Why is diagnostic imaging important after an accident?
Within the specialized practice of Personal Injury Law, lawyers see an endless list of injuries that affect clients and have caused them lifelong pain and suffering, drastically reducing their Quality of Life (“QoL”). From medical malpractice errors to car accident injuries, there’s never a specific injury that’s more or less painful than the next; it depends on the client and how each individual experiences pain.
Each injury a client suffers due to an accident or medical negligence causes symptoms unique to the client. Clients are often bed or wheelchair bound, or have to use mobility aides such as a walker or crutches. To determine what’s best for the client’s recovery, diagnostic imaging is often the first tool in a patient’s treatment plan. The extent of their injuries needs to be determined before a plan of action is enacted for their care.
That’s the one thing that remains the same across each and every Personal Injury case: the necessity of diagnostic imaging. Imaging is useful to thoroughly determine the extent of the victim’s injuries. In this Shaked Law Resource article we’ll provide the information necessary to understand different types of diagnostic imaging. From a simple X-ray image to Diffuse Tensor Imaging, those who sustain injuries from an accident will need to undergo diagnostic imaging. This helps the medical team offer the best treatment plan possible. In severe cases, such as a Spinal Cord Injury or a Traumatic Brain Injury that may require extensive surgery to treat, more than one type of imaging technique may be necessary.
What are the different types of imaging?
There are several common forms of diagnostic imaging available to determine the extent of injuries after an accident.
- X-ray image: used as a first line study to visualize broken bones
- MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging: used to diagnose neck, back, spine, and cervical spine injuries as well as used to get a better look at cartilage and tissue, which doesn’t appear on an X-ray
- CT Scan, or Computed Tomography: commonly used to diagnose muscle and bone injuries with better visualization than the standard X-ray.
- DTI Scan, or Diffuse Tensor Imaging: this high level imaging is commonly used in TBI patients to get the best possible picture of the brain available. It’s the only imaging study currently available that allows doctors to see the white matter of the brain, and thusly determine the extent of a brain injury.
What is each type used for?
Now that we’ve established the types of imaging available to patients after they’ve sustained an injury in an accident, we’ll explore what each type of imaging is used for, and why doctors might make the choice to use one type of scan over another.
X-ray imaging: this standard form of imaging is necessary to visualize broken bones which may require surgical intervention. However, X-ray imaging can also detect the presence of foreign matter inside the body. (Glass shattering as a result of a car accident, or a surgical tool negligently left in the patient post-op). An X-ray can determine the presence of foreign matter and the medical team can act quickly to remove it. X-rays are quick, and take no more than a few minutes to complete in an in or outpatient setting.
This type of imaging is available at ERs, urgent care centers, and even in doctors’ offices.
Understanding other types of imaging
MRI imaging: this type of imaging is used to visualize injuries that cannot be seen on a standard X-ray. Cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and muscle can be seen on this type of scan. MRI has no radiation, as the use of strong magnets are utilized to obtain the image. MRI imaging can take longer than the standard X-ray, and depending on what the scan is necessitated for, can run anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours or more. Each doctor has a specific style of MRI imaging they prefer, and each has its own specific timeframe. An MRI causes no pain to the patient. Depending on the patient’s preference, MRI is done in an “open” or “closed” setting with music and warm blankets provided for comfort.
An MRI can be either outpatient or inpatient, in a hospital, or in an MRI facility. Patients who experience claustrophobia should let their doctor know. There are many MRI facilities that offer the “open” MRI option to avoid this unpleasant and often scary occurrence after an accident that causes trauma to the victim.
CT scan: A CT scan, or Computed Tomography scan is faster than an MRI, usually under 20 minutes. It visualizes most of the same things as an MRI. However, like an X-ray, a CT scan’s level of radiation is often not preferable to the patient and their doctor. This can be for various reasons including pregnancy. Thus why a doctor may skip the use of this technique and use MRI instead.
More advanced imaging
DTI scan: this imaging technique is useful in Traumatic Brain Injury patients to get the most thorough image of the brain. It’s the only imaging study currently available that allows a doctor to see the brain’s white matter, give the image a score, and thusly determine the extent of a brain injury. DTI is more precise than a CT or MRI in these specific situations.
Why do victims require a Personal Injury lawyer post accident?
It’s important to immediately seek legal representation from a Board Certified lawyer after an accident. Once a victim is stable on the medical side, it’s important they or their family seek legal advice on the next steps. This is to ensure they’re able to receive maximum compensation for the pain and suffering resulting from another’s actions. The most important thing to remember when speaking with a Personal Injury lawyer is to be honest! Honesty gets the client far, while lying to the lawyer or exaggerating the events can hurt or even kill the case.
Disclaimer: Any symptoms you experience should always be discussed with a licensed medical professional. One should never rely on articles found via the internet when making important medical decisions. This article is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.