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radiology, branch of medicine specializing in the use of X rays, gamma rays, radioactive isotopes, and other forms of radiation in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. X ray machines and fluoroscopes are essential in diagnosing bone fractures, tumors, and other abnormalities of the internal organs. The computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan uses computer technology to focus X rays on precise sections of the body. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) utilizes supercooled magnets to concentrate and focus radiation in very small areas of the body, rendering sharp detail. Radioactive isotopes are also employed in diagnosis, e.g. iodine–131 is used to confirm cases of suspected thyroid disorder. In radiotherapy, X rays, gamma rays, and other radiation sources are used in the treatment of cancer and related diseases.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the medical science that studies the theory and practical use of ionizing radiation in the diagnosis and treatment of disease; it also studies the biological effects of ionizing radiation.

Radiology developed at the turn of the 20th century as a result of the discovery of X rays in 1895 and natural radioactivity in 1896. Its development as an independent discipline was related to advances in physics, chemistry, technology, and biology. In its initial stage, when X rays of low intensity and natural radioactive isotopes were used, the principles and methods common to both radiology and radiobiology were formulated; these sciences were later to become differentiated. The foundations for radiodiagnostics and radiotherapy, in the form of roentgenotherapy and curietherapy, were also established at this time.

The discovery of artificial radioactivity in 1934 and the development of atomic energy led to the creation of new scientific areas of study and branches of radiology including the following: the clinical aspects and therapy of radiation injuries; radiation hygiene, which studies the effect of ionizing radiation on human health; various methods of protecting the environment against contamination by radioactive substances and ensuring the safety of the population against radiation; and radioisotope diagnosis, which utilizes artificial radioisotopes and their compounds to study complex biochemical, physiological, and pathophysiologic processes in the body. Teletherapy was developed, which uses powerful gamma-ray sources with linear accelerators, betatrons, and such isotopes as 60Co and 137Cs. Medicinal preparations in the form of solutions, needles, beads, and applicators containing 198Au, 60Co, and 99Y were also developed, as were methods of proton, neutron, and meson therapy.

Usage of a particular treatment is based on differences in the distribution of a radiation dose in irradiated tissue and the relative biological effectiveness of the treatment in that area. The large number of differing sources of ionizing radiation used in therapy has been responsible for the improvement of clinical dosimetry. Dosimetry is aimed at substantiating the physical parameters of radiotherapy, which take into account the nature of the reaction of living tissue to irradiation. The theories and methods of radiology are used in different branches of medicine and often influence diagnosis and therapy.

In the USSR and some other countries, radiology and roentgenology are viewed as independent disciplines; and separate institutes, university subdepartments, societies, and journals are devoted to each discipline. In many countries, radiology includes roentgenology. Radiation therapy is often referred to as radiotherapy, and radioisotope diagnosis, as nuclear medicine.

The leading radiology research centers include the Institute of Medical Radiology of the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR, the Central Scientific Research Institute of Roentgenology and Radiology of the Ministry of Public Health of the USSR, and the Moscow Scientific Research Institute of Roentgenology and Radiology of the Ministry of Public Health of the RSFSR. Radiology research centers outside the USSR include the Gustave Roussy Institute and the Radium Institute (France) and Anderson Hospital and the Cancer Institute (USA). In the USSR, medical radiology is taught in the roentgenology and radiology subdepartments of medical institutes. Journals on radiology include Meditsinskaia radiologiia (Medical Radiology; founded 1956) and Vestnik rentgenologii i radiologii (Journal of Roentgenology and Radiology; founded 1920).


Kozlova, A. V. Luchevaia terapiia zlokacheslvennykh opukholei. Moscow, 1971.
Pereslegin, I. A., and Iu. Kh. Sarkisian. Klinicheskaia radiologiia. Moscow, 1973.
Bases physiques de la radiothérapie et de la radiobiologie. Paris, 1963.
Radiation Dosimetry. Edited by G. I. Hine and G. L. Brownell. New York, 1956.
Glocker, R., and E. Macheranuch. Röntgen- und Kernphysik für Mediziner und Biophysiker, 2nd. ed. Stuttgart, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The medical science concerned with radioactive substances, x-rays, and other ionizing radiations, and the application of the principles of this science to diagnosis and treatment of disease.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


the use of X-rays and radioactive substances in the diagnosis and treatment of disease
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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