Friday, July 18, 2008

The eyes of a doctor

Today I had an MRI of my ankle. The technician wouldn't give me any info (I know she's not supposed to but I asked anyway) and the radiologist wasn't in when I was at the office. My appointment with the orthopedic surgeon is on Tuesday so I won't hear a thing about the results of the MRI until then. That's a long time to wait, knowing that someone, somewhere knows what's up with my ankle and what we need to do next.

So what's a girl to do? Search the Web and pretend to be a doctor, of course! This site is great for looking at MRI images of a normal ankle. By comparing my films to the images on that site, I was able to pick out which views were which on my films and I could see my peroneal tendons (peroneus brevis and peroneus longus, to be exact) in some of the views. As far as I could tell, they looked just like the pictures of the normal ankle. However, the text I was reading at that site and others mentioned all sorts of things I should be noticing about "low signal" and "normal pockets of fluid" that meant nothing when I actually looked at the films.

How many images must a person look at before feeling confident that they know what's normal and what's not? And how does someone know what to look for in each part of the body? Even if I saw 50 images of ankles and started to have a feel for what's normal and what's abnormal, what if someone showed me an elbow or a head or a gut? I would be back to square one, knowing that I didn't know anything instead of just thinking that after 50 images I had some sort of a clue.

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