Friday, February 24, 2012

Saudi Arabia: Chest X-ray

In 2002, if you asked any third year medical student what were the best conditions to perform a chest X-ray he would tell you that one of them was to perform it with the patient bare-chested. In my country, technologists always asked patients to take off their clothes before proceeding with the examination because they had been trained that clothing might interfere with X-ray images.

I remember I was 19 when I had my first chest X-ray as a grown up. When I was a kid, it didn't matter because I had nothing to hide at that time. On that day when I arrived at the clinic, I wasn't very comfortable that the technologist was male, and when he asked me to take off my top, I wasn't very happy about it. I had two things in my mind. First, I had to get that exam done because I was scared to hell that I had picked up a serious chest infection (tuberculosis). Second, I convinced myself that I didn't have to worry because he didn't know me and more so he would never see me again. 

I had my second X-ray (as an adult) in Saudi Arabia. I had just arrived and the sexual segregation thing had not yet registered in my mind. When I got into the examination room, I thought I had to take off my scarf and abaya. I was so anxious to get over with the examination that I immediately started to do just that. The poor technologist panicked and he got me in the same state too. There I was, standing perplexed and wondering what I had done to scare the poor man this way. All he could say was "Astaghful Allah! Astagful Allah! No madam, no remove, no remove." You bet how relieved I was when I understood the cause of his panic. Of course, I was also relieved that I didn't have to do that exam bare-chested.

At the few hospitals that I have been to, I noticed that most often women were asked to keep their clothes on when performing a chest X-ray. It didn't matter whether they had too many clothes on or not. I have seen only one case where the patient was asked to take off her clothes and wear a hospital gown before the exam. However, her relative stayed behind the curtains to help her get into a hospital gown. I have never stopped asking myself whether chest X-rays done in cases where the patients were overdressed were of really good quality. Would something be done about this if it really was the case? 


  1. Nice Article ,

  2. Hey Kashif,

    Thanks! Nice to hear from you again.


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