Monday, November 4, 2013

Radiology Right

Notice the R on the left side of the image? (Image source:

Right/left conventions of radiology are a key teaching point during first year. If you haven’t had an introduction to radiology yet (or your school failed to teach you how to read an X-ray), here’s the basic idea:

1) X-rays (assuming that we’re not doing any fancy angles on the X-ray) and coronal MRIs/CTs are read as if you’re standing in front of and facing the patient: their right is your left.

2) Transverse MRIs and CTs are read as if the patient is lying on a table and you are looking up at the section from their feet. Their right still ends up being your left.

My school, and probably every other medical school & radiology program, calls this "radiology right" (meaning: LEFT). I’m glad we repeatedly went over these basic points, because the ability to read X-rays, MRIs and CT scans is essential in second year and beyond.

Here's the problem: when I read a lecture and it includes 2 figures and says something like, "Note the fibrosis in the figure on the right," I look at the figure on the left. Every. Time.

That's right (pun intended), "radiology right" is so deeply engrained into my being that I can no longer tell right from left. This is kind of a problem when a cyclist yells, "ON YOUR RIGHT!" My current strategy is to freeze until they pass me, because I don’t know if they’re an actual person or an X-ray.


P.S. I quickly searched the web for funny images or blogs about this topic and found this gem. (Make sure you read the first answer!)

1 comment:

  1. This made me chuckle, but a cyclist should really be passing on your left ;). Unless of course you're walking on the wrong side...


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