Medical Fun Facts Episode 53: Flood water soft tissue infections

Medical Fun Facts Episode 53: Flood water soft tissue infections

Australian listeners will know that over the last week we’ve witnessed Tropical Cyclone Debbie doing a number on the east coast of Australia with significant damage to parts of central Queensland and severe flooding in south-east Queensland and north-east New South Wales.

It got me thinking about water-borne soft tissue infections. So, as a little departure from the ‘diagnostics series’ I wanted to talk about water-borne soft tissue infections.

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Medical Fun Facts Episode 52: Limitations of diagnostic tests

Medical Fun Facts Episode 52: Limitations of diagnostic tests

In my day job, especially on Fridays, I get asked about the reliability and accuracy of diagnostic tests. Part of my work involves serology or immunoassay, the interpretation of results and giving advice to referring medical practitioners on how to interpret the results they have in front of them. I also use this knowledge when writing advice for policy development in my role as an adviser.

Diagnostic tests are never perfect. False positive and false negative results occur. How much of a problem these false results may cause depends on the clinical context in which a test is used. This underlines the importance of the clinical or medical context in laboratory medicine, especially for pathologists whose job is to bridge the gap between the patient and the test tube. One of the most frustrating things for pathologists and medical laboratory scientists is the absence of relevant clinical information on referral forms.

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Medical Fun Facts Episode 51: Genital infections

Medical Fun Facts Episode 51: Genital infections

So, let’s dive into genitals. Diagnosing genital infections has a lot of overlap with sexually transmitted infections. Not all genital infections however, are transmitted by sexual contact. For example, yeast infections in men and women as well as balanitis in men who have no concept of penis hygiene.

For the life of me I cannot understand why some men don’t clean themselves properly and don’t clean under their foreskins. Cheesy smegma can’t be something a bloke wants to encourage especially if he wants any sexual action. This point was a special one for Lauren from Mouthy Broadcast.

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Medical Fun Facts Episode 50: Gram’s stain

Medical Fun Facts Episode 50: Gram’s stain

As I mentioned in episode 49, my favourite test in microbiology is the Gram’s stain. This test is named after Hans Christian Gram. Gram was a Danish medical doctor who lived from 1853 to 1938. He developed his staining method in 1884.

He described a differential staining method which would separate bacteria based on the structure of the cell wall as well as the shape of the bacteria. Bacteria, in general, are either Gram-positive or Gram-negative. Some bacteria, like the mycobacteria do not stain well because of the waxy mycolic acid in their cell walls. Some bacteria are Gram-variable and do not stain predictably. A good example is Gardnerella vaginalis which is involved in the complex disease known as bacterial vaginosis. Gardnerella vaginalis is a small Gram-variable bacterium that attaches to vaginal epithelial cells.

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Medical Fun Facts Episode 49: Sputum microbiology

Medical Fun Facts Episode 49: Sputum microbiology

So, what is sputum? Sputum is the material (or phlegm) that is coughed or expectorated from the lower respiratory tract, that’s mainly the bronchi. While true sputum reflects the lower respiratory tract, to get it out, it must pass through the upper respiratory tract, which means sputum is prone to contamination with material in the throat and mouth, especially the bacteria in the mouth and sometimes the nose if the patient also has rhinorrhoea (a runny nose).

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