Only radiologists, who are trained to diagnose medical conditions by interpreting technological imaging of the body, can definitively interpret computed tomography, or CT scans. Radiologists spend four or more postdoctoral years studying topics related to the performance and interpretation of diagnostic imaging, according to the American College of Radiology.
Radiologists complete a general medical education before their residency in radiology. Although the American College of Radiology notes that some specialize in areas such as breast or cardiovascular imaging, they are responsible for recognizing, assessing and appropriately reporting incidental findings, which are abnormalities on a scan that are unrelated to its original purpose. For example, lung nodules identified on an abdominal and pelvic CT scan ordered to rule out appendicitis as the cause of lower abdominal pain is an incidental finding.
Radiology Today describes the vital role other physicians, whether family doctors or specialists, play in radiologists' work. They order the CT scans and ultimately diagnose and treat conditions based on the radiologists' reported findings. However, radiologists are still necessary for reading images of any kind, such as those from CT scans, MRIs and X-rays.
The Internet hosts an abundance of information that seems relevant to patients who want to interpret the images of their bodies. However, Radiology Today cautions that untrained individuals who attempt to interpret the images without waiting for a doctor's report and advice may instead experience unnecessary confusion and anxiety at what they think they observe.