The Facebook photo scan: a new medical procedure?

Published On: Aug 24 2012 03:27:52 PM EDT

Doctors may have good reason to check your Facebook photos say doctors from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. They recently used Facebook pictures to help figure out what caused a woman's stroke.

According to an article on doctors at Mayo recently used Facebook pictures to help figure out what caused a woman's stroke.

The 56-year-old woman didn't have classic stroke risk factors, such as smoking or high blood pressure, and she was fairly young, says neurologist Manoj Mittal. So doctors wanted to dig for possible causes.

Some clues soon arose: "I saw her and noticed her eyelid was drooping on one side," says Mittal. Also, one of her pupils was smaller than the other, according to a report published in BMJ Case Reports. Neurologists know those signs can be linked with an internal tear in a carotid artery -- one of the big blood vessels that go through the neck and carry blood to the brain. A torn artery also can become blocked and cause a stroke.

"She logged into her Facebook page and she had a good sample of pictures. We found several recent photographs that did not show the droopy eyelid."

With that information in hand, Mittal asked some more questions and found that just two days earlier, the woman had seen a chiropractor and had her neck manipulated -- something that could have caused trauma that led to her stroke and her droopy eyelid. Mystery solved.

A Facebook scan may never be part of a routine doctor's visit. But Mittal suspects it will be used in similar cases in which a little before and after photo detective work can answer a medical question.


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