Chiropractic care often involves the use of diagnostic imaging so that your chiropractor can choose the most effective form of treatment for your condition. A chiropractor who is a Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Radiology (DACBR) is a certified specialist in diagnostic imaging who can order and interpret advanced imaging such as a CT scans, MRIs and ultrasounds.
There are approximately 150 certified DACBR specialists in the US today. Most chiropractors are general chiropractors. However, like MDs, chiropractors can choose to specialize in a particular discipline after completing their undergraduate studies. Post-graduate training in diagnostic imaging is available for chiropractors, after which they must pass a board-certified examination. A DACBR has passed an examination given by the American Chiropractic Board of Radiology (ACBR) and must fulfill the continuing education requirements to maintain their DACBR designation.
According to J. Todd Knudsen, DC, DACBR, president of the American Chiropractic College of Radiology (ACCR), you’re likely to encounter a DACBR in a variety of clinical and educational settings. In addition to performing and interpreting the results of advanced diagnostic imaging as a member of a larger healthcare team, DACBRs may also own and direct chiropractic clinics or specialized imaging centers. They may also teach in chiropractic or other colleges.
Knudsen explains, “The main difference between chiropractic radiology and medical radiology is in the areas of emphasis. Chiropractic radiologists are more like neuromusculoskeletal radiologists, and most medical radiologists are generalists. Another obvious difference is the fact that we are chiropractors and they are medical doctors.”
Becoming a DACBR involves 300 to 400 hours of training in the performance and interpretation of plain film radiography, with some additional training in advanced diagnostic imaging to better understand the reports provided by a medical radiologist. In all, a chiropractic radiologist will complete about 4,000 hours of training during their 3 to 4 year full-time residency.
In addition to the undergraduate courses that all chiropractors take in pathology, bone x-ray, soft tissue x-ray, CT, MRI, and sonography, those who wish to pursue a DACBR must take additional graduate training in bone pathology, radiation health safety, genitourinary imaging, chest imaging, gastrointestinal imaging and MRI.
Although a DACBR can read and interpret any sort of imaging, they specialize in imaging for the musculoskeletal system. The final reports are written in the same manner as that used by medical radiologists. Gary A. Longmuir, MAppSc, DC, DACBR, owner and director of Diagnostic X-Ray Consultation Services in Phoenix, AZ, says “I’d be hard-pressed to find differences between us and regular medical radiologists. It’s an integrated practice in which I interpret CT/MRI bone and joint radiology or musculoskeletal radiology, reading not just for chiropractors or DOs, but also for some MDs or even the occasional veterinarian in the area.”