Camera phones can help doctors diagnose uncommon problems

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/doi/10.1136/bmj.b2553

Taking photographs or video of unusual symptoms on an ordinary camera phone can help doctors diagnose uncommon problems, say researchers in an article published on bmj.com today.

For example, doctors in Norway describe the case of a 25 year old pregnant woman who reported frequent episodes of severe nipple pain.

The pain came whenever her fingers, toes or nipples got cold, such as when walking barefoot on a cold floor or taking a shower, and typically lasted between five and 15 minutes and was so painful as to bring her to tears.

Along with the pain, the colour of the nipples also changed; first white combined with a tingling pain (“tightening a vice screw”), then blue with a burning pain (“pouring acid”), and finally a red phase combined with numbness as the pain decreased. After the birth of her baby, the pain became so intense that she considered giving up breastfeeding.

She presented three photographs from her camera phone showing the colour changes of a typical episode.

With the help of these photographs, doctors diagnosed Raynaud’s phenomenon of the nipple. The patient was given treatment, her symptoms completely resolved within one week, and she was able to continue breastfeeding with no side effects.

Raynaud’s phenomenon is possibly an underdiagnosed case of nipple pain, conclude the authors, partly because primary health care workers are often not aware of this condition, and partly because the symptoms have vanished before the patient reaches the GP surgery.


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