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[ECR 2024] Ticket to Innovation in Radiology

[ECR 2024] Ticket to Innovation in Radiology
New software tools, radiomics, computer-aided detection are among the advances showcased at ECR 2024. (Credit: ECR)

New technologies, pioneering approaches and exciting innovations in radiology will be under the spotlight when European Congress of Radiology (ECR) begins in Vienna.

The event, one of Europe’s largest conventions of medical experts, launches on February 28 and will see vigorous debate and discussion on several cutting-edge advances. Exhibitors will showcase new technologies and experts will highlight techniques they believe will enhance patient care and improve working conditions for medical professionals.

New Software Tools

Stuart Taylor, Professor of Medical Imaging at University College London, for example, will be eager to discuss advances in luminal gastrointestinal (GI) disease. He said:

“There are exciting developments that will improve our ability to evaluate, monitor and prognosticate to improve patient management and outcomes.

In luminal GI imaging there is a strong move towards radiomics, a quantitative approach to medical imaging, which enhances available data available through mathematical analysis. Integration of data from multimodality imaging is also receiving increasing attention. 

Taking Crohn’s disease as an example, use of cross-sectional imaging for disease detection and assessment has relied on evaluation of various imaging signs by reporting radiologists which is subjective, leading to interobserver variability.

This approach also underutilizes the rich data available in the image, particularly around bowel function. New software tools have been developed to automatically segment diseased bowel and provide quantitative metrics which are related to the underlying histopathology, giving a more detailed measure of clinically relevant processes such as inflammation and fibrosis. 

Such tools are particularly applied to MRI.”

(Credit: ESR)
(Credit: ECR)

According to him, software can also now automatically quantify peristaltic movement in the bowel which is related to disease activity and may be a useful objective tool to monitor treatment effect. The increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) to further mine clinically useful hidden data in the images is also increasing. 

He added:

“There is also a move to increase the use of ultrasound in the management of inflammatory bowel disease with cumulative data supporting its utility as a powerful adjunct to other cross-sectional imaging techniques. 

Software quantification of ultrasound data provides its own challenges but research is apace to develop tools to automate disease assessment on this modality too and allow cross-modality integration of imaging data, including endoscopy.”

Radiomics in Different Fields

Sandra Mechó Meca MD, PhD, Radiologist in the Radiology Department of the Hospital de Barcelona (Spain), a specialist in diagnosis and the follow-up of muscle injuries in athletes, highlights the move towards radiomics in the treatment of sports injuries too. She said:

“Our role as radiologists in the world of sports medicine is to find signs that help us anticipate an injury and thus detect those athletes who can benefit from primary prevention programs.

The tendon has always been the great unknown, we have seen many times pointing out anomalies within the tendon without understanding what they really mean. Radiomics seems to have a determining role in detecting foci or areas of the tendon at risk of injury.”

(Credit: Review on Radiomics for Brain Tumors)
(Credit: Review on Radiomics for Brain Tumors)

Radiologist Ivana Blažić, MD, PhD, radiologist, with a sub-specialization in oncology, MRI Section Head at Clinical Hospital Centre Zemun, Belgrade, says radiomics also has an increasing role to play in the treatment of cancer.

“Traditional imaging modalities, including multidetector CT, ultrasound and MR, as well as hybrid imaging modalities (PET/CT, PET/MR), have to follow the latest advances in genetics, molecular oncology and targeted therapies—and one example is radiomics. 

Also, there is an interesting approach of theranostics, a combination of the terms therapeutics and diagnostics.

This is used to describe the combination of using one radioactive agent to identify and a second radioactive agent to deliver therapy to treat the main tumor and any metastatic tumors.”

Computer-Aided Detection 

Among the dozens of exhibitors of new systems, solutions and products presenting cutting-edge technologies and innovations, will be contextflow. This Austrian start-up offers radiologists comprehensive, computer-aided detection support through its ADVANCE Chest CT product.

Julie Sufana, Chief Marketing Officer, explained:

“contextflow ADVANCE Chest CT looks for many findings at once in order to ensure nothing gