An Open Letter to Radiologists From a Jilted Orthopedic Surgeon


This article is satire.

As an orthopedic surgeon, it has always been clear that our specialties benefit from a somewhat symbiotic relationship. We feed you patients, and you often return the favor by providing us with the needed confirmation to operate. However, I feel as though there is a deepening rift between our two specialties.

It has been developing gradually, almost imperceptibly, over time. Perhaps it is perpetuated by the belief among orthopedic surgeons that your reads are often superfluous.

However, I think there is a bigger issue at hand. We orthopedic surgeons are disappointed with the growing lack of enthusiasm in your reports. When I began in practice almost 15 years ago, it wasn’t unusual to see a report of a post-reduction or post-surgical x-ray that read, “alignment is now anatomic” or, at a minimum, “near anatomic.”

What happened? What did we do to deserve reports like, “Overlying cast obscures fine bony detail. Alignment is improved from pre-reduction imaging,” after we closed reduced a mangled-looking extremity and got it back anatomically? Or better yet, “54 seconds of fluoroscopic time was provided for ORIF of femur. Correlate with operative report,” when we ORIF’d the hell out of it.

Our marriage has lost the romance. You no longer whisper sweet nothings into Epic. Admittedly the relationship was a bit one-sided, as if we are calling you about a read, it probably isn’t because we thought it was your best work.

However, I’m optimistic our relationship can be salvaged. It doesn’t take much stroking of an orthopod’s ego to turn us on. The next time you get pre- versus post-reduction films like these, just throw caution to the wind and dictate, “the reduction is ana-$*@#-tomic.”

Not only will we stop saying your reads are a waste of money and time, but you just might reignite that old spark between us.

Samara Friedman, MD, is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon.

This post appeared on KevinMD.

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