When the Radiologist Becomes the Patient

When the Radiologist Becomes the Patient

150 150 Radiologists - UHN, WCH, Sinai Health, UofT


When the Radiologist Becomes the Patient

By Dr. Bernd Wintersperger, a cardiovascular/cardiothoracic radiologist at JDMI

I became a patient of my own colleagues.

While I was traveling on a family vacation to celebrate my dad’s 90th birthday back home in Southern Germany, I started to have pain, somewhere in the area of the stomach. I certainly had some sort of abdominal pain in my life before, but this was a bit different than before and probably worse. 

My dad had colon cancer at the age of 85 and that is why I typically have colonoscopy exams every 5 years like many with such a risk and I was due for another one later that year. To determine the cause of the pain, in addition to colonoscopy combined with gastroscopy, my family doctor also scheduled an ultrasound and a CT exam.

I was trained in CT and ultrasound imaging during my residency so I know about the details of those scans and how they are performed. I am exposed to CT imaging every day of my work life but experiencing the test first-hand on the receiving end was a different story.

My medical knowledge and experience did not prepare me for the time of uncertainty between the scan and the actual result of the scan: you know you had the test but somehow you are fearing the result of the test. Your background knowledge is playing tricks with you because you always fear the worst.

Personal experience can change your perspective on many things, including on providing patient care. Learn more about my story in Episode 2 of Radiologists and watch it in the Shine a Light series.