Bring the Nose

March 6, 2010 § 3 Comments

Still from the animation film "Le Nez" by Alexander Alexeieff and Claire Parker.

There are a a few diagnoses that we take a standardized set of photos for, regardless of the individual patient. These sets provide the best photos of the diagnosis and assures consistency of documentation. One of these diagnoses is Deformatio Nasi or crooked nose. I don’t know if it’s because the photos are predetermined, but we always just call these patients “a nose”.

There’s a lot of guidelines on how to photograph different parts of the body for medical purposes, but in most cases you will have to adapt these to the individual patient and her manifest symptoms. Maybe it becomes a bit more personal in those cases compared to the more run-of-the-mill nose shots.

This is what normally happens: A nurse calls us from the ear, nose and throat (ENT) outpatient section: “Do you have time for a nose?” “Sure, send it up” I’ll reply. And if I’m not manning the studio that day, I’ll pass it on to B, the other photographer: “Hey B, there’s a nose on the way.”

Most of the time we don’t notice that we talk like this, but every now and then B will greet the arriving patient saying “Oh, so you’re the nose they’re all talking about” or “Are you the nose?”. The rest of the week I’ll think about giant Monty Python style noses roaming the corridors whenever a nose shoot is ordered.

On to the recommended set of photos:

  1. Frontal view. A photo of the patients head taken from the level of the nose.
  2. Left/Right profile. A photo taken at 90° to the nose. The photo could include the whole head, but is usually cropped just behind the ear canal opening.
  3. View from below. A photo taken from below with the tip of the nose aligned between the eye brows. This is usually cropped to include only the forehead, eyes, nose and mouth.
  4. Left/right 45° view. In some cases we also take a photo at 45° to the nose. This should include  both eyes and align the tip of the nose with the opposing cheek. Usually cropped as the profile photos.

I can’t publish any of our patient photos on the web, so for further reading and photo examples I’ll refer to this excellent guide from the Institute of Medical Illustrators (UK).

I mentioned Monty Python. Here’s a sketch about a man in want of some rhinoplasty:

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