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Radiology sees inside the body

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Samantha Bradford, a diagnostic imaging technologist with the 35th Surgical Operations Squadron, analyzes a patient’s bone structure after conducting a computerized tomography scan at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Jan. 27, 2016. With these machines, Bradford said they can see 3-D reconstructions, or digital slices of the body, from a patient’s bones to elements as small as blood vessels. When a few seconds could mean the difference between life and death, these scans make it easier to see nearly everything there is to know about the patient. Bradford is a Corinth, Maine, native. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Samantha Bradford, a diagnostic imaging technologist with the 35th Surgical Operations Squadron, analyzes a patient’s bone structure after conducting a computerized tomography scan at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Jan. 27, 2016. With these machines, Bradford said they can see 3-D reconstructions, or digital slices of the body, from a patient’s bones to elements as small as blood vessels. When a few seconds could mean the difference between life and death, these scans make it easier to see nearly everything there is to know about the patient. Bradford is a Corinth, Maine, native. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jason Grosso, a diagnostic imaging technologist with the 35th Surgical Operations Squadron, captures a “Y-view” image of a patient’s shoulder using a semi-digital x-ray machine that turns radiation into light at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Jan. 27, 2016. The Y-view is a lateral standard x-ray of the shoulder joint and is typically used to diagnose and treat dislocations. This x-ray machine is a safer version of its predecessors, reducing the amount of radiation needed to produce a diagnostic image. Grosso hails from Bridgman, Michigan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jason Grosso, a diagnostic imaging technologist with the 35th Surgical Operations Squadron, captures a “Y-view” image of a patient’s shoulder using a semi-digital x-ray machine that turns radiation into light at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Jan. 27, 2016. The Y-view is a lateral standard x-ray of the shoulder joint and is typically used to diagnose and treat dislocations. This x-ray machine is a safer version of its predecessors, reducing the amount of radiation needed to produce a diagnostic image. Grosso hails from Bridgman, Michigan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Samantha Bradford, a diagnostic imaging technologist with the 35th Surgical Operations Squadron, covers a kidney stone patient as she prepares her for a computerized tomography scan at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Jan. 27, 2016. The CT scan will provide a 3-D view of the patient’s bones and internal organs including her urinary system. The high resolution scan allows Bradford to see the stones and their exact locations so the physicians know precisely where to create an incision for extraction. Bradford is a Corinth, Maine, native. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Samantha Bradford, a diagnostic imaging technologist with the 35th Surgical Operations Squadron, covers a patient with kidney stones as she prepares her for a computerized tomography scan at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Jan. 27, 2016. The CT scan will provide a 3-D view of the patient’s bones and internal organs including her urinary system. The high resolution scan allows Bradford to see the stones and their exact locations so the physicians know precisely where to create an incision for extraction. Bradford is a Corinth, Maine, native. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jason Grosso, a diagnostic imaging technologist with the 35th Surgical Operations Squadron, conducts post-processing operations of a patient’s chest x-ray at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Jan. 27, 2016. Grosso adjusts tone and color parameters to get the right amount of grey so physicians can diagnose injuries. The brighter an area shows up, the more radiation is absorbed. This process ensures each image is easily interpretable by the physicians. Grosso hails from Bridgman, Michigan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jason Grosso, a diagnostic imaging technologist with the 35th Surgical Operations Squadron, conducts post-processing operations of a patient’s chest x-ray at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Jan. 27, 2016. Grosso adjusts tone and color parameters to get the right amount of grey so physicians can diagnose injuries. The brighter an area shows up, the more radiation is absorbed. This process ensures each image is easily interpretable by the physicians. Grosso hails from Bridgman, Michigan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Samantha Bradford, a diagnostic imaging technologist with the 35th Surgical Operations Squadron, chats with a kidney stone patient as she conducts a computerized tomography scan at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Jan. 27, 2016. Talking with the patient during CT scans alleviates apprehension commonly associated with the procedure. Bradford is a Corinth, Maine, native. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Samantha Bradford, a diagnostic imaging technologist with the 35th Surgical Operations Squadron, chats with a kidney stone patient as she conducts a computerized tomography scan at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Jan. 27, 2016. Talking with the patient during CT scans alleviates apprehension commonly associated with the procedure. Bradford is a Corinth, Maine, native. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jason Grosso positions Staff Sgt. Mike George, both diagnostic imaging technologists with the 35th Surgical Operations Squadron, so he’s able to capture a Grashey’s view image of the shoulder using a semi-digital x-ray machine that turns radiation into light at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Jan. 27, 2016. The Grashey view is designed to prevent overlap of the humeral head and the glenoid. The patient is positioned with their back toward the image detector and body angled at 35 to 45 degrees with their scapula up against the detector and humerus internally rotated. Grosso hails from Bridgman, Michigan, and George is a Lewiston, Idaho, native. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jason Grosso positions Staff Sgt. Mike George, both diagnostic imaging technologists with the 35th Surgical Operations Squadron, so he’s able to capture a Grashey’s view image of the shoulder using a semi-digital x-ray machine that turns radiation into light at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Jan. 27, 2016. The Grashey view is designed to prevent overlap of the humeral head and the glenoid. The patient is positioned with their back toward the image detector and body angled at 35 to 45 degrees with their scapula up against the detector and humerus internally rotated. Grosso hails from Bridgman, Michigan, and George is a Lewiston, Idaho, native. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- While conducting maintenance checks atop an F-16 Fighting Falcon, Airman Joe Snuffy slips and falls to the hangar floor. As he descends, Snuffy instinctively throws his arms out to break his fall and...CRACK! Both arms splinter. Shock sets in and the next thing he knows, he's in radiology sliding under a computerized tomography scanner.

