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Mobile Imaging Center Rolls At Tour De France

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The imaging capabilities of the mobile medical center that rolled for the first time along with the bicyclists at the just-completed Tour de France race this year may not have been a total boon to at least one competitor.

In previous years, riders injured during the race had to do what anyone else would do: visit the nearest hospital—which sometimes was not very near—and wait to be tested and treated. This year, the tour featured its own rolling hospital: a 500,000-euro (about $662,000) mobile medical center.

The medical truck included a lead-lined X-ray room and an ultrasound machine. It allowed riders to learn the extent of injuries quickly, giving them the option of remaining in the race. Denis Jacob, MD, a radiologist from Dijon, told VeloNews magazine:

This is a very quick diagnostic. In a half hour we can get the diagnostic, so you win time. And all the radiologists are specialists in sport. We understand the problems.

The medical center even had a shower to allow riders to clean cuts and abrasions. Injuries to the head or spine still required treatment at a regular hospital, but the mobile center could handle just about anything else.

At the Tour de France, Dr. Jacob said, “This is the first time for the truck. But I’m every year on the Dakar rally. I have 12 Dakars. This year we are also doing BMX, motocross, and the world championships of motocross.”

The Dakar rally is a series of off-road motorsports races in Europe and Africa. “BMX” is bicycle motocross, a bicycle version of off-road–style motorcycle racing.

VeloNews reported that the availability of on-site X-ray imaging was a factor in the decision by French cyclist Jean-Christophe Péraud to continue racing after suffering a broken collarbone just three days before the end of the tour. Péraud was in ninth place and might have managed to gut out a top-10 finish in the race. So when he fell during a morning training ride, the quick diagnosis of a nondisplaced fracture led him to decide that the risk of continuing was acceptable. But he crashed again the same day, falling on his injured shoulder, and had to withdraw.

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