LRMC celebrates National Radiologic Technologist Week

by Tina Gardner
LRMC radiology technologist

Landstuhl Regional Medical Center celebrates National Radiologic Technologist Week beginning Nov. 6 by calling attention to the vital role radiologic technologists play in the medical imaging field, as well as in patient and healthcare safety.

National Radiologic Technologist Week is always celebrated in the month of November to commemorate the anniversary of the X-ray’s discovery by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, a German physicist. On Nov. 8, 1895, he discovered unknown rays, which he called X-rays.

At LRMC, the radiology team consists of 91 employees, including radiologic technologists, radiologists, administrative and support personnel. The 12 radiologists read and provide care for all patients stationed in Europe, Africa, Middle East, as well as, the wounded warriors coming from Afghanistan and Iraq. This year, the LRMC team served more than 40,000 patients, but to the men and women who serve at LRMC, each patient they serve is the most important patient they see each day.

“The service we provide makes a lasting impression on the people we serve,” said Senior Master Sgt. Thaddeus M. Brannon, LRMC radiology superintendent. “It is a vital step in making a comprehensive diagnosis that helps determine the quality of life for our wounded and injured Armed Forces members protecting the lives and values of the American people.”

Radiologic technologist and radiologist not only produce X-rays images, but also assist the radiologist during exams, and assist surgeons in the operating room.
At Landstuhl, military and civilian technicians ensure images and exams are held up to American Registry of Radiologic Technologist standards to promote a high standard of patient care. Each civilian technologist that works at Landstuhl is nationally registered, meaning they have successfully completed an educational program that is accredited and acceptable to the ARRT.

The Radiology Department provides a wide range of diagnostic imaging modalities whose names are familiar to many people, but they may not fully understand what their function is or how they work. Below is a brief explanation of the world class technology used at LRMC:

Diagnostic Imaging is the production of X-ray images of any part of the human body. X-rays are produced by transmitting X-rays through a patient´s body part to a capture device than converts it into an image for diagnosis.

Computed Tomography is commonly referred to as a CAT scan, in which the X-ray beam moves in a circle around the body to allow different views of the same organ or structure. The image is sent to a computer and is displayed in a two dimensional form on a monitor. CAT scans of internal organs, bone, soft tissue and blood vessels provide greater clarity and reveal more details than regular X-ray exams.

Ultrasound does not use X-rays, but utilizes high frequency sound waves to visualize soft tissue, internal organs, muscles, veins and arteries. The most common ultrasound imaging is the imaging of the human fetus. Other types of exams include the abdominal, thyroid, testicular and breast exam. Ultrasound is also a valuable tool during invasive procedures such as biopsies, fine needles aspirations and fluid drainages.

Magnetic Resonance imaging, also known as an MRI, is another imaging technique that doesn’t use X-rays. LRMC has the only DOD MRI scanners in Europe. The magnetic field of a 1.5T scanner is 30,000 times stronger than the Earth´s magnetic field.  This is why it is very important that patients be screened for any metal inside and outside their bodies prior to entering the MRI scan room.

Nuclear Medicine uses low doses of radioactive medications for functional imaging, as well as higher doses for treatment of cancers such as thyroid or bone. This section also does bone density, cardiac stress testing and has the newest combined SPECT-CT camera. The SPECT-CT camera uses a low dose CT scan to combine with nuclear medicine images for greater clarity and better treatment planning. Procedures can take from 20 minutes to many hours or days.

PACS, or Picture Archive Communication System, has the mission of archiving radiological studies performed by all modalities at LRMC and its seven outlying clinics. PACS is also responsible for importing and exporting images/studies from downrange and stateside medical centers.

All these different modalities make up the Radiology Department. A doctor will decide which modality is necessary for diagnosis and treatment. Sometimes several modalities are needed to get a clear picture and to help the radiologist diagnose an illness. Although some modalities are different from others, they all share the same goal and the same passion — best possible images, and excellent patient care.

LRMC, with a staff of more than 3,000 Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Soldiers, local nationals and civilians, provides medical care for more than 245,000 U.S. military personnel and their families within U.S. European Command. LRMC, which falls under Europe Regional Medical Command, is the largest American hospital outside of the U.S. and serves as the strategic evacuation medical center for CENTCOM, AFRICOM and EUCOM. The LRMC footprint also includes the Vincenza Health Center and a total of six U.S. Army Health Clinics in Italy, Belgium and Germany.