Friday, April 08, 2005

Terri Schiavo: R.I.P.

CodeBlueBlog summarizes the Schiavo case and gives further explanations regarding the infamous Terri Schiavo CT Scan and the Bone Scan, all from an experienced radiologist. Very Interesting.
The Infamous CT Scan
I saw, and heard neurologists, ethicists, and hospice physicians in media outlets such as NPR, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, and all the newspapers, declaring that Terri Schiavo's higher brain functions were nil. To describe this they used terms like: "her brain is: "water," a "bag of water," and "totally without cortex." One medical ethicist on NPR said (paraphrased) that Terri's brain was completely without a functioning cortex and since the cortex is where the complex functions and emotions of life are carried out, she is therefore not alive, but dead.

I, like every one else I assume, took this as it was stated (it didn't change my mind about the feeding tube anyway) until I stumbled on the single mid-ventricular CT image of Terri's brain that was done either in 1996 or 2002 (no matter).

Upon seeing the CT slice I was shocked that, yes there was severe atrophy, yes, there was severe damage, and yes the cortex was markedly thinned, but the CT itself did not reflect the descriptions I'd heard; and worse, I have seen many old and debilitated nursing home/assisted living patients as well as younger patients with chronic brain damage, with similar or worse atrophy. And not all of these patients were nonfunctioning.

That same CT slice was used as a visual graphic on television and in the newspapers -- by the same group of experts -- to demonstrate why Terri Schiavo was suitable for euthanasia. I objected to this strongly as, to me, the implications for all the other patients with similar or worse CT scans was morally and ethically frightening (talk about slippery slopes!).

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