Antiquated terms and things

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Dr. Phillips is a Professor of Radiology, Director of Head and Neck Imaging, at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York–Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. He is a member of the Applied Radiology Editorial Advisory Board.

One of the cool things about being just on the far side of 50 (and I am SO there) is that you remember just enough crap from when you were younger to make you interesting, without yet being sad and pathetic. I do not want to go into the things that are bad about this post-midlife hump. There are far too many. But the good ones can be really good (sometimes). Your collection of arcane facts and remembrances can occasionally be entertaining. I was thinking of this in relation to the title of this column. There are those among us who still remember what the term means. How about some of these?

Flat plate of the abdomen. Not curved, or parabolic. Got to be flat. I used to wonder why there wasn’t a flat plate of the chest. Or a flat plate of the skull. I guess you’d need a round plate of the skull.

Pneumoencephalogram. I saw a post-op head the other day and casually mentioned it looked like a pneumoencephalogram. The resident was writing down what I said, and stopped for a minute. “Huh?” I described the test. I might as well have been describing a scene from a Wes Craven movie. “Whoa. You did that to people?” “Well, no, I didn’t. But I’ve seen them. They are historical.” “Yeah, like bloodletting.” Ouch.

Yeah. Wet read. At some point, a film was deemed important enough to earn a glance before it was properly dried. Which was hazardous. It risked ruining the radiograph. And, in those days, an infinite amount of digital copies were not available. One of my mentors had read trauma skull, chest, and abdomen films in Vietnam and reviewed them out of a processor by the helipad. That, my friends, is urgent. I get requests for “wet reads” on somewhat less important films. Sinus films before a person leaves for a 6-month cruise. Right. I guess I could soak down the PACS monitor. “Wet read? Well, I did just get out of the shower.”

Tomos? NMR? In years to come, perhaps our trainees will regale their pupils with stories of “CT.” “Yeah, we radiated people to see inside them.”

“Whoa. You did that to people?”

“Well, no. I didn’t. But I’ve seen them.”

Keep doing good things. Mahalo.

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Antiquated terms and things.  Appl Radiol. 

October 28, 2011

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