26 July 2006

Fat Gets in the Way

Can being obese or being overweight interfere in the accuracy of a medical diagnosis?

Oh, yes.

The layers of fat can sometimes lead to a wrong medical diagnosis. A recent study analyzed radiology exams performed at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) between 1989 and 2003. What did the researchers find?
By 2003, the modality that yielded the most difficulties in rendering a diagnosis was ultrasound (1.90 percent), followed by chest x-rays (0.18 percent), abdominal computed tomography (CT scans), abdominal x-rays, chest CT and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (all anatomic regions included).

CT and MRI can be problematic because of weight limitations of the imaging table and the size of the opening on the imager (patients are inserted through a small "hole in the doughnut"). Standard CT tables can accommodate patients weighing up to 450 pounds, and MRI machines can typically obtain diagnostic-quality images in patients weighing up to 350 pounds.

[ ScienceDaily, 25 July 2006]

Other medical disadvantages of having too much fat in the body:

  1. The need for larger hospital beds and bigger wheelchairs.

  2. The need to increase radiation dose in order to get better quality X-ray or CT scan images.

  3. The need to repeat the procedures because of inconclusive results. More money is shelled out. Time is wasted when it is vital to come with an immediate diagnosis.

  4. More pain and discomfort when doctors request for blood exams. They find it difficult to search for a viable vein to draw sample blood specimens. Fat gets in the way again.

  5. Increased hospitalization periods.

5 reactions:

Tani said...

another disadvantage: there's a need for stronger personnel (or more personnel) to push those hospitalized obese people :)

may said...

...and everytime i have a patient over 400 pounds, after a 12 hour shift, i want to lie on the floor, cry, and go home. HOME, meaning there.

sadly, it has been happening quite often lately.

rolly said...

I had a bad experience with #4. I had been poked three times with a needle simply because they missed the vein. Sa inis ko, nasabi ko tuloy, miss, pwede ba, humanap ka na ng marunong kasi bano ka naman e. Bad no?

bayibhyap said...

6. Incread hospitalization costs.

bing said...

i remember an obese in law who died last 2001. kailangang magpasadya ng casket because no available ones are there sa funeral parlor.