You and me, we have Wikipedia. Radiologists, they have Radiopaedia. If you can get past the clinical language, you can see it for what it really is: An amazing cache of images that show the human body at its extreme limits. And a place to find (and share!) x-rays of weird stuff people have put up their butts.
Radiopaedia was founded by Dr. Frank Gaillard back in 2005, when he was studying to become a radiologist in Australia. As any doctor — or anyone who is weird and curious enough to spend her free time reading medical cases (hi, hello) — knows, there’s a lot of crazy shit that goes on in hospitals. Radiopaedia is an educational resource to share tutorials and knowledge about all things radiology, but it’s also little bit for amusement. Just a little.
The site is not particularly welcoming, especially for the lay hypochondriac googling his symptoms. A warning at the top reads, “This site is targeted at medical and radiology professionals, contains user contributed content, and material that may be confusing to a lay audience” aka STAY OUT NORMALS. But dig a little deeper, and you see flickers of a radiologist’s sense of humour.
Dr. Gaillard contributed many of the early images on the site, and they come with his wry observations. Take this X-ray of a deodorant bottle stuck up there (left), accompanied by the note, “It will take more than that to make things smell good.”
Or this note about an eggplant (right):
The shape of the eggplant means that once it’s [sic] equator has passed the anal verge it has a tendency to scoot up up and away. When that happens… well, it means an embarrassing trip to the emergency department, or perhaps the local horticultural society.
So how does one treat such cases? Well, if you’ve ever really, really needed to poop (because we are all human after all), then you know that a full rectum very strongly activates that reflex. It can be helped along, though, by forceps, abdominal pressure, or — this sounds like the worst option — inflating the bladder through a catheter to push it along. Wee!
If you’re interested in learning about the limits of the human rectum (why not?), I recommend a chapter in Mary Roach’s excellent book Gulp about prison smuggling. She wisely points out that the human rectum evolved for storage, so using it for storage of other things is, well, still kind of using it for its intended purpose. It’s really crazy how many cell phones can fit up there.
The human rectum is an amazing thing. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. And a website where you can celebrate(?) it? Pretty cool too.