Sunday, June 03, 2007

Here are some quaint medical terms

I have been dealing with Erik's vitamin D problem. Finally after some months of receiving calcitriol (1,25 dihydrocholecalciferol), a metabolite of 25 dihydrocholecalciferol -- actually a hormone made in the kidney -- his blood values are improving. His calcium is up to normal. His phosphorus is at the bottom end of normal and all other values have improved, and although they are not normal, they are nicely improving.

That being said, I can muse over two of the terms I have come across when I tried to learn something about the diagnosis of rickets and osteomalacia. One is "hot-crossed-bun skull", the other "rugger-jersey spine". The first one refers to the skull of a new-born baby with rickets. Imagine a skull that has creases in it as if a baker had cut furrows into the skull to mark it like a hot crossed bun. I know what it looks like. Erik had that when he was born prematurely almost 37 years ago, but I didn't know, at that time, that a skull of a baby with rickets looks like that. The doctors didn't tell me. I would have loved to have known what I know now. The term "hot-crossed bun skull" is a new one to my vocabulary this year. If I had known it, Erik would still be walking.

The other term is "rugger-jersey spine". That term refers to the x-ray of a spine where the vertebrae look like a rugby-player's shirt, you know, a shirt like that has those typical horizontal stripes. I am not really sure that every doctor knows what a rugger jersey is, but a radiologist surely can tell, as well as I can, that an x-ray showing "rugger jersey spine" signifies osteomalacia. I have seen Erik's x-rays, and he has a "rugger-jersey spine". This term, too, is a new word for me this year. Would I have loved to have known about that ten or twenty years ago? You bet, I would. Erik has had rickets and he has now osteomalacia. I found out 37 years too late.


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