Medical Student Angela Udongwo is on a Mission to Educate Physicians on interpreting X-rays of Black Patients with Braids, Locs, and Twists.

Angela Udongwo, a Nigerian-American medical student at Temple University, is actively addressing a critical issue in radiology regarding the interpretation of X-rays for Black patients with braids, twists, and locs. Her collaboration with her mentor, radiologist Hillel Maresky, aims to educate physicians on distinguishing between artifacts caused by these hairstyles and genuine signs of illness. This initiative is pivotal in ensuring Black patients receive precise and fair healthcare.

The challenge arises from the fact that common Black hairstyles can create opaque squiggles on X-ray images, potentially misinterpreted as indications of disease. The absence of comprehensive medical literature on interpreting these artifacts has led to diagnostic errors, resulting in unnecessary tests and radiation exposure for patients.

This issue is part of broader disparities within the field of radiology, stemming from historical institutional racism that marginalized Black patients and physicians. Instances where patients were asked to remove their braids, extensions, or wash their hair with specific instructions before X-rays underscore the systemic biases within healthcare.

Udongwo’s efforts to present early research findings at a Pennsylvania Radiology Society conference, along with the intention to create educational materials for radiologists, demonstrate a proactive approach to addressing this issue. By raising awareness and providing education, they aim to enhance medical practices and reduce disparities in interpreting imaging for patients with diverse hairstyles.

This initiative spearheaded by Udongwo and Maresky marks a significant step toward equitable healthcare practices and emphasizes the importance of considering diversity in medical education and diagnostics.

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

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