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Three people stand behind a full-body radiology phantom lying on a table.

New Full-Body Radiology Phantom Enhances Student Learning

Students in Logan University’s Radiographic Positioning and Foundations of Diagnostic Imaging courses are now able to practice patient positioning and exposure techniques using a new Erler-Zimmer radiology phantom that was delivered in October.

A highly specialized object used in medical imaging for education, the new phantom contains a human skeleton as well as outlines of the larynx, lungs, heart and kidneys, which enables students to take real X-ray images. With moveable joints, the phantom can also be arranged into many different imaging positions.

A full-body radiology phantom lies on a table in a laboratory“When students set up positions on each other, they are not making exposures; therefore, they do not have an image to evaluate their positioning and technical factors,” said Cheryl Burtle, DC (’99), RT(R)(ARRT), assistant professor. “Creating radiographic images using the phantom enables students to identify errors and critically think through solutions that will improve image quality.”

Before acquiring the full-body phantom, Logan only had foot, hand, thorax, elbow and lumbar spine phantoms.

“We have sectional teaching phantoms, but positioning them does not simulate interacting with a real person,” Dr. Burtle said. “Now that we have a full-body phantom, there’s so much more we can do to allow students to simulate radiographic exams on patients and make exposures.”

An exposure of a spine on a monitor

The students and faculty who have interacted with the phantom were impressed. “Last week I showed the phantom to a group of trimester 4 students, and even though they are still early along in their education for radiology, they were amazed and excited that she has all the bones in the human body and thrilled with the quality of the images that can be made.”

Dr. Burtle believes additional students in other courses will also have the opportunity to interact with the phantom in the future.

“A Doctor of Chiropractic student recently came into the lab to practice radiographic positioning, but he didn’t have anyone to work with,” Dr. Burtle said. “Rather than setting up equipment without a ‘patient,’ he was able to use the phantom instead. I’m sure we’ll be able to incorporate the phantom into student learning in a variety of ways.”

Located in room SB8 of the Science & Research Building, Dr. Burtle encourages the Logan community to come see the new phantom for themselves.