Obesity is making it more and more difficult to run medical tests
The problem with overweight and obese people regarding their health is not just limited to their physical condition. This Reuters story reveals that the prevalence of fat in most Americans can make simple tests like X-rays much less effective for finding and treating medical problems that arise.
In a report published in the August issue of the scientific journal Radiology, radiologist Dr. Raul Uppot from the Massachusetts General Hospital said the growing girths of the American people are presenting quite a challenge to the medical community attempting to help their overweight and obese patients.
"We noticed over the past couple of years that obesity was playing a role in our ability to see these images clearly," Dr. Uppot remarked.
In fact, radiologists have already come up with a euphemism for "the patient was too fat to get a good image" on the report. They write that the images are "limited due to body habitus."
In other words, THEY'RE TOO FAT FOR US TO TAKE THE PICTURE OF WHAT WE NEED TO SEE? It's gotten to be pretty pathetic when a doctor can't even have an X-ray, CT scan, MRI, or PET scan done on a patient because their fat hides what needs to be seen or they're too big to fit in the machine long enough to have the test done.
Sheeez people, do you see why weight loss is so desperately needed right here right now. This is a crisis in the medical community and it shows no signs of getting better!
How would you like to be the patient with a potential tumor, blood clot, broken bone or other such ailment and your doctor says to you, "I'm sorry, but due to 'habitus limited' complications during your test, it is unclear whether you have a life-threatening condition or not. Can you please lose some weight so we can get rid of that 'habitus limited' problem?" UGH!
Dr. Uppot noted the number of "habitus limited" reports has DOUBLED since 1990 with many patients not able to receive the best treatment because the radiologists cannot help them as they should.
"It is a major issue because ... the patient may still have a tumor, the patient may have appendicitis, the patient may have other inflammatory processes," Dr. Uppot explained. "This is affecting radiologists all over the country."
I'm just waiting for someone to file a medical malpractice lawsuit because of this. Um, yes, your honor, they kept me from getting better because I had a cancerous tumor inside of me that they couldn't see. Yes, I understand I weigh 450 pounds, but they still should have been able to see through all my fat to get to that tumor. You think I'm joking, but don't be surprised to see this lawsuit pop up in the very near future!
According to Dr. Uppot, the test that is distorted the most is the ultrasound which is "like a snowstorm."
"If you have seen those televisions where it is just whiteout," Dr. Uppot reported. "It looks like that."
Super-sized MRI machines are being created by aggressive medical equipment companies looking to capitalize on the obesity problem, but they are much too expensive for most hospitals to afford. They kinda remind me of those oversized ambulances in Australia!
Problems like these will not be going away and building bigger and bigger machines is NOT the answer. This is yet another reason why people need to find a weight loss plan they can follow for the rest of their lives and then execute that plan. They must do it for the sake of their health and the potential problems that lie beneath all that fat that their doctors may one day need to see. Don't let that happen to you!
If you notice you can fit in airplane or movie theater seats, the booth at your favorite restaurant is getting tight, or even if you can't fit in that X-ray machine, then maybe it's time you should seriously consider a healthy weight loss plan as soon as possible. I suggest you start livin' la vida low-carb TODAY! :D
You can e-mail Dr. Raul Uppot about his study at email@example.com.
7-29-06 UPDATE: Dr. Raul Uppot sent me an e-mail about this blog post explaining a little bit more about his philosophy regarding the larger equipment accomodations for obese patients and what the short and long-term plans are to alleviate this problem.
Hello Jimmy -
Thanks for your wonderful blog post. I am happy to see that you encourage weight loss with diet and exercise as a solution. As a radiologist, I believe that we should have both a short term and long term solution to the problem of obesity and imaging.
The short term solution is the responsibility of radiologists, hospitals, and equipment manufacturers to accomodate obese patients and obtain high quality images by learning how to adjust the current equipment settings and redesigning equipment to accomodate larger patients.
The long term solution is the responsibility of patients to have a good diet and exercise and to lose weight so that their care is not hindered in the hospital.
However, Dr. Uppot was concerned about the comments I used to describe his study in the repost of this blog at CarbWire.com. But he wanted me and my readers to know he sincerely desires to see these people lose weight rather than building larger and larger machines and that is his ultimate goal.
Hello again Jimmy -
I was a little disappointed to see your comments [on CarbWire.com] regarding my "ill-advised comments." I appreciate that you promote weight loss. That is the final answer...without a doubt. I also believe that if Americans ate properly and exercised we wouldn't be here.
But as a physician I have a responsibility to help obese individuals who come to the hospital with an acute medical condition. It is irresponsible to ignore their condition when they present to the hospital acutely. I cannot send them home and tell them to start a low-carb diet. If they have appendicits or a tumor they would not survive. It is our responsiblity to maximize equipment settings and design equipment to diagnose their acute medcial condition.
You won't believe how many of your readers have written to me seeking help for diagnosing their medical condition and I have been happy to accomodate.
But again as I have stated this is only a short term solution and the long term solution is patient weight loss as you promote. I hope in fairness you post these comments on your blog as I feel we are both trying to help obese people.
Raul N. Uppot, MD
Department of Radiology
Massachusetts General Hospital
Here was my response:
Dear Dr. Uppot,
THANK YOU for writing me back and certainly I will post your comments at my blog. My intention was not necessarily a scorn, but rather a sincere concern about the slippery slope we are traveling down regarding growing medical testing equipment bigger and bigger with no end in sight. Where do we draw the line as a society when we say enough is enough?
When doctors start becoming more proactive in helping their patients lose weight, using various means for doing so including low-fat, low-calorie, and low-carb lifestyle changes, then and only then will we see this "growing" trend begin to stop. Again, THANK YOU for your research and I appreciate your comments!