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Adding a Face to the Image – The Personal Side of Medical Imaging

If there’s one thing that most of us who dread the surgeon’s knife and other invasive procedures should be thankful for, it’s the invention of medical imaging techniques that allow physicians and other healthcare professionals to diagnose our illnesses and ailments without having to open up our bodies. X-rays, scans, MRIs, mammograms, ultrasounds – where would we be without these and other similar techniques today? For starters, we’d have more deaths due to unscreened cancers and other diseases, we’d be at a loss to repair bones and ligaments that are broken or torn, and in general, we’d know less about what was going on inside our bodies.

Medical images are read by experts – these radiologists give their opinion based on what the pictures tell them. A recent study based in Israel has found that radiologists tend to provide accurate conclusions from medical images when pictures of the patients’ faces are included with the X-rays or scans. While no medical explanation has been offered for this finding, experts say that it may be because the radiologists tend to empathize more with the patients when they know what they look like. Putting a face to the random bones and images on the screen apparently seems to help them perform their jobs better.

While this area does pose interesting questions and offers scope for further research, James Thrall, chairman of the American College of Radiology’s board of chancellors, feels that it’s not a viable possibility in the USA because of privacy laws. Besides, he is of the opinion that adding a photograph to the scan or X-ray is a novelty to radiologists, and that once the fascination with this new method fades, they’re bound to go back to feeling as apathetic as they used to when there were no faces to go with the bones.

Whatever the outcome of this study or whether future studies reach the same or a different conclusion, there’s no doubting the fact that medical imaging has come a long way over the last few decades. And thanks to these innovations, the human race is living lives that are better in both quantity and quality.

This article is contributed by Sarah Scrafford, who regularly writes on the topic of Radiology Technician Classes. She invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address: sarah.scrafford25@gmail.com. Please visit Sarah Scrafford's websites for more information:


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