A Picture is Worth…
The late Barb Stapleton, DVM, DiplAVDC, is credited with saying “Radiographs are cheap but knowledge is invaluable.” That is absolutely true. It is just as true that photographs are cheap (like, virtually free) but the information they provide is invaluable.
No one can deny the importance of complete and detailed medical records. For one thing, keeping accurate records is a legal requirement. That aside, many of the conditions we encounter affecting the outer surfaces of the body (dermatology, ophthalmic, dental/oral) are largely assessed visually and subjectively. Trying to describe what you see today for comparison when you or a colleague sees it a week or two or a year or two later can be very difficult if you restrict yourself to words. So don’t. And having good photographs to share with clients can really aid in communication and education and this can boost client compliance.
Digital cameras are so good and so affordable today that there is no reason to not have one. While there are many on the market, I really like the one I have (I get no compensation for promoting this camera, by the way). I have the Ricoh WG-60 (the current model on offer is the WG-80). Some of the features I value in this small point-and-shoot camera are as follows:
- There is an array of LED spot-lights surrounding the lens and these lights are on whenever the camera is in digital-microscope (close-up) mode. This allows me to illuminate the field and compose the image, before hitting the shutter release.
- The camera is shockproof, so will sustain no damage if dropped or knocked about.
- The camera is waterproof so can be washed/decontaminated between uses.
- The digital microscope mode allow focusing within a few millimeters of the object
Whether you get this camera or one with similar features, you NEED to have a good digital clinic camera with LED lighting and excellent macro features. Do not rely on your phone because then the images are on your phone and may not be as accessible to other team members. And once you have this camera, use it… a lot! Take whole-mouth before and after photos of your dental patients, take photos of all skin lesions and ophthalmic problems, shoot videos of lameness exams or other abnormal behaviours. The value of these image files is immense, and it is so easy and affordable to get them. Just do it! From my perspective – when you see a dental or oral problem that you want advice on (from me. your local dental specialist, VIN…), please send nice, up-close, well lit, in-focus photos. It makes it so much easier for us to give you accurate advice when we have accurate photographic information about the situation. And pathologists love it when you send pre-op photos along with any samples you are sending to them. Again, it makes it much easier for them to orient and interpret the samples if they have those photos.
Here is my Ricoh WG-60. The current model on offer is the WG-80, which is just the most recent version at time of posting.
Here it is with the LED light on.
Here is the camera lying right on top of a roll of postage stamps to demonstrate the Digital Microscope mode. It literally could not get closer.
And here is the resulting image of that stamp, or at least as much of it as would fit in the frame. Now that is a close-up image.