Although this fictional narrative may not resonate with every day life, a broken bone could happen to anyone.

Thanks to the 35th Surgical Operations Squadron's diagnostic imaging technologists and radiologists, physicians can accurately diagnose and treat injuries ensuring their patients receive a quick recovery.

Capt. Marc Tolley, a 35th SGC radiologist, said, "It [radiology] is especially critical to emergency operations as the physicians require a very quick, but clear, view inside a patient."

Nearly a century ago, Tolley said radiologists had to physically open patients up to directly visualize what's wrong. Sometimes, physicians would have to give a diagnosis without administering the patient anesthetics--meaning they felt everything. Today, the procedure is far less invasive.

After completing a CT scan on a patient believed to have kidney stones, Airman 1st Class Samantha Bradford, a 35th SGC diagnostic imaging technologist, pulls up a 3-D view of the patient's urinary system. The high resolution scan allows her to see the stones and their exact locations, so the physicians know precisely where to create an incision for extraction.

"With these machines we can see 3-D reconstructions, or digital slices of the body, from a patient's bones to elements as small as blood vessels," Bradford said. "When a few seconds could mean the difference between life and death, these scans make it easier to see nearly everything there is to know about the patient."

Thankfully, not every scan is for a life-saving procedure. Staff Sgt. Mike George, also a 35th SGC diagnostic imaging technologist, explains how radiology uses other machines for routine operations, including x-rays, ultrasounds, magnetic resonance imaging and fluoroscopy.

"With fluoroscopy, patients ingest a barium pill that allows us to visualize the movement of a body part, an instrument, or dye in real time," George said. "Fluoroscopy studies body functions, such as the upper gastrointestinal series when evaluating a patient suspected to have gastroesophageal reflux and other problems like difficulty swallowing." 

These services are a key factor in servicing a base with Airmen and families from nearly every demographic and age group. Staff Sgt. Emily George, the 35th SGC mammography NCO in charge, said although most women under 40 have little worry of breast cancer, older women require mammography services.

"We offer a comprehensive breast cancer health assessment and screening for women 40 and older," she said. "Misawa operates a dedicated x-ray unit used to detect changes in breast tissue that self-breast exams may not identify. Mammography can lead to early detection and treatment before the body shows symptoms."

With an array of routine and life-saving equipment, procedures and experience, the 35th Medical Group's radiology clinic ensures all members of Team Misawa receive professionally administered, full-service healthcare to every service member and their family.

"Radiology is very important because without us, physicians wouldn't be able to see what's going wrong in a patient's body," Tolley said.