Thursday, August 18, 2011

Can Glass in Soft Tissues Be Visualized on X-ray? Yes.


A cleverly written post on the blog “Polite Dissent” uses a Superman comic book to make a point that most types of glass cannot be seen using plain x-rays. I beg to differ.

Despite evidence to the contrary, the myth that glass cannot be seen on x-ray persists. Back in 1982, a radiologist named Dan Tandberg performed a simple, but elegant experiment. He embedded 66 different kinds of glass in the muscles of chicken drumsticks. He used pieces of chicken because it is similar in tissue density to human fingers and feet. In all 66 cases, the glass could be seen with a plain x-ray. The paper was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

My clinical experience has confirmed Tandberg’s findings.

But a word of warning is necessary. Just because glass can be seen on x-ray doesn’t mean it will be easy to find when trying to remove it. X-rays from various angles, insertion of needles to help establish the location of the glass and even fluoroscopy may be required.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what general surgery residents are taught, but I was taught to always use fluoroscopy and insert two needles if you have a radioopaque foreign body.

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