New Toys

By C. Douglas Phillips, MD, FACR

Dr. Phillips is a Professor of Radiology, Director of Head and Neck Imaging, at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York–Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. He is a member of the Applied Radiology Editorial Advisory Board.


“Ah, I see you have the machine that goes ping. This is my favorite. You see we lease it back from the company we sold it to and that way it comes under the monthly current budget and not the capital account.”

—From Monty Python, “The Meaning of Life”

I would imagine if we were to group medical specialties by their love of gadgets, radiologists would rule. I previously said this about coffee consumption (which I still firmly believe), and had some push back. I will accept none about gadgets. This is a deep and seriously ingrained love. Many of us were physics majors. We loved lasers, magnets, computers, monitors, things that turned on and hummed or went “ping.” And even if you weren’t a physics gearhead, you were a gearhead nonetheless. We had the best stereos, new turntables with very cool cartridges, quickly moved to new tape formats, bought CDs the day they arrived (remember how cool that was?), and had big speakers and loved things that lit up. We wanted cars with lots of instruments. We got cell phones when they needed a briefcase and an antenna! No kidding, I had one in my car that needed 2 brick-sized components under the seat. But I HAD to have it. First one on the block.

Computers? Same thing. We had to get a new one as soon as possible. When a new processor listed a speed with a character we were unfamiliar with (remember looking up giga and tera?) we just bought them. iPads? Who cared if it didn’t have a use? Get one. Cameras, video games, laser pointers, cruiser drives, Blu-ray, digital thermometers — we are shameless.

I know radiologists who live for equipment calibration, who attend RSNA and walk through the technical exhibits salivating, who do their own 3D recons for no reimbursement. So, with the slowdown of the economy, and falling reimbursements, health care reform, and changes in referrals, what is happening to radiology equipment?

Yeah, I know. Less of it. Smaller scanners. Sometimes cheaper ones. It cannot possibly dim my enthusiasm for any and all new gadgets, though.

Is it just me, or do you agree there is a new-car smell applied to a new CT or MR? Sounds, lights, and motors. And one that goes ping. That’s my favorite.

Ain’t radiology grand? Mahalo.

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New Toys.  Appl Radiol. 

April 28, 2011

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