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Oval, egg or evidence?

Many radiologic technologists underestimate the role of patient communication and observation during treatment. Although this concept is included in the American Society of Radiologic Technologists and American Registry of Radiologic Technologists Code of Ethics, many radiographers only gather basic facts while obtaining a patient's history. Additionally, patients may be evasive or give incomplete answers, as in the following case.

During a routine shift in a Miami, Okla, emergency room, a student radiographer was assigned to perform a 5-view lumbar spine series. During the initial questioning of the 22-year old female patient, the following information was disclosed: lower back pain, no current pregnancy and no metal zipper or snaps on her clothing.

The lumbar series was completed without incident, until the films emerged from the processor.


Ten unusual oblong objects appeared in the lower lumbar region on each of the 5 exposed films. The density of the objects was similar to bone. The anteroposterior lumbar projection revealed a symmetric pattern to the objects that appeared to be stationary in the body. Could this be the source of her back pain?

After much discussion among staff members, the following possibilities were ruled out: artifacts from film handling or processing, debris on the hospital gown or clothing and internal foreign bodies such as swallowed objects.


The patient was questioned to gather additional information. Upon closer examination, it was discovered that she had worn a thermal band commonly used for pain relief under her clothing. These bands are composed of different magnetic alloys that, in theory, increase blood flow and raise the temperature of the area in contact with the device.

Thanks to Lynn Conklin, R.T.(R)(M), INTEGRIS Baptist Hospital, Miami, Okla.

Technical Query is a troubleshooting column that covers image acquisition and processing. This issue's column is edited by Krys Geissler, M.Ed., R. T. (R)(M). Ms. Geissler is a radiography instructor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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Title Annotation:TECHNICAL QUERY
Author:Geissler, Krys
Publication:Radiologic Technology
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2005
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