By Sheila Shirah
Knowledgeable, professional, and personable, Dr. Tejal Patel is a wonderful asset to the Osceola Regional Imaging Center. When asked about her decision to pursue radiology, she stated that she was introduced to radiology during her clinical rotations in medical school. Upon realizing it was much more than sitting in a dark room looking at x-rays, she fell in love. “It was something I felt like I was meant to do…I was lucky, I knew what I wanted to do based off my rotations.”, said Dr. Patel. She completed a combined fellowship in women’s imaging and musculoskeletal magnetic resonance imaging (MSK MRI) at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Once Dr. Patel completed her residency and fellowship, she accepted a job at the Osceola Regional Imaging Center. She has been providing quality care and timely results to women in our area for the past eight years. The imaging center is an all-encompassed “one stop” shop, providing everything from annual screenings, to diagnostic exams/ultrasounds, to biopsies. There is also a breast care coordinator available to aid in the steps that come after a biopsy, such as setting up appointments with the surgeon. Having all of this provided in one location helps prevent losing women in the shuffle between various hospitals and doctors’ offices. In addition to the convenience of being able to complete the screening and diagnostic process in one place, the Osceola Regional Imaging Center accepts walk-ins for an annual screening. Dr. Patel expressed that one of the most satisfying parts of her profession is that she can see the whole process through, from detection to treatment. The Imaging Center also provides pelvic ultrasounds and bone density scans, and provides other outpatient procedures in addition to the Breast Care Center.
Early detection and early treatment are extremely crucial. Dr. Patel stressed the importance of beginning your annual screening at the age of 40-or even sooner if you have a first degree relative (mother, sister, and/or daughter) who has had breast cancer. It is also significant to keep in mind that as many as 70-80% of breast cancer cases are not related to family history, so even if you have no relatives who have ever been diagnosed with breast cancer you still need to be proactive and avoid falling into the false belief of “since no one in my family has it I won’t either”. She also spoke of the importance of performing a monthly self-exam on yourself to ensure your familiarity with the contour and texture of your own breasts, since every woman is different. “If you feel something different, do not wait or hesitate-go get it checked, no matter your age”, she reminded, “it is very important to be vigilant on your own”. Even if you are in between annual screenings, the emergence of any new lumps or the presence of any discharge means you should schedule an appointment to come back in and have that checked out.
Considering the facts that the Osceola Regional Imaging Center accepts walk in patients in addition to offering appointments, allows women to complete the entire diagnostic process in one spot, and aids in managing the steps of the process beyond their office (referrals, surgery, etc.), what could possibly make a local woman hesitant about getting her annual screening done? “The two most common misconceptions about mammograms is that they hurt, and that there is too much radiation,” Dr. Patel said. She then went on to elaborate that there is a slight discomfort associated with a mammogram, because there must be some pressure and compression in order to provide accuracy. However, it is nothing that cannot be tolerated, and there is padding and other advancements that have been made to the equipment in the past ten years that keeps discomfort to a minimum. There is also very minimal exposure to radiation, contrary to popular belief. During the initial screening only four pictures are taken, and even if additional tests are needed the exposure to radiation from that is nothing compared to what the end result would be if you just ignored it. To put it into perspective, the slight amount of radiation from a mammogram is something you encounter only once per year, but every time you fly on an airplane you are also exposing yourself to radiation.
The Osceola Regional Imaging Center is located at 730 West Oak Street in Kissimmee, located near the hospital. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:00-4:30. Their walk-in availability includes CT, MRI, screening mammograms, x-rays, and dexa scans. They have digital x-ray, digital mammogram, and 3 Tesla (3T) MRI, which is very sensitive and has the ability to detect even tiny lesions. “The quality and resolution of the digital mammograms is phenomenal”, Dr. Patel stated when asked about the technology. She also said she hopes an increasing number of services become more inclined about using breast MRI’s instead of depending on going straight to surgery. These MRI’s can help the doctor learn more about what is going on inside the tissue, and are also very helpful to surgeons for both pre-op and post-op planning.
When she is not on duty providing premier care to women, Dr. Patel is still an incredibly busy woman. She is a member of CAPI (the Central Florida Association of Physicians from the Indian Subcontinent), treasurer of the Indian Physicians Association, regional medical director for the radiology group Envision, emcees and hosts events for the Gujarati Society of Central Florida, serves as the Vice President of her Home Owners Association, and is on the Windermere Prep Volunteer Board where she serves as head of the lower school for parent volunteering. Her two sons play baseball and her husband is a physician of internal medicine. Traveling with their kids is a favorite for Dr. Patel. She was also a guest speaker at the Osceola Woman Magazine Women of Influence Luncheon on October 12th at Osceola Heritage Park, where she was a fan favorite due to her down to earth personality and extensive knowledge. The women of Osceola County are fortunate to have Dr. Patel and the Osceola Regional Imaging Center in our area!