November 3, 2012

An MRI in Delphi

Radiologists are the oracles of medicine.  In the shadowy depths of the reading room, the team crowds close to see them read the prophecy of scans and x-rays.

The neuroradiologist's voice is soft, accented, with the exotic cadence of his homeland layered underneath his soothsaying.  He hovers the computer mouse across the screen, delineating shapes in the puddles of gray and scrying injury and contusion among the shadows.

Two thousand years ago, he would have cut open the belly of a bird or a rabbit, watching the spill of entrails and predicting life or death.  Now, the organs he studies are human and still contained within the abdomen.  His hands are clean, not covered in blood, but his pronouncements are equally weighty. For some patients, he is exactly right.  For others, "clinical correlation is recommended" because his science is still an art.

There is little that happens in a hospital without their input.  Chest x-rays, abdominal films, confirmatory films for device placement--all of these major events, much like those of the distant past, start with a trip to the diviner for guidance.

Does medicine ever really change?  The radiology department lacks the mists and incense of the temple, but their words are given no less weight.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Lindsey, you're a lovely writer. Really a delight to read! Have you read The Tender Land/did you ever take a WUSTL class with Kathleen Finneran? Your styles really jive.