Easy one today! I thought I would give everyone a break as you have all been working very hard on the MiWord of the day in the past weeks.
So, what does radio have to do with medical imaging? What a great question! The origin of the root word “Radio” is radiant energy. The radio you immediately think of is the one that is attached to your ear most of the time and has a DJ who selects music to play for your entertainment – along with ads to pay for the station’s bills! The use of “radio” to describe this form of wireless communication comes from the word radiotelegraphy.
How about if we were simply interested in a medical picture produced by radiant energy? Well you would end up with a radiograph AKA an x-ray! We talked about that word here. Do you see the trend? How about a picture produced by radiant energy in the visible light range of the electromagnetic spectrum? A photograph. Cool.
OK now suppose you are an MD working in the emergency department and someone presents with a lung disorder. What do you do? Generally, you order a chest radiograph. As you zap your patient with x-rays you expect that most of them will pass through the chest area – that is mostly filled with air – unchecked and will proceed to expose the film (or trigger the detector) resulting in a dark area. However, if the lungs become filled with abnormal substances more of the x-rays are blocked and result in a lighter (whiter) radiograph. What would you be looking for?
1- Pus – a combination of bacteria and white blood cells as seen with pneumonia.
2- Edema – fluid that leaks into the lungs as seen with heart failure.
3- Hemorrhage – bleeding into the lung cavity as seen with trauma.
4- a solid mass – as seen in lung cancer.
Today, we have to use “Radio” in a sentence (see rules here). Easy! Here are two examples to help you along:
Serious: Bob, you will need to remove your radio from your person before entering the MRI. No metal objects are permissible in the room.
Less serious: I went for a radiograph today and all they did was have me stand in a room by myself and that was it! What a relief. I thought for a moment I was scheduled for a radio-graft…!
Have a listen to my favorite Radiohead to decompress and…
… I’ll see you in the blogosphere,
So what the heck is ionizing radiation? Well consider the following conundrum about x-rays. They can:
1- cause cancer
2- be used to detect cancer.
3- be used to treat cancer.
Whaaat? How does that work? We use the term ionizing when the radiation has sufficient energy to detach electrons from molecules causing them to become chemically reactive ions.
The name atom means “indivisable” and are incredibly small. They are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons with about 99.9% of its mass concentrated in the nucleus that holds a positive charge. A surrounding negatively charged cloud of electrons makes up the difference and the atom stays together due to the attraction between the two.
OK, so here is the rub: if an atom gains or loses an electron it becomes an ion and generally results in a very chemically reactive substance. This process to produce an ion can be achieved by many ways but one of the most important is electromagnetic radiation (we’ve talked about this already here). Radioactive materials such as radium emit ionizing radiation as does x-ray tubes. There is even such a thing as cosmic radiation (Yup, we talked about that here!).
Now x-rays produce photons which are the same particles that make up visible light but at a much shorter wavelength and higher energy. When they penetrate through a solid object they will most often simply pass through. However, if they pass by close enough to an electron they can transfer their energy and in the process knock it out orbit producing an ion. Also, the more dense the object the more often the photons are blocked from travelling through resulting in a differential effect on a film or sensor placed on the opposite side. This is how we are able to see inside the body using x-rays.
The problem about ionizing radiation is that the resulting chemically reactive ions can result in DNA damage. Often the cell can repair itself resulting in no permanent damage. Other times, however, permanent damage occurs and can result in cell death (a good thing if they are cancerous cells) or DNA mutations that can in turn lead to the promotion of cancer – bummer.
Now on to using ionizing in a sentence today (not sure about the rules? See here):
Serious example – Bob, don’t stand too close to the x-ray machine. You wouldn’t want to be exposed to ionizing radiation that could damage the DNA in your cells…
Less serious – You wouldn’t believe what happened to me at work today! I was at the photocopy machine getting ready to change the toner cartridge and Bill from sales said:”Let me do that for you, Honey”. He is so ionizing or patronizing or whatever. He makes me mad…
Listen to Just Because by Raygun to get ready for the weekend and I’ll see you back in the blogosphere soon.
Do you ever hear a good song on the radio, catch some of the lyrics, and try to type in those lyrics into Google or Youtube to find that particular song you rocked out to on the way home? When that happens and you Google it, do you ever count how many options you need to pass until you hit the right song?
Yes, you are not the only one, many people use Google to further explore some of the things they have come across throughout daily encounters. For each instance google is used, whether it be for a song or for neuroscience research and analysis, one thing remains in common: keywords.
Keywords are essential when searching for various types of information, and the options appearing on any search engine are dependent on the keywords given. How does one establish appropriate keywords for a search engine entry?
