Habitual Dependence on Modern Imaging Modalities: The New Golem
Elisha Hospital, Haifa
Modern imaging techniques have been taking over our medical life, but none denies the progress that has followed introduction of modern imaging modalities. For the generation of younger physicians who entered the profession after the introduction of these techniques, use of US, CT, MRI and the like is natural and often applied. But the patient is not computerized and medicine is far from being a pure science. 3 cases of common surgical problems are presented in which excessive use of diagnostic modalities resulted in unnecessary operations, thus leading to unnecessary morbidity.
In these days of soaring medical expenses, many unnecessary imaging and laboratory studies are done for reasons of "defensive" medicine. It is important to fortify the position of clinical diagnosis, but making clinical decisions without requiring expensive and sometimes misleading imaging studies significantly reduces costs. Admittedly, courage and firm professional backbone are required to face a lawyer or a judge and say: "This CT or US study would not have changed my clinical decision; it would have made no positive contribution to it, and might even have mislead me." This paper comes to remind physicians of the importance of clinical diagnosis and the need to develop and rely on primary medical skills. Machines and laboratory tests are aids to diagnosis, they do not make the diagnosis.