A brief history of modern medical imaging, absurdist yet accurate

“The one thing Democrats and Republicans agree about is mammograms: We need more, not less, screening. Meanwhile, screening has become radiology’s raison d’être, the treatment effect, the proof that imaging saves lives, the link between the radiologist in a dark room and the people.”

So writes Saurabh Jha, MD, a teaching radiologist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, in a Medscape opinion piece that is as entertaining as it is enlightening.

Tongue planted firmly in check—yet with serious concerns clearly close at heart—Jha traces the march of his beloved but evidently maddening medical specialty from the days when the radiologist was “the ventriloquist to the chest x-ray” to now-ish, when “we despise [medical imaging] because it tells us that clinical medicine sucks for not delivering the utopian precision to which we believe we’re entitled.”

Along the way Jha asserts that CT was adopted not because radiographs weren’t good enough but because CT was too good, MRI is cursed by its own cleverness, advanced imaging is the poster child of waste that both dares and scares doctors—and “cars are getting better even if they’re still not flying.”

It’s a worthwhile review of modern radiology and a sagacious, grin-inducing slice of creative expression. Savor the whole thing