Thursday, 29 May 2014

First Year Commenting

Bone metastasis of a bronchial carcinoma in the tibia.

Stardate: 92012.11

Today was my spinal tutorial session with my lecturer practitioner/clinical tutor, which ended up turning into a general tutorial session, giving us the opportunity to ask questions on anything we need help with. In the first half we took some x-rays, mainly lumbar spines and pelvic examinations. In the second half, we talked about image commenting, which was one of our final exams, and also makes up part of our clinical portfolio.

Basically, we take an image, any image, and describe what we see. Easy, right? Well, not always, but the process seems simple enough, which goes a little something like this:
  • Check the patient's clinical details - how old are they? What are their symptoms? 
  • Is the image, abnormal, possibly abnormal or normal?
  • Examine the general appearance of the bone
  • Trace the bone's cortex and density for any irregularities
  • Has the trabecular pattern been disturbed?
  • Give a detailed account of the abnormality seen
  • Examine the joint spaces and soft tissue
  • Are there any artefacts on the image?
I'll use the above image as an example, although I don't know the clinical details. Let's say the patient is a 29 year-old male, with severe pain around the tibia, for 3 months.
- The above image is definitely abnormal.
- The bone's cortex has not been disrupted, and the bone density appears normal. The trabecular pattern has not been disrupted.
- There are two radiolucent (the dark patch within the bone) area on the proximal end of the tibial shaft, visible on both projections, on the posterior and anterior tibial aspects.
- The joint space appears within normal limits, and the there is no soft tissue swelling
- There are no artefacts on the image.

This is a basic "comment", and as I found out, this image displays bone metastases.

Bone metastases, is a class of cancer metastases that is the result of primary tumour invasion of bone. Metastasis is the spread of cancer from one organ or part to another. Bone-originating cancers like osteochondroma for example, are rare. These metastases form solid masses, and bone is one of the most common metastasis location. 

Bone metastases can cause severe pain, bone fractures, spinal cord compression, and other major clinical concerns. These symptoms are caused by:
  • acidosis - increased acidity. Osteoclasts (bone cells that reabsorb bone tissue) generate extracellular protons, which lower the pH level.
  • bone restructuring - the uncoupled regulation of osteoclasts and osteoblasts (bone cells that form bone tissue) leads to bone malformation. Malformed bones are unable to withstand normal day-to-day mechanical stresses (e.g. weight bearing), leading to fractures, spinal cord compression and instability.
Anyway, this is post is getting long enough, and I've got dinner to make for myself. I hope this post has given you some insight into how we "examine" an image, in it's most basic form, and it's actually one of the fun parts of being a radiographer. True, there is a lot of terminology to get your head around, but once you have, everything sort of clicks into place! Tomorrow's my half-day and I'm once more in general, so hopefully I'll get the rest of my unaided examinations signed off.

LLAP guys!

References
  1. Bone Metastasis of a Bronchial Carcinoma in Tibia, n.d. photograph, viewed 29 May 2014 <http://www.mevis-research.de/~hhj/Lunge/imabc/BCKnMetb41_2.JPG>.

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