MSK-trained radiologists benefit all patients, not just orthopedic ones

photo by: LMH Health

The 1.5 Tesla MRI at LMH Health's West Campus

Injuries to the ankle, foot, hands and knees happen every day. Sometimes, your doctor will order an X-ray or other imaging to help determine the extent of the injury. Patients can count on the musculoskeletal (MSK)-trained radiologists with Radiologic Professional Services, a partner of LMH Health, who have expertise in the subtleties of imaging specific to this group of patients.

“When people talk about radiologists, they aren’t always sure if it’s the people that take the X-rays or the doctors that come up with their diagnosis,” said Dr. Todd Oberzan, board-certified and MSK-trained radiologist. “Finding a problem when it’s subtle and early in the disease process can save a patient time – and sometimes intervention – so we can keep them at work, on the field, the golf course or just on a walk.”

MSK imaging focuses on bone, joint, muscle and connective tissue abnormalities. Dr. Oberzan and Dr. Thomas Grillot both have specialized MSK training, which provides them with the knowledge and experience to find the intricacies of disease and how it relates to the patient and their body.

“Becoming a radiologist requires you to go through medical school and then five more years of training. The first year is an internship, where you can train in another discipline such as internal medicine, and then four years of residency,” Grillot said. “Ninety percent of all radiologists then go on to do a fellowship, and for MSK those are one-year long. Then it’s time for you to go out and work in your field.”

Benefits for orthopedic patients

“The beauty of having MSK-trained radiologists is their connection with orthopedics,” said Dr. Douglass Stull, an orthopedic surgeon with OrthoKansas. “They look at an image, and we’re able to communicate about it and zero in on the problem. They have the benefit of reading the exam notes and having access to all of the patient’s medical records.”

At OrthoKansas, patients receive personalized, comprehensive care close to home. The collaborative care provided at the LMH Health West Campus, including orthopedics, imaging and therapy, makes the campus a one-stop shop for medical care.

“We’re onsite at the West Campus for your imaging procedure,” Grillot said. “That allows us to answer any questions, customize the exam to your specific injury and read the exam right after we do the procedure. In a couple of hours, you could have a follow-up appointment with an orthopedist and we’ve already gone through the images and done the report.”

Advanced technology

The advanced imaging center at the LMH Health West Campus provides same-day results from specialized orthopedic imaging units with advanced 3D-viewing capabilities. This includes access to higher resolution imaging using the first 3 Tesla MRI in the area.

“When you talk about magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the strength of the magnet is measured in Tesla. The routine strength of a standard MRI is 1.5. Having a 3 Tesla magnet provides more robust images, which allows me to better see tiny abnormalities of your labrum, meniscus or tiny cracks in your bone,” Oberzan said.

The West Campus also boasts 3D technology that’s not found anywhere else in the region: Robotic Advanced X-ray (RAX). This technology is used by NFL teams.

Matt Toews, LMH Health Imaging manager, said this technology allows the team to minimize movement, causing the patient less pain than in traditional imaging.

“In a normal X-ray room, patients have to move around and get in certain positions. With RAX, the robot moves and keeps you from having to shift around to get the right images,” Toews said.

He shared that patients who have ankle instabilities, need diagnosis of foot or ankle fractures or are in need of surgical planning may be candidates for RAX imaging. With a traditional scan, the foot and ankle are in a relaxed position. The weight-bearing images acquired by the RAX allow radiologists to more accurately evaluate the biomechanics of the foot and ankle for certain conditions.

“We treat elite Olympic, professional and collegiate athletes all the way to the 7-year-old that fell on their wrist or a 76-year-old pickleball player,” Oberzan said. “No matter who you are, you’re getting one team working with you and going one place for comprehensive, state-of-the-art care.”

Caring for all

You might think that MSK training means that patients with orthopedic injuries are the only ones who benefit from these radiologists’ expertise. While they do care for orthopedic patients, they also care for those with oncologic, rheumatologic and traumatic injuries at LMH Health’s campuses.

“Without a doubt, having us at LMH benefits other patients. When we take a picture of your chest, we look at everything on the image, not just your lungs. Having an MSK background helps me diagnose some things that may go unseen. Aches and pains happen all the time. Sometimes the cause is the lung or liver but other times, the ribs could be the cause,” Oberzan said.

These radiologists can provide an additional layer of knowledge to the oncologists at the LMH Health Cancer Center. Grillot said that having training and exposure to various types of bone-related tumors and cancers allows them to identify diseases and get the treatment process going.

“Although they’re rare, sarcomas are a unique tumor. They can be particularly devastating and affect a wide range of patients, several of which are more common in kids. We aren’t a big sarcoma center, but our training allows us to identify the issue and get the ball rolling,” he said.

Grillot shared that, traditionally, radiologists do more procedures than any other medical specialty as image-guided procedures fall under their purview. Ultrasound-guided injections and biopsies (excluding the brain) are other things that all radiologists can do.

“As an MSK specialist, I’ve also done quite a few bone and soft-tissue biopsies using both the CT scanner and ultrasound. That’s something we bring to the table that previously other providers couldn’t do,” he said.

— Autumn Bishop is the marketing communications manager at LMH Health.

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