One thing I’ve truly become interested in this year has been radiography. It’s such an amazing concept to be able to take a speechless patient and observe their ailments. Radiographs are something I once took for granted as being just a mundane part of the basic workup on some veterinary patients. I am currently working as a radiology assistant at the MSU Emergency Hospital, and my recent experiences have really put this diagnostic modality into perspective.
Take a second and just ponder digital radiography. Really, stop and think about all the technology behind those convenient pictures that often have a significant impact on the treatment of patients. They can tell you whether or not it’s cancer, or whether it’s broken, or whether everything looks okay. Now imagine an animal is presented to you, and perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to localize the problem but need more detail. Well, imagine radiographs were not available, neither film nor digital. What’s next? There’s something wrong, but you don’t know exactly what and are unable to isolate the problem with a physical exam and history. See the point?
Sure, medical professionals have been taking “x-rays” for a long time—it’s nothing new. Having worked primarily with film systems before vet school, I sincerely appreciate digital rads. Within a second of exposure, the image is available on a screen. No development time is needed, and even more convenient is the fact that you can enhance the image to concentrate on a particular feature. From a safety standpoint, I appreciate being able to avoid additional exposures to pets and hospital staff.
Realizing the utility of the technology at hand (that I once took for granted) contributes to my passion for veterinary medicine. In a way, it makes me feel like I have another option to do a better job of helping animals. As a second-year student now, I’m beginning to pull some of the subtle nuances together to work toward forming diagnoses and treatment plans. It finally feels like all of the endless studying is finally coming together, and that is the most rewarding part.