Medical imaging is a routine part of healthcare. Most people receive an x-ray at least once in their lives, while more serious injuries or ailments may necessitate an MRI or CT scan. Some medical imaging, such as ultrasounds during pregnancy and mammograms for women over a certain age, are even considered to be the medical standard, but sometimes these tests reveal much more. Indeed, whether the diagnostic imaging used was standard or emergent, medical imaging can be lifesaving, as these celebrities can attest.
Healing Lady Gaga’s Hip
While on her “Born This Way Ball” tour, Lady Gaga found herself suffering from severe hip pain. The pain was so severe that the tour was canceled halfway through. But what was behind the issue? When a doctor ordered a hip MRI, they found that her hip bone was seriously degraded and the cartilage surrounding the joint was largely detached, among other significant issues. Lady Gaga was lucky, though. By catching the injury at that moment, she was able to avoid a full hip replacement and a full year away from the stage.
Many different medical professionals contributed to getting Lady Gaga back on stage, including the doctor who ordered the MRI, the medical imaging technician responsible for running the MRI, the diagnostic radiologist who interpreted the image, and the physical therapists who helped her rebuild her strength and function. Healthcare is a team sport, and even something as seemingly simple as a hip injury takes a team to identify and treat.
Sheryl Crow Speaks Out About Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, and the average woman has a lifetime breast cancer risk of 13%, meaning 1 in 8 women will develop some form of breast cancer. That’s significant, and while prevention would obviously be preferable, our best tool in the fight against breast cancer right now is early detection, which is why breast cancer survivor Sheryl Crow advocates for annual mammograms.
Many women avoid mammograms because they are uncomfortable, and those without a family history of breast cancer often feel justified in doing so. Skipping or delaying these tests, however, can mean the disease is caught much later, making it more difficult to treat. A few minutes of discomfort is worth it if the price is your future.
It’s worth noting that for many breast cancer patients, time spent in radiology doesn’t end with diagnosis. Rather, in addition to monitoring for potential spread, some breast cancer patients also undergo radiation therapy to treat their tumors. This is performed by radiation oncologists and radiation therapists, rather than medical imaging specialists.
Medical imaging specialists play a key role in diagnosing conditions as disparate as broken bones and osteoporosis and breast or brain cancer, and they also perform many other tests designed primarily to guide other treatments such as identifying spinal abnormalities before surgery or diagnosing pneumonia.
This is skilled, technical work, and medical imaging specialists walk alongside patients during some of the most frightening times in their lives. Underrecognized for their contributions to healthcare, they deserve a round of applause for their critical work.