Imaging in the global village brings unique challenges

July 14, 2003

During my 1997 visit to a regional hospital on the outskirts of Beijing, I witnessed an emergency CT scan. The patient had suffered head injuries from an agricultural accident, but he was conscious and would agree to enter the scanner only if his brother

During my 1997 visit to a regional hospital on the outskirts of Beijing, I witnessed an emergency CT scan. The patient had suffered head injuries from an agricultural accident, but he was conscious and would agree to enter the scanner only if his brother held his hand throughout the examination. There was no air-conditioning, and the atmosphere was stifling and damp. In the corridor, a sinister-looking masked porter was spraying the walls and floor with strong disinfectant. To maintain throughput levels, two patients queued up to enter the suite.

This special edition of Diagnostic Imaging sheds light on some of the ways radiology is practiced around the world. It looks at how doctors carry out their work and deliver patient care, given the unique set of circumstances each faces.

Medical cultures, availability of resources, government policies, and the organization of imaging departments can vary among countries. Huge international differences in the incidence and type of diseases commonly encountered by imaging professionals add further variety. Finnish radiologists, for instance, see many cases of farmer's lung, a chest disease that arises from the type of wheat used in the region. Most radiologists in Central and Eastern Europe and parts of Asia and Latin America spend a great deal of time imaging tuberculosis and other infectious diseases that are not widely seen in the West.

Medicine is about people, and we have focused on the experiences and achievements of individuals who have promoted international training projects and have dedicated themselves to advancing the global status of imaging.

Philip Ward is editor of Diagnostic Imaging Europe.