Radiology Rotations

Residents are assigned to rotations at either the University of New Mexico (UNM) or the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center (VAMC). Approximately 3/4 of the total residency experience is at UNM, with 1/4 at the VAMC.  All radiology faculty working with residents hold full appointments at UNM, and many faculty spend time at both institutions.

Most UNM rotations take place at the main University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH), with Outpatient Body Imaging and Breast Imaging rotations at the nearby UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) and Outpatient Surgery and Imaging Services (OSIS), respectively.  The UNM Cancer Center and OSIS are interconnected and lie within walking distance or a short drive or shuttle ride from UNMH.  Examinations performed at any UNM-affiliated facility, including UNMH, OSIS, Sandoval Regional Medical Center (SRMC), and Carrie Tingley Hospital (CTH), are interpretable from any UNMH, OSIS, or UNM Cancer Center reading room via the integrated PACS system.

Residents receive comprehensive diagnostic, interventional, and therapeutic radiologic training via the following rotations:

Diagnostic Radiology Rotations

Inpatient: At UNMH, residents work with attending radiologists to interpret abdominopelvic exams performed for inpatient evaluations. These examinations address the complexities of acutely ill and post-operative patients.

Outpatient: This reading room is embedded at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center, facilitating consultation with referring physicians and a collaborative approach to patient care. Residents work with an attending radiologists to interpret abdominal CT/MRI exams performed at the OSIS and the outpatient examinations performed at UNMH.

VAMC:  Residents work alongside attending radiologists to interpret thoracic and abdominopelvic body imaging studies, including radiographs, ultrasound, CT and MRI. 

These rotations, at OSIS give residents experience in all aspects of breast imaging, including digital screening and diagnostic mammography, breast MRI and ultrasound, stereotactic biopsy, ultrasound- and MR-guided breast biopsy, and wire localizations for surgical biopsy. Breast MRI is performed on the Siemens 3-Tesla MR scanner at OSIS. This multimodality rotation ensures compliance with FDA requirements for independent interpretation of mammography upon completion of the residency program.

During these rotations, residents work with attending radiologists in interpretation of chest radiographs, CT, and MR on patients in the ICU, inpatient, and outpatient settings.  Advanced training includes pulmonary artery and coronary CT angiographic, high-resolution chest CT, and cardiac MRI studies.

On this rotation, residents work with attending radiologists to interpret non-neurologic radiographic, CT, and MR exams performed in the UNM Emergency Department. UNMH is the only Level I trauma center in New Mexico and receives high-acuity patients by ambulance and helicopter from the entire state and surrounding regions.  The Emergency Radiology reading room is located directly adjacent to the Emergency Department, facilitating direct communication with Emergency Medicine and Trauma Surgery physicians.

Residents become proficient in performing all types of non-interventional fluoroscopic examinations, including single contrast and biphasic examinations of the alimentary tract, fistulography, contrasted genitourinary tract studies, and placement of enteric feeding tubes. The Department of Radiology collaborates with the Department of Speech Pathology for swallowing studies.

Working one-on-one with attending physicians and fellows, residents actively participate in all types of angiography and interventional procedures.

  • Pre-procedure evaluation of patients, including obtaining informed consent, review of pertinent studies, procedure planning, patient monitoring, and short and long-term follow-up are completed with supervision.
  • Studies performed include arteriography, venography, angioplasty, stent placement, biliary intervention, genitourinary procedures, liver and renal transplant evaluation and treatment, TIPS (transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt) placement, thrombolysis, embolization, vertebroplasty, spine injections, IVC filter placement, central venous access, and biopsies and drainages under fluoroscopic, CT, and US guidance.  
  • Oncologic interventions include TACE (trans-arterial chemoembolization), radiofrequency ablation, cryoablation, and Yttrium-90 microsphere therapies. 
  • Neurointerventional procedures include intracranial aneurysm coiling and embolization of intracranial masses and vascular lesions.

These rotations at UNMH and the VAMC teach the diagnosis of musculoskeletal diseases, including arthropathies, neoplasia, and trauma through interpretation of radiographs, CT, MRI. Residents learn techniques for joint aspiration and intra-articular contrast injection for MR and CT arthrography.

During neuroradiology rotations at UNMH and the VAMC, residents learn anatomy, pathology, and differential diagnoses of diseases of the spine, brain, head, and neck. This rotation covers technical aspects of CT and MR imaging, as well as myelograms. Residents attend weekly combined neuroimaging conferences with the neurology and neurosurgery departments. Neurovascular procedures are performed as part of Interventional Radiology rotation.

These rotations at UNMH and the VAMC provide broad training in general, cardiovascular, pediatric, PET, and therapeutic nuclear medicine, including PET/CT and SPECT/CT technology. Nuclear medicine therapy training includes using radioiodine (I-131) for hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer, with exposure to other advanced nuclear medicine therapies, such as Ra-223 chloride therapy for painful osseous metastases and Lu-177 DOTATATE for neuroendocrine tumors.

The pediatric radiology section performs and interprets imaging for the Childrens’ Hospital of New Mexico and Carrie Tingley Hospital. Residents work with pediatric attending radiologists to interpret radiographs, fluoroscopy, ultrasound, CT, and MRI. A rotation through pediatric orthopedic radiology offers residents the opportunity to learn about musculoskeletal diseases in children.  The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit staff, ward staff, housestaff, and medical students round with pediatric radiology to review in-house patient exams and to discuss imaging strategies.

During this rotation, residents train in the interpretation of ultrasound examinations of the neck, abdomen, and pelvis, as well as spend time with the ultrasonographers learning ultrasound imaging techniques. Residents learn to perform ultrasound-guided thyroid biopsies.