Combining patient photos with imaging improves diagnosis

December 2nd, 2008 - 4:30 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Dec 2 (IANS) Combining a patient’s photo with imaging results may yield a more exact interpretation of his or her condition, according to a study.”Our study emphasises approaching the patient as a human being and not as an anonymous case study,” said study co-author Yehonatan N. Turner, radiology resident at Shaare Zedek Medical Centre (SZMC) in Jerusalem.

A physician orders imaging exams like MRI or Computed Tomography (CT), and the radiologist interprets the results, never having met the patient.

Technological advances have further distanced the radiologist from the patient. For example teleradiology enables them to view images from remote locations.

Researchers set out to determine if the addition of a patient’s photograph to the file would affect how radiologists interpreted the results, said a SZMC release.

For the study, 318 patients referred for CT agreed to be photographed prior to the exam. The images of the patients were added to their files in the hospital’s Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS), a network for storage and retrieval of medical images. The photograph appeared automatically when a patient’s file was opened.

After interpreting the results of the exams, 15 radiologists were given questionnaires to gather data about their experience. All 15 radiologists admitted feeling more empathy towards the patients after viewing their photos.

More importantly, the results showed that radiologists provided a more meticulous reading of medical image results when a photo of the patient accompanied the file.

All 15 radiologists agreed that the inclusion of a photograph in a patient’s file should be adopted into routine practise. The photos can also be included in long-distance teleradiology practices.

These findings were presented on Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

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