18 Aug 2007

Marion tennis 2007

Last night, after weeks of happy anticipation, we had our annual Radiologists’ Tennis Tournament, bringing out our most competitive, aggressive and sociable side :-).

This year’s theme: Tennis Superstars from the Past… guess who I was!?

More photos of this memorable event on Marion’s photos.

14 Aug 2007

The other day I was assigned a first year medical student for the day, presumably for a day’s “Radiology in practice”. As I tried to show him the beauty of my profession, the subtle signs indicating terrible diseases on a chest X-ray that nobody but a Radiologist would be able to detect, the wide variety of clinical challenges we deal with on a daily basis, he sat there… back straight, faint smile on his face, rucksack still on his shoulders: clearly not impressed. I can’t really blame him. We all start our medical studies with the idea of becoming a proper doctor, devoting our lives to making people better and all that. A morning spent in a dark X-ray reporting room just doesn’t quite fit that picture.

Anyway, after an hour or so of me desperately trying to keep him interested, and him even more excruciatingly feigning interest, I really had some reporting to do. I told him that maybe he should go get a coffee or something, since I was going to dictate some reports on the X-rays we just looked at. Apparently he didn’t like coffee, so he stayed put, and while I did my reporting using the real-time speech recognition software, I could sense a change of athmosphere. Sitting next to me was my student: entirely mesmerised by the little screen showing the transcript of my report (with >95% accuracy), eyes shining, in awe… “that’s so cool”, he muttered.

I might have won his soul after all.

25 Jun 2007

Margherita Dolce Vita

This book (S. Benni) about Margherita, a 14 1/2 year old, somewhat overweight girl with a passion for writing “bad poetry” and “the start of books”, is very funny and beautifully magical. The story easily takes you from a walk in the meadow to a wander into someone else’s dreams, Margherita’s class mates being just as real as the ghost of the “Dust girl”. An easy and very entertaining read, definitely recommended.

10 Jun 2007

Special Topics in Calamity Physics

I was drawn to this book (M. Pessl) by its pretty cover and strange title. It is witty, unusual, clever - but maybe a bit too clever… the many, many references to literature and cinematography were, to me anyway, often too obscure to add anything, and instead I got annoyed (at my own ignorance mostly) and distracted.

However, after I’d decided not to pay too much attention to these references anymore, I did really enjoy the story of the slightly weltfremt Blue, living with her unconventional father, and joining, in true Secret History/Dead Poet’s Society style, the exclusive group of students gathering once a week at a teacher’s home. On the one hand, Blue is far too clever and literate to be real, but she is also a normal, insecure teenager, making her a true character after all. The story twists and turns, and changes pace so quickly that I sometimes had to read back to where I’d missed the sudden turn.

In summary, I do recommend this book (although not for an English literature exam), but only if you’re either very well-read, or are happy to let the references slide past you and just enjoy the story.

06 May 2007

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

A short history of tractors in Ukrainian (M. Lewycka) fortunately isn’t in Ukrainian and only a little bit about tractors. It is the story of Ukrainian immigrants in the UK, past and present. Funny, lighthearted, and happy endings.. but also a gentle reminder of how lucky it is to be born in a country without economic or humanitarian suffering. Recommended.

15 Apr 2007

Well, we think it isn’t… We studied known risk factors for neurocranial complications after minor head injury both in patients with and in patients without a history of loss of consciousness or post-traumatic amnesia (PTA). Neurocranial complications were seen in both groups, sometimes even requiring neurosurgical intervention, and risk factors were found to be homogeneous across the two patient groups. The paper presenting these results has today been accepted for publication in JNNP, and should be available online through their fast-track system in 10 days’ time!

05 Apr 2007

So, what are we all going to wear for the big day of Indra’s PhD defence? After a long day’s shopping on the first day of gorgeous weather this year, we may not have found the best jackets yet…

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26 Mar 2007


No kidding, no Photoshop… there really are hills in Holland!

More photos of our weekend away “up north”.

20 Mar 2007

Today, our CHIP Prediction Rule was published in Annals of Internal Medicine (Ann Intern Med 2007;146:397-405).


We developed the CHIP Prediction Rule in a large cohort of minor head injury patients from our multicentre “CT in Head Injury Patients” (CHIP) study. The rule may be used as a decision-making aid for the selective use of CT in these patients. We estimate that implementation of the rule in clinical practice may reduce the number of CT scans performed for minor head injury by up to 30%, while still identifying most patients with intracranial traumatic findings on CT and nearly all patients requiring neurosurgical intervention.

The CHIP prediction rule is also applicable to minor head injury patients without a history of loss of consciousness, as opposed to the previously published New Orleans Criteria (N Engl J Med 2000;343:100-105) and the Canadian CT Head Rule (Lancet 2001;357:1391-1396).

A note of caution: we have only validated the prediction rule internally, using bootstrapping methods; external validation, however, is still required.

Our online calculator provides the prediction rule score and the predicted probability of an intracranial traumatic finding on CT in a specific minor head injury patient.

15 Mar 2007

We’ve really been struggling with the chunky headphones and the tight 8-channel head coil, both on our 3T and 1.5T GE MR systems. Basically, people with even a normal sized head just don’t fit (comfortably) within the head rest when wearing the headphones, needed for stimulus presentation during fMRI experiments.

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So I was very happy when our new eye tracking system came with a new head rest, that is shaped such that headphones fit perfectly. It is available from Avotec, product no. 745420, for $350 + shipping. Of course, you can also just try to reshape your original headrest, but personally, I am not that good with the jigsaw…

photography: Mrs. C. ten Wolde.