How Subspecialized Radiologists Help You Get the Best MRI Read
When you go to get an MRI, you’ll probably never meet your radiologist. A technologist takes you through the exam and your doctor takes it from there. But in between collecting the images and delivering them to the doctor is a behind-the-scenes radiologist who looks at the pictures and interprets them. Bu
t not all radiologists are created equal.
The Radiology Difference: Subspecialists
Dr. Steven Pollei is a neuroradiologist for Center for Diagnostic Imaging in Federal Way, WA. Becoming a radiologist and then going onto specialize in neuroradiology is a rigorous journey. “When I was 33, my dad was asking me if I was ever going to have a real job,” Dr. Steven Pollei remembers, “Because I did seven years of training after medical school. I did radiology residency, I did a flexible internship year and then I did two years of neuroradiology fellowship at the end.” That extensive and intensive training led Pollei beyond radiology and into the category of subspecialist in neuroradiology.
At CDI, our goal is for our subspecialized radiologists to read at 80% of their specialty. “If you come to CDI for a chest or abdominal study, a body radiologist will look at it. If you come for a brain study, a neuroradiologist will look at it,” Pollei explains. “In other environments, you might read bones and brains and breasts all the same day. And then you have to try to figure out what everything shows.”
Do I Need a Subspecialist?
One advantage of having a subspecialist reading your images is that they can see precise details about your unique disease or injury. They’ve had lots of practice that a generalized radiologist just can’t get. That’s a point backed up by research reported in the Academy of Radiology Leadership and Management which suggests that subspecialized radiologists have increased accuracy. When you look at how much experience a subspecialist gets, it makes sense:
The Journal of the American College of Radiology reports that specialization is the way forward in the field. “Gone are the days of modality-based expertise. Radiologists will be gurus of their chosen organ systems.” And yet many imaging centers and hospitals still rely on generalists. The research firm The Advisory Board Company says this is because, even though subspecialist can get the job done faster and more accurately, it requires more radiologists on staff.
Dr. Ranjeet Singh is a musculoskeletal and neuroradiologist at CDI. In addition to looking at heads, he specializes in interpreting images of spines for people with musculoskeletal disorders. “Having all the specialized radiologists within CDI gives us a greater degree of skill and expertise.”
The Patient Pay-Off
Expertise was just what Douglas Boucher wanted when he came to CDI. For more than a month, he’d been suffering pain and swelling from a torn bicep tendon. Before his surgeon went in, he ordered an MRI to get a look at the problem. Having a subspecialized radiologist in the mix makes sense to him. “I would like somebody who’s just dedicated to that type of injury in that part of the anatomy,” Boucher says. “It’s pretty straightforward. If he’s just going to see this type of injury, he’s obviously going to get better and better at that.”