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A-Z of Dr Gareth's casebook.

Byline: Dr Gareth Smith

Mis for an MRI scan. My doctor has referred me to hospital to get a scan on my back. Can you tell me what it is?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. This works by putting the body into a very strong magnetic field and passing high frequency radio waves through it. A computer then analyses what happens to the waves and creates a detailed picture of the inside of the body. It is much safer than a CT scan and is very useful when the doctor is looking at soft tissue such as muscle, nerves and cartilage.

Nis for nails. My nails have become very brittle and instead of being rounded have a dip in the middle. Is there anything I can do?

You have a condition called koilonychia - or thin, brittle, spoon-shaped nails. It is relatively common and can be associated with anaemia. Go to your doctor to have your blood count taken and if necessary start taking some iron tablets.

O is for organ donor card. I carry one of these, but will it guarantee my organs will be used after I die?

Donor cards are not legally binding and it is up to your next of kin whether they consent to your organs being used. Organs are only taken if the donor is on a ventilator at the time of death and there is no recordable brain activity, so it may not be possible if you do not die in hospital. Let your family know you want to donate your organs and carry your donor card at all times.

Pis for piles. I suffer from them very badly. Is there anything I can do to help ease the pain and embarrassment?

Haemorrhoids can be very painful and can lead to significant blood loss. Try a stool softener such as Lactulose that you can buy in the chemist. Also use anaesthetic cream and suppositories such as Anusol. Another trick is to fill a balloon with water and freeze it overnight then use it as a cold compress that will help shrink the haemorrhoid and relieve symptoms.

Qis for Quinsy. I suffered a sore throat which my doctor said was Quinsy. I have had my tonsils removed, but I am worried the pain will come back. Can you get it twice?

Quinsy is an abscess that forms between the tonsils and wall of the throat. It is very sore and can make the sufferer very ill. Often the patient requires either intravenous antibiotics or surgical drainage of the abscess. If your tonsils were removed then the infection will not come back.
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Title Annotation:Body And Soul
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 13, 2002
Words:437
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