Research: What You Should Know About Chiropractic, Medical Doctors, And Radiology

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016
Woman looking at x ray of a spine

As a chiropractor myself, I am often faced with a preconceived notion from new patients, or from people that don’t know any better, that chiropractors are less educated than other healthcare practitioners. Obviously, and admittedly I’m biased, I’m going to argue to the contrary.

I know the educational regimen and requirements that I and my colleagues went through. Our education, much like the education of medical doctors or osteopaths, is a full time job. When taking 33 hours per semester, there is truly little time for anything else, including family. So, to continually feel the need to defend your education as a result of general misconceptions can be frustrating at the least.

It needs to be pointed out that any time I highlight educational points for chiropractors and educational requirements of other professions, it is never to denigrate other professions. I truly believe that the patient wins when there is a combined effort in the treatment protocol. I highly respect and value all healthcare professions and practitioners.

The goal is to contrast and compare education levels so that the reader and healthcare consumer can be better educated and make a more informed decision overall.

In that spirit, let’s dive into the research.

Why they did it

The authors’ stated objectives in this study were to compare medical students and chiropractic students by testing their knowledge when evaluating x-ray images of the low back spine and of the pelvis. Although low back pain, and resulting radiology studies, continues to be a large part of healthcare complaints and emergency room visits, there has never been a comparison of the practitioners that are likely to be the ones reading these x-rays.

How they did it

  • This paper was a controlled comparison of x-ray interpretation based on experience and training.
  • 496 volunteers
  • The volunteers were from nine target groups
  • Participants completed a test of x-ray interpretation
  • The exam had 19 cases all with important x-ray findings
  • The nine groups consisted of 22 medical students, 183 chiropractic students, 27 medical radiology residents, 13 chiropractic radiology residents, 66 medical clinicians, 46 chiropractic clinician’s, 48 general medical radiologists, 55 chiropractic radiologists, and 36 skeletal radiologists and fellows

What they found

  • There were significant differences found among the professional groups.
  • Skeletal radiologists had significantly better testing and all other medical groups
  • The test results were better for general medical radiologists and medical radiology residents than for those of medical clinicians
  • The results for the medical students were significantly poor than all of the other medical groups.
  • There was no difference in the performance of chiropractic clinicians and chiropractic students
  • Here’s the biggie! The test results for the chiropractic radiologists, the chiropractic radiology residents, and the chiropractic students were significantly higher than that of the corresponding medical categories.
  • Also, there was no significant difference in the testing results between chiropractic radiologists and skeletal radiologists.

Wrap it up

All that needs to be repeated for me personally, considering the results, is the fact that the test results for chiropractic radiologists, chiropractic radiology residents, and chiropractic students were significantly higher than that of the corresponding medical categories. Also, there was no difference between the chiropractic radiologists and the skeletal radiologist. Considering the skeletal radiologists were the best of all other medical groups, Chiropractic radiologists, by default, were also better than all other medical groups.

What that means in my interpretation is that you would rather have a chiropractor reading your x-ray images when given the option. Plain and simple.

Taylor JA, et. al. “Interpretation of abnormal lumbosacral spine radiographs. A test comparing students, clinicians, radiology residents, and radiologists in medicine and chiropractic” Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1995 May 15;20(10):1147-53

Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me your thoughts. I’d love to hear what you think.

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Till next time……

The Amarillo Chiropractor Blog is written by Dr. Jeff Williams.
Amarillo TX Amarillo Pain & Accident Chiropractic Clinic provides customized chiropractic care to the Amarillo, Canyon, Pampa, Happy, White Deer, Dumas, Groom, Conway, Panhandle, Claude, Clarendon, Borger, Tulia, Hereford, Fritch, Bushland, and Vega communities.

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by Jeff S. Williams, D.C.
Chiropractor in Amarillo
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