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Try to read the tech

abita's picture
abita
Posts: 579
Joined: Dec 2017

Am I the only one who tries to "read" the tech when they help you out of the scan machine. I know they can't read the results like a radiologist or doctor, but still, every time, I am looking for every look of pity or smile as if they saw or didn't see something on my scan.

Yesterday was another pet scan to see if those foci cells are gone for the liver and to try to figure out if the lung nodules are cancer or scarring from a cold.

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 4759
Joined: Jan 2013

One time, my CT. Tech came back and said 'I need to take just a few more pictures, today'.  My stomach tied itself up in knots, and I just 'knew' that something was wrong. I mean, why would she need to take 'just a few more pictuers'?

Of course, all was well, but I had to wait a week to find out, and it was not a restful week. 

Thinking of you, as you enter the wiat period. And praying all will be well with you at your appointment.  - I'll let you interpret well, becasue we're all at different stages, and whereas my 'well' means NED, others may mean no growth or shrinkage. -

Tru

abita's picture
abita
Posts: 579
Joined: Dec 2017

Yes, there are different stages. Obvioulsy the best scenario is remission, those cells are gone, and the lung nodules are not cancer.

Thanks.

JanJan63's picture
JanJan63
Posts: 2482
Joined: Sep 2014

I do it, too. I'd be surprised if there's anyone that doesn't. Do they look like they feel sorry for me? Do they look concerned? Yes, I try to read their faces.

Jan

zx10guy
Posts: 195
Joined: Dec 2013

I don't put any stock in any of the facial expressions from a tech.  They're only trained to operate the equipment.  And when they ask for additional pictures or are looking at the image on the screen, they're just checking to see the pictures are coming out clear and correctly.  They don't/won't read into the image.  They may know some tell tale signs of some things which indicate abnormalities but that would be through any radiologist talking them through it.

Even radiologists have to do comparisons between previous scans and the current scan to make assessments.  The tech will not have previous scans available for comparison nor will they have time to do such comparisons as the total time from start to finish from when your scans are done is literally a few minutes for CT scans.

I bypass all of this by reading my own scans.  If you indulge yourself, asking for the scans on CD will include the reader software.  Then you can open up the scans yourself and take a look.  My previous oncologist walked me through what he was looking for on CT scans.  I do comparisons between my previous scan and the current one to see if there are differences.  PET scans are much easier as depending on the view you select, hot spots where the PET sees hypermetabolic activity will either be very dark spots or bright red spots.  You can even click on that area in the software which will give you the measured SUV number which also tells you how intense the collection of radioactive isotope concentration is.

And depending on where you go and what time you get the scans done, there is a high chance you can get your scan report that same day.  I schedule my scans for the morning and have always been able to get the radiologist report that afternoon.  You just have to call the office to see if it's ready and then go get it.

abita's picture
abita
Posts: 579
Joined: Dec 2017

My doctor wouldn't allow that, I am sure. The scans are only online after I have talked to him.

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 4759
Joined: Jan 2013

Are you in America? 

Your Doctor can't refuse. Scans are your property, your medical scans and you paid your dollar for them. 

I can walk away with my scans in hand, while they send copies to my Onc. 

When you get your next scan tell them at the front desk that you need a copy.  

Tru

zx10guy
Posts: 195
Joined: Dec 2013

Exactly what Tru said.  I'm dealing with the radiology office not the doctor.  I've always been able to leave with a copy of the scans burned on CD.  And then call back later to pick up the actual radiology report.  I've done this for years both at my current radiology office and at the hospital where I used to get my scans done.  Two different places with the same results.  I some times get a kick out of knowing my scan results before I even talk to my doctor or even before my doctor knows.

Lily Flower's picture
Lily Flower
Posts: 248
Joined: Jul 2017

Abita, you can ask for a copy of CD after the scan, they will burn it on the disk for you. Although you may have to wait 5-10 minutes for it but that's just fine by me. My surgeon and oncologist always remind me to get a copy of the CD and to bring it to them on my next appointments with them. However, the actual written report I can obtain from the patient portal is always 7-10 days which I like to read it from word to word. Now I just have to learn how to read the images. Lol

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6121
Joined: Feb 2009

It's terrible when we do that.  I'm thinking that they might know something if it so obvious but a lot maybe just do their job and leave it to the radiologist to read.  I'm not one to read the report either as it doesn't make sense to me.  Wishing you well.

Kim

zx10guy
Posts: 195
Joined: Dec 2013

Here's some more information about reading scans.  First, there's a reason a specialty exists for radiology where radiologists are trained specialized doctors and carry an MD after their name.  These doctors go to medical school for years to have the expertise to properly read scan images.  Do you really think a tech goes through the same amount of training and education?  Next, if you've ever seen all the scan images generated when have a scan done, there's a ton of images.  It does take some time for the radiologist to go through those images to see if there are any abnormalities or changes.  Certainly more than a few minutes a tech would have to go through the same number of images.  This is outside of having to do before and after comparisons with a previous scan.  And any changes noted, there would be a required measurement of any abnormality found.

With the above said, reading scans is almost an art as it's all up to visual reading and interpretation by doctors to determine if there is or is not something there.  Some times things are very obvious.  Some times not so.  This is the reason why the common advice is to get copies of your scans if you need a second opinion.  As the doctors involved in the second opinion may interpret the scans differently than your current team of doctors.  My current oncologist doesn't read the scans at all.  He relies totally on the radiologist report.  Whether this is good or bad is up for debate.  My previous oncologist would go through the scans with me.  And because he is afiliated with the hospital where I had my scans done, he could easily pull up the scan images from his computer.  He would go through the scans with me; both PET and CT.  He then discussed various things he was looking for.  This is how I know a little about what I'm looking at with the images and how to work the software.  Do I declare myself an expert?  No.  But it gives me some small level of comfort when I look at the scan images after having a scan done and before I get my hands on the official report.

So as I've said numerous times, spending days with anxiety about what your scans will show is totally unnecessary in most cases.  Call and ask for the report.  If all the medical jargon has you overwhelmed, just focus on the summary part where the radiologist will state if there are signs of recurrence/metastasis with any follow up recommendations.

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 4759
Joined: Jan 2013

But we do it, regardless.  For most of us, its just in our nature to worry.  

And I'm sure we all know the tech's don't have the skills, but we're still going to watch them, and think 'I saw a frown. Oh no!' 'cause its just what we do. 

My Oncologist doesn't read the scans either, but my Radiation Oncologist does, and he sits me in front of the computer and points things out to me. I mean every question I have gets answered, regardless of wether its Cancer related. I'm very curious, you see, and want to know what bits are what. He's a good man. A good Doctor. Patient with me, for sure. 

Tru

abita's picture
abita
Posts: 579
Joined: Dec 2017

Exactly. Human nature 

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6121
Joined: Feb 2009

It's human nature to watch people's expressions that's why some people enjoy just "people watching".  My oncologist didn't read scans either but my radiologist did.  It's something in our makeup that make people worry.  I'm a worrier by nature but know people that let things roll off them like water.  I'm not that type of person so telling me not to worry is like telling a bear not to - well you know in the woods. 

Kim

JanJan63's picture
JanJan63
Posts: 2482
Joined: Sep 2014

I think it's great that so many of you are in the states and are shown your information. I'm never shown anything, I'm just told. To be honest I want it that way. I don't want to see a picture of my cancer and have it seem more real. But I'm sure my husband would be very interested. He's kind of an analytical science type.

Jan

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