Okay maybe that’s a stretch, but it will make for a good analogy. One thing my father taught me and now I teach my boys is to choose the right tool for the job. You don’t dig a hole with a rake and you can’t cut trees with a broom. To most people those things seem obvious. Now, I’ve simplified the concept greatly, mostly for my benefit, as I am no more a farmer than you are a radiologist. But a radiologist does know about the tools that lie in their workshed.
Just as in farming and carpentry, you identify the problem then pick the right tool or combination of tools to hopefully get an answer and reach a solution. On November 8, 1895, Wilhelm Roentgen discovered the X-ray. To this day, it still remains the go to, just like the hammer, being fundamental to the toolbox. X-rays helps us identify fractures and basic soft tissue injuries, like lots of fluid in the joint or metallic debris. Ultrasound excels in evaluating blood vessels and monitoring the development of growing babies. CT scan is the workhorse of every Emergency Room. A radiologist can use CT to look for emergent, life-threatening traumatic injuries from car accidents, acute appendicitis as a source of belly pain, and rapid brain stroke screening. MRI is superior at soft tissue characterization. MRIs are used to look at cartilage, tendons and ligaments holding our joints together, such as knees, shoulders, and hips. MRI can also see the brain and spinal cord in exquisite detail looking for causes to headaches and pinched nerves.
Where farming and radiology may differ is in the outcomes. I imagine that the end goal of farming is to produce food. While the end goal in radiology may be to find an answer to the patients complaints, a lot of the time we may not find an answer but can exclude serious conditions, such as cancer, infections, and other disease states. So while our patients may not always get an answer as to why their breast or back hurts, or why they get headaches, we can tell them that they do not have cancer, there is no fracture, and their brain looks normal for their age.
So what’s the point to my rambling? I clearly am not a farmer, but I do own four acres and plan on developing a one acre micro farm for family and friends. The point is I don’t know a darn thing about where to start only that I know where I want to end up. I have a question and am in need of a solution. I will be reaching out to all my friends for help, because to me they are the experts. Well, I am the expert in Radiology and I know my tools. Many clinicians in the community have my personal cell phone number and I have theirs. In complicated cases we work together in a collaborative teamwork fashion to analyze your problem to select the right imaging modality in an effort to provide the highest care to you, our patients.