radiology mri komodo dragon radedasia

The Answer to medical burnout…

No matter how interested you are in your work and how interesting the work is, I think everyone gets to a point where it starts to become routine and you start looking for something to light up the day. That’s what was happening to me until….

I got a call from Dr Paolo Martelli who was the chief vet at Singapore Zoo. Tirto one of the prized Komodo Dragons at the Singapore Zoo was unwell with no diagnosis after multiple investigations and treatments and had even had acupuncture (pretty brave zoo keeper to try that 😅).

Paolo and I were very interested in imaging animals and had scanned a variety of animals and reptiles, so in desperation, Tirto arrived at the scanner to have an MRI of his brain to see if there was any neurodegeneration. It became a bit of a circus as media from all over the world turned up to film it (not every day a komodo turns up at the office). Ms Inainee Abu Bakar our chief MRI Radiographer, small in size but big in presence, had to scold them and physically prevent them from entering the scan room with their cameras! 

Now let me state the obvious and say that my experience in scanning Komodo Dragons was and continues to be limited 🙂 Tirto, nicely sedated, was blissfully unaware that he was the first Komodo dragon we had scanned, so no awkward questions on how much experience I had..🤐

SO WHAT DID WE FIND? No Komodo neuro atlas to refer to, but we found what looked like a normal symmetrical brain with no masses or abnormal signal. The brain was the size of a walnut 🧠. That’s pretty incredible given their body size. Also the optic nerves were huge and the frontal lobes relatively big. I suppose that’s pretty much what you need to hunt, reproduce and live. And no we didn’t recommend a follow up scan but did suggest Clinical Correlation !! Unfortunately Tirto progressively deteriorated.

For some, alleviating the felling of everything becoming routine is to seek excitement by doing something that is totally unrelated like trading crypto or stocks or planning the next holiday in between reporting. But I think a better way is breaking up the day/week by doing something that’s not routine but still leverages on the skills you have, whether that’s scanning animals, archaeology artefacts, research or teaching or whatever else that’s of interest to you. For learning this I’m very thankful to Paolo. Still get a thrill from scanning animals. And for the next Komodo dragon that comes, rest assured I do now have experience… of one 😃

Photos from Straits Times and Berita Harian.
2nd Image Dr Paolo Martelli and Ms Inainee Abu Bakar and Tirto

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