Traditionally, CT-images are used to ensure a correct diagnosis and to provide guidance for properly treating the patient. A study at the Sahlgrenska Academy showed that x-ray images can also be used to explain, inform and educate patients about their illness.

In the study seven women and five men treated for obesity. The treatment program included mapping of patients´ adipose tissue with CT images. CT images showed a cross-section of the patients abdomen, and together with the examining radiographer they studied the distribution of the fatty tissue in the image. The results show that using images to educate the patient made them more motivated to change their lifestyle.

“We wanted to examine how patients experienced having their obesity explained to them and receiving information about the individual risk of obesity-related illness using their own CT-images,” says the leader of the study Eva Bergelin at the Sahlgrenska Academy who led the study.

“Our results showed that the patients were positive about the method of using images to educate them and the images affected them deeply and could help and motivate them to make a change. They were curious and their knowledge of their own disease increased. The knowledge they gain is important not least when they discuss their continued treatment with the nurses, dieticians and physicians”.

In conclusion, the CT-scans can be a good educational tool to provide unique, customized information to each individual patient in order to increase the patient’s understanding and awareness of their disease.

Eva Bergelin hopes that the CT-images may also be used in other care situations, where lifestyle changes and knowledge are important in terms of a person’s health and well-being.

“A well-informed and knowledgeable patient has a greater ability to participate in his/her own care process and have a positive effect on their treatment,” says Eva Bergelin.

The study was published in Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences in May 2013.

Caption above: CT-image of adipose tissue in adult woman.

Eva Bergelin, M.D. Radiographer MA, Adjunct, Institute of Health and Care Sciences at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg
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