What Is Digital Radiology?

Digital radiology is a computer-based form of X-ray technology that uses digital imaging instead of traditional X-ray film to create medical images. By producing images digitally, hospitals can save money and easily produce or send X-ray images as electronic files. Schools offering Cardiovascular Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Field Overview

Traditional X-rays must be chemically processed through a method similarly used with camera film. With digital radiology, X-ray technicians use digital sensors and X-ray equipment to capture internal images. Digital radiology is often used in dentistry to take panoramic X-rays of the teeth, jaw, and skull.

Important Facts About Digital Radiology

Similar Occupations Radiation Therapist, Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Nuclear Medicine Technologist
Key Skills Interpersonal, detail oriented, and technical skills
Required Education Associates degrees are the most common, though bachelor's and graduate degrees are also available.
On-the-Job Training Clinical training is available
Professional Certification An exam is administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.
Median Salary (2018) $59,200 (for all radiologic technologists)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Digital radiology eliminates the need for expensive film and chemicals which are used for traditional X-ray processes. Digital radiology creates more consistent, high quality X-ray images by reducing the chance of X-ray overexposure or under exposure.

Because digital X-rays can be viewed or printed on computers, they are more accessible and easier to include in medical records and reports. Additionally, the amount of radiation required for digital radiology is much less than the amount in traditional X-rays. Images produced by digital radiology can be previewed for quality and accuracy before being finalized, making digital radiology more flexible.

Equipment Used

There are two main types of digital imaging devices used in digital radiology--flat panel detectors and High Density Line Scan Solid State detectors. Each one uses radiation and imaging technology with different imaging processes. Each detector allows radiology technicians to produce X-ray images, send them to computers, and choose appropriate images based on quality and relevance. Advances in digital radiology allow hospitals and clinics to use more efficient imaging equipment, such as portable digital radiology sensors that can be used outside of a traditional radiology office.

Career Options

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) expects employment opportunities for radiologic technologists to increase about 12% between 2016 and 2026. In 2016, there were approximately 205,200 radiologic technologist jobs; this number is expected to rise to 230,500 by 2026. Most radiologic technologists work at hospitals, though many are employed at private physicians' offices and medical diagnostic clinics.

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