The next generation of radiology is to be hotly debated at one of the largest medical meetings in Europe. The European Congress of Radiology (ECR) begins in Vienna on February 28 and will include a program focusing on current trends and the direction of medical imaging. MedicalExpo e-magazine highlights five of these current trends in radiology.
1. Personalized Approaches
Radiologist Ivana Blažić, MD, PhD, radiologist, with a sub-specialization in oncology, is MRI Section Head at Clinical Hospital Centre Zemun, Belgrade. According to her, oncologic imaging is vital right from screening for early-stage tumors, through diagnosis of disease and tumor staging, to follow-up with monitoring tumor response and possible cancer recurrence. She explained:
“The most important current trend in modern oncology is personalized approach—tumor treatment which is tailored according to the patient’s need.
Personalized medicine or precision medicine takes into account tumor variability in genes, tumor environment, and lifestyle and morbidities of each patient with cancer, offering each patient the best possible cancer treatment option.
Oncologic imaging goes in line with this trend, making it very interesting and sometimes pretty demanding.”
2. Sustainable Radiology
The current trend towards more sustainable medicine and healthcare will also be under discussion. Medical manufacturers are moving towards more environmentally conscious equipment that is smarter and more efficient.
Reed A. Omary, MD, MS, the Carol D. and Henry P. Pendergrass Professor of Radiology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, said:
“For the most part, health systems have had a pass at not worrying about their contributions to carbon emissions.
However, as healthcare contributes roughly five per cent of global carbon emissions, and we experiencing the warmest period in human-caused climate change, we no longer have that luxury.
I’ve been very excited to watch the field of radiology evolve to taking care of both patients and the planet. As our specialty is known for innovation, we can play a major leadership role to influence the green transition for all of healthcare.”
3. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
According to Prof. Jacob Sosna, Chairman of Radiology, Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center, Jerusalem, the emergence of AI tools for improved diagnosis and patient care has to be ranked as one of the most exciting current trends. He said:
“At this stage, it is mainly narrow-based and intended for single applications, such as pulmonary embolism diagnosis or brain bleeds.
However, in the long term, it can help the radiologist in a comprehensive way taking into account prior history, prior studies and multiple modalities.
I foresee AI as a virtual resident that is helpful and saves time in reading cases but is not perfect and one that can improve with time.
For radiology departments and hospital administrators, the issue of the added cost and the complexity of additional IT solutions may be problematic and needs clarification and simplification for widespread use.”
4. Interventional Neuroradiology
There is a current trend towards the increased use of interventional neuroradiology in the treatment of strokes, aneurysms and arteriovenous malformation malformations, as well as the embolization of brain tumors.
Interventional Neuroradiologist Aleksandra Aracki-Trenkic, Assistant Professor of Radiology at the University Clinical Center of Nis, Serbia, explained:
“Navigating through blood vessels solely through a small incision in the groin carries significantly lower risks of complication, and allows faster recovery and lower rehabilitation costs compared to open surgery.
The most current therapy in this area is stroke treatment, involving the opening of closed blood vessels and achieving reperfusion of brain tissue. There are numerous technical interventions for thrombus removal and continuous improvement of catheters and stents results in almost 100% successful outcomes.
Proper choice of the intervention ie the right choice of the material and an adequate technique applied at the appropriate time, requires advanced diagnostics.”
5. Predictive Models
Sandra Mechó Meca MD, PhD, Radiologist in the Radiology Department of the Hospital de Barcelona (Spain), is a specialist in diagnosis and the follow-up of muscle injuries in athletes. She suggested:
“One trend in radiology within the field of muscle injury is the creation of predictive models. The main component that marks the prognosis of a muscle injury is the amount of damaged connective tissue.
There are several studies that have shown that, depending on the amount of connective tissue affected and the specific histoarchitectural levels involved, the injury will lead to a longer return to play time with a greater probability of a torpid evolution.”
But, she said, there are always exceptions and this is where predictive models can help.
“By analyzing data and carrying out multiple data combinations we can create predictive models that increasingly adjust the predictions in such a way that with a good diagnosis and collection of multiple data we can detect athletes with a higher risk of injury when faced with the same type of injury.”