and interventional procedures related to diagnosing, caring, and managing congenital abnormalities and diseases particular to infants and children. A pediatric radiologist also treats diseases that begin in early childhood and cause impairments in adulthood.

Musculoskeletal Radiology

Musculoskeletal radiologists’ responsibilities revolve around orthopedics and sports medicine in diagnosis and management. As a result, musculoskeletal radiologists will be working side by side with the orthopedic specialists. It’s a highly procedural field, with joint aspirations for diagnosis, joint injections for pain, and kyphoplasties to treat vertebral fractures.

Body Imaging & Body MRI

Body imaging and MRI is the work-horse of radiology and the backbone of the clinic. Radiation oncologists use ionizing radiation and other modalities to treat malignant and benign diseases. Radiation oncologists may also use computed tomography (CT) scans, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and hyperthermia (heat) as additional interventions to aid in treatment planning and delivery.  


Radiology has been a fast-growing field, and it plays a critical role in the health system. The demand for professional radiologists in clinics, hospitals, and physicians' offices is at an all-time high.

With the advent of technology, the demand for radiology will continue to increase and extend its impact on inpatient care – from prevention and diagnosis to treatment and recovery of chronic and acute cancerous diseases. Significance of radiologists will continue to increase in the future. So, choosing a profession as a radiologist will be the best decision ever for all upcoming medical professionals.

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