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The Huffington Post—September 19, 2012

Helene Pavlov, M.D., FACR, Radiologist-in-Chief at Hospital for Special Surgery

What Your Radiologist Needs to Know Before an Imaging Study

You've been feeling under the weather lately, or you have aches and pains or swelling that just will not go away, or you just don't feel like yourself. You are hoping these signs, symptoms, and feelings are nothing serious, but you call your doctor to set up an appointment, just to make sure.

During the doctor's visit, you state your symptoms and consciously or unconsciously decide what to include. Maybe you have "white coat syndrome" and are reluctant to speak. Maybe you don't want to bother the doctor with all your symptoms because maybe you believe that they are not that important. You may not know what is important, or you may be afraid to say what you are thinking because it may indicate something "frightening." Perhaps, because you want to control the situation, you feel that if you reveal too much, the doctor will tell you what you do not want to hear. Maybe you feel, "The doctor knows best and should know what is important, so it is up to the doctor to ask!"

Signs and symptoms can be subtle. Since you know your body better than anyone else, typically you may be aware of early and mild changes before they are easily detected and before they become serious. The thought of some diagnoses and/or recommendations can be scary, but it is in your interest and of utmost importance that your doctor know everything there is to know about your signs and symptoms, so that an accurate diagnosis can be made.

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The moral of the story is simple... Tell your referring physician and your radiologist -- and any other health care provider you see -- about pre-existing conditions and your symptoms. The more you reveal from the get-go, the better off you will be. Even if the information they tell you regarding your condition is not what you want to hear, the chances for an accurate diagnosis will be improved. You will be in a much better position to focus on the situation and make an informed decision with professional advice as to the appropriate next step.

Read the full story at huffingtonpost.com.

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