A Day in the Life of a Sports Radiologist
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Dr. Murray Howe describes sports radiology as “fun, challenging, and exciting.”
By Dr. Murray Howe, MD, head of Sports Medicine Imaging for Toledo Radiological Associates.
As a sports radiologist, there is no such thing as an average day for me. Every day is incredibly fun, challenging, and exciting.
Being a radiologist is also very rewarding. My father, Gordie Howe, was a professional ice hockey player for 32 seasons in the National Hockey League and the World Hockey Association. Watching him train and compete, and being a former hockey player myself, I know how important it is to heal quickly in order to get back on the ice – or the turf – or the field.
I work with a large radiology group called Toledo Radiological Associates and with Promedica Healthcare System in Northwest Ohio. Our group of 40 radiologists covers nine hospitals and several outpatient clinics, so on any given day, I might be at any of those locations.
Injuries require mix of procedures and imaging exams
Every day, we are assigned certain types of exams on our rotations. Typically, I work a 9-hour shift, doing a mixture of musculoskeletal and GI procedures, and reading general, ED, and sports imaging studies. I also teach radiology residents, medical students, family practice residents, and sports medicine fellows from the University of Toledo. As sports radiologists, we most often image injured joints and muscles, especially knees, shoulders, ankles, elbows, and wrists.
We work very closely with the sports medicine program at Promedica called Sports Care. We have a monthly conference with them to review challenging sports medicine cases. Also, we teach the sports medicine fellows about sports medicine imaging. We give them an overview of imaging anatomy, indications for the examinations, and the strengths and limitations of each modality.
Dr. Roger Kruse, M.D. heads up the Sports Care program. He has been a colleague for more than 25 years, and together we help train all the sports care fellows. Because Dr. Kruse has also been a team physician for the US Olympic team, he gets requests for diagnoses from athletes all over the country and really, all over the world. It’s not uncommon for him to give us a shout and say, “Hey, I have an MRI from Nagano, Japan. Can you look at it for me and see what you think?”
Other Sports Care docs in the region also call us for a second look when the outside interpretation doesn’t correlate with their clinical findings.
The United States can be proud of the fact that we as a nation are at the forefront of musculoskeletal and sports care treatment. We prioritize getting athletes back to full performance as rapidly and safely as possible. We have a heavy emphasis on doing early diagnostic imaging to identify the athletes’ injuries, expediting the treatment process.
Since our practice is close to the border, we are privileged to even see some patients from Canada. It’s especially close to my heart as my Dad was from Saskatchewan, Canada. I know he appreciates that we are helping his fellow athletes.
Most valuable players
Teamwork is a natural and necessary state of being for sports radiologists, many of whom are athletes or come from a family of athletes. Our team recognizes the pitfalls of interpreting images in a vacuum, and the benefits of having a team mentality, where every member of the team is considered the Most Valuable Player.
We work closely with our referring physicians. We all recognize that our professions complement one another, and we work as a team for the benefit of the athlete, whether they are a professional or a weekend warrior.
We love having interactions with the referring physicians. These collaborations help us as radiologists to understand more about the patient’s overall health, and what the physicians are planning to do surgically. Speaking directly to a referring doc, trauma or ED surgeon helps to put in perspective what it means when we make a call about a certain injury or abnormality. By working closely together, we understand more about the specific patient.
At our institutions, we provide 24/7 coverage. Emergency department and other referring docs know they can call us at any hour, any day to discuss a case. They are not concerned about waking us up; we’re already wide-awake!
I love being a radiologist as much as my father loved playing hockey. I’m incredibly grateful that I followed his advice to “do what you love.” I have similar advice for young people who are considering becoming a physician. I encourage them to follow their passions and do what they find is the most fun. If it’s medicine, then that’s what they should do.
#NHL #sportsmedicine #sportsradiology
Read Dr. Howe’s companion blog, “ Lessons Applied to My Career in Sports Radiology from My Dad and The Father of Hockey, Gordie Howe
Dr. Murray Howe is the youngest son of the late Gordie Howe (the Father of Hockey). Dr. Howe is head of Sports Medicine Imaging for Toledo Radiological Associates and Promedica Health System’s Sports Care program. Dr. Howe is an associate clinical professor at the University of Toledo Medical Center and serves on the University of Michigan Medical School Admissions Committee. He has four decades of experience as a keynote speaker across Canada and the US covering various topics including sports medicine, health and wellness, and hockey. Dr. Howe recently published his first National Bestseller, Nine Lessons I Learned from My Father.