For instance, if one wants to find out more about medical imaging, perhaps using those exact words would give one a head start in finding information. If one wants to find out about the modalities of medical imaging, typing in ‘modalities of medical imaging’ may also be helpful as well. The tricky part becomes when searching for specific uses and studies of the use of those modalities, in medical papers. In any medical search engine, like PubMed, keywords can make or break a search, and are very specific, as the many sections of medical imaging involve many specific factors and details that differ from each study. So next time you decide to search something, whether it be as general as ‘medical imaging’ or specific as ‘cost effective analysis of CT scans,’ just remember that those keywords may give you what you need, or lead you to a place you don’t want.
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What happens when you put a famous pop superstar with various Billboard number one hit singles as an endorser for a medical field involving teeth, mouth and gum surgeries?
A Katy Perry-odontist!
And no, I am not insinuating the likelihood of Ms. Perry giving up her “Hard Candy” tour and making her way down to Harvard Med for a doctor of dental surgery specializing in periodontistry, but in reality, when researching, there are a lot of weird combinations of research that actually lead to a plausible conclusion!
Take cost effectiveness of MRIs, CT scans and ultrasounds. There are many variables pertaining to which machine is more cost effective, but in order to find that out, the research being done with regards to the cost involves stepping OUTSIDE THE BOX and figuring out unique key factors that all contribute to the cost, timing, and effectiveness. One must observe not only the actual cost of the machine, but also the condition the patient is in and the situation of the effected area. In order to look at that, maybe some family history must be dug up. And there you go! A whole research perspective on family history of certain patients, just to figure out cost effectiveness of a certain machine. Weird combination of research if you think about it, but in the end, very effective in reaching somewhat of a conclusion to the research question, just like the medical imaging equipment should be doing in the first place! Do not underestimate the lengths in research it takes to solve the question at hand, and always think outside the box, because you never know what you will find, and someday, maybe Katy Perry will open up her own clinic, and sooth patients with her very own soundtrack!
Keep Researching and Singing,
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Comment on what you think are weird research combinations if you dare!
Interviews, the most loved and hated type of activity for all, from the powerful, skeptical, God-like interviewers seeking information to the innocent, intimidated and incapsulated interviewees, seeking a break. So many emotions happen when two people meet for the first time, in the interview setting. I definitely know what it’s like to be put in the hot seat, as the one word I felt coming into my own interview with the University of Toronto for this program – terrifying. I was completely terrified. New offices in the heart of Toronto, I felt like a small town girl moving to the big city alone. It was almost a coming of age experience – one small step into the building, yet one giant step for the adolescent-adulthood phase I am now transitioning into.
As I went up the elevator and pressed the fourth floor button, I almost could not contain myself. But the scariest part of the whole ordeal was probably the moment before I found the right office. Of course, I stumble into the wrong office, and when asking the woman working there for Dr. Tyrrell, the interviewer, when I saw the look on the woman’s face that I was in the wrong place, my heart dropped. Of course, when finally meeting with Dr. Tyrrell and discussing the program, all of this fear and anxiety disappeared at the drop of a hat, but the point is, interviews are a type of research, so research can be quite adventurous!
Stay Adventurous and Keep Reading!
How in the world does someone actually get to researching something, it seems too complicated! Well, fear not my friends, research comes in all letter shapes and information sizes! For a beginner researcher, an easy and effective start would be to go to a library. The library holds a haven of information, from fictional stories for experience to non fictional magazines, dictionaries and novels. The library is a great place to start looking for answers, the librarians are able to guide anyone to the right factual source of data that will provide good information, and no, they aren’t from the dinosaur era (even though you may think you’re in that era while searching through books)..
Many educational researchers use books and even textbooks to help with research projects, papers and various journals. I know I can always trust my school librarian, she always gave me the best books and information, even if she didn’t remember my name.
Even though libraries are ‘so 90s,’ it wouldn’t kill you to walk into one, you definitely will learn something.
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With every step taken toward the den of knowledge, there has to be that one click that doesn’t really bring you to where you wanted to go. I’ve had my fair share of research-gone-wrongs, as I like to call them. For instance, I learned the valuable lesson of not to use Twitter as the most accurate research hub, the hard way. Sure, a tweet here or there seems harmless, but birds sometimes do bite. As I innocently went on twitter’s homepage, looking at various tweets from people I follow, a tweet, “OBAMA HAS BEEN KILLED,” caught my attention. Shocked, I immediately text my dad, who then reassures me this catastrophe has not happened, and to check if I put my eye contacts in for that day, because Obama is fine in the oval office, but Osama Bin Laden has been captured and killed by the United States, the headlining news of the hour. Moral of the story? Read the news, from the news, and do not trust any ‘.com’ website that gets into your reach. The difference a letter makes….
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