Wet Read: What they say...

By C. Douglas Phillips, MD, FACR
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Dr. Phillips is a Professor in the Departments of Radiology, Neurosurgery, and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, and the Director of the Division of Neuro radiology in the Department of Radiology, University of Virginia Health Systems, Charlottesville, VA. He is also a member of the editorial board of this journal.

It's July! That time of the year when all smart folks hunker down and do their best to stay well for at least 3 or 4 months. You do not want to be in the hospital with interns who still delight in calling themselves "Dr.Whoever" at all times. No first names, please. I graduated!

One piece of wisdom gained over the years in radiology is how to say something. We, as radiologists, create a word picture (our report) of the findings on the images we review and apply serious mental firepower to the words we choose. It is hard work. Honestly. Mental work is among the hardest kind, they tell me. Lots of glucose burned in that big old piece of tissue living between our ears. Early on in our careers we say way, way too much. We can't seem to just call things what they are because we: 1) don't have the experience yet to know that for sure, and 2) aren't sure the old geezer reading out with us knows what the hell he's talking about, at least not yet. But, with time and accumulated knowledge of what is and what isn't, reports get thinner and more to the point. Unless, of course, we have no earthly idea what the hell we're looking at and talking about.

I've gained a bit of insight as to what residents, fellows, and radiologists in general mean when they put certain statements in a radiology report. The surprising thing to me is that so few radiologists have found useful careers in politics, lobbying, or sales. For the uninitiated, I'd like to offer this translation chart. Feel free to use it, unless you're a lawyer. And, if you're a lawyer, who's reading this to you? Ha ha!

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Wet Read: What they say....  Appl Radiol. 

July 07, 2008
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