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Rediscovering radiology: New technologies and remedial action at the worksite

Journal article
Authors Hans Rystedt
Jonas Ivarsson
Sara Asplund
Åse (Allansdotter) Johnsson
Magnus Båth
Published in Social Studies of Science
Volume 41
Issue 6
Pages 867-891
ISSN 0306-3127
Publication year 2011
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Radiation Physics
The Linnaeus Centre for Research on Learning, Interaction, and Mediated Communication in Contemporary Society (LinCS)
Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Radiology
Pages 867-891
Language en
Keywords computed tomography, ethnomethodology, medical imaging, professional vision, radiology, workplace studies
Subject categories Pedagogy, Sociology, Radiological physics, Radiology


This study contributes to social studies of imaging and visualization practices within scientific and medical settings. The focus is on practices in radiology, which are bound up with visual records known as radiographs. The study addresses work following the introduction of a new imaging technology, tomosynthesis. Since it was a novel technology, there was limited knowledge of howto correctly analyse tomosynthesis images. To address this problem, a collective review session was arranged. The purpose of the present study was to uncover the practical work that took place during that session and to show how, and on what basis, new methods, interpretations and understandings were being generated. The analysis displays how the diagnostic work on patients’ bodies was grounded in two sets of technologically produced renderings. This shows how expertise is not simply a matter of providing correct explanations, but also involves discovery work in which visual renderings are made transparent. Furthermore, the results point to how the disciplinary knowledge is intertwined with timely actions, which in turn, partly rely on established practices of manipulating and comparing images. The embodied and situated reasoning that enabled radiologists to discern objects in the images thus display expertise as inherently practical and domain-specific.

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