ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Sept. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Nearly 300 million radiologic procedures will be performed this year in the United States, ranging from basic x-rays of broken bones to lifesaving radiation therapy for cancer patients. The medical professionals who perform those procedures are radiologic technologists, and their vital contributions to patient care will be recognized during the week of Nov. 5-11, 2000. National Radiologic Technology Week(R) is scheduled each year to coincide with the anniversary of the discovery of the x-ray by German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen on Nov. 8, 1895. Roentgen's early, grainy images gave physicians a glimpse into the human body for the first time and led to monumental advances in diagnostic medicine. Today, more than 220,000 registered radiologic technologists work in the United States. Whether they are using x-rays to produce images of anatomy or delivering high doses of radiation directly to cancerous tumors, radiologic technologists combine human compassion with the latest technology. The role of the radiologic technologist is continually expanding. Recent innovations in the field include: -- Magnetic resonance imaging is being used to peer into the mysteries of the human brain, allowing researchers to pinpoint areas that control movement, speech and memory. This "brain mapping" may bring scientists closer to understanding conditions such as Alzheimer disease and attention deficit disorder. -- A new nuclear medicine technique known as FDG-PET imaging is proving highly accurate for diagnosing brain and lung cancer, for predicting tumor response early in the course of a treatment regimen, and for evaluating treatment outcomes. -- Computed tomography is being investigated as an early screening method for colorectal cancer. Researchers believe CT scans could one day replace colonoscopies, an invasive procedure that requires patients to be sedated. These and other radiologic procedures offer invaluable insight into the human body. The technologists who perform these procedures must be educated in radiation safety, patient positioning, examination techniques, equipment protocols, radiation protection and basic patient care. "Treatment of patients depends on accurate and precise medical imaging and radiation therapy examinations," explained Michael DelVecchio, B.S., R.T.(R), president of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists. "Fractures can be aligned, ulcers can be detected and many other injuries and diseases can be treated when their exact nature is known to the physician. As an integral member of the health care team, radiologic technologists set the standard for patient care." National Radiologic Technology Week has been sponsored by the ASRT since 1979. The ASRT has more than 86,000 members and is the world's oldest and largest association for radiologic technologists. Consumer-Oriented Sidebar From the American Society of Radiologic Technologists What Patients Can Do to Ensure Quality Radiologic Examinations X-rays and other radiologic examinations can provide lifesaving information necessary for diagnosis and treatment. But, like most things, they carry a small risk. Here's how patients can ensure that they receive the best care possible the next time they are scheduled for a radiologic examination: -- Tell your physician or the radiologic technologist if you are pregnant. Many types of x-ray examinations may be performed safely on pregnant women, but the benefits of the examination must be weighed against any risks to the developing fetus. -- The eyes, thyroid and reproductive organs are more sensitive to radiation than other parts of the body. These organs usually are shielded when they are in the path of the x-ray beam. If you do not receive shielding and think you should, ask. -- Remain still during the exposure, which will last only a few seconds. Motion makes images blurry, and blurry images must be repeated. -- Don't refuse a radiologic examination if there is a clear need for it. Remember, the risk is small. On the other hand, don't insist on an x-ray or another type of imaging examination if your physician does not recommend one. Radiologic examinations should be performed only when there is a medical need. -- Ask whether the person performing your exam is a registered radiologic technologist. Registered technologists must graduate from a formal education program and pass a national certification exam. They also must earn continuing education credits throughout their career, keeping them up-to-date on changes in technology. For more information about radiologic examinations and procedures, write for a free copy of "The Picture of Health," a patient guide to medical imaging. Send a stamped, self-addressed, business-sized envelope to: American Society of Radiologic Technologists, Customer Services Department, "The Picture of Health," 15000 Central Ave. SE, Albuquerque, NM 87123-3917.
SOURCE American Society of Radiologic Technologists