As a Caribbean medical student doing rotations in the United States, my schedule wasn’t quite “fitting” well with my Drexel University colleagues rotating at the same hospital. To solve the dilemma, we took a “pre-clinical” elective which was randomly assigned. As luck would have it I was assigned radiology. I showed up the first day with a minty crisp white coat, badge clipped to my upper right pocket, 8 pens (see my previous post on holiday wish list), and my copy of Felson’s in hand. The medical coordinator greets us and brings us to the main reading room.
Imaging anatomy can be high-yield, especially on Step 1. Not only can you answer questions asked directly about what is visible in an image, but you are able to apply the anatomy to sort of “get your bearings” in order to answer higher order questions. For example, by knowing where the liver is in the abdomen when given a CT, and identifying that there is a gross abnormality, then you have instantly aided in cutting down your differential diagnosis by moving from “abdominal pathology” to “liver pathology.”
Imaging on the boards can be daunting for many test takers. Many students get scared at first sight of an image and don’t even bother breaking it down. Here I offer a stepwise approach to breaking down radiology images for the boards that works almost every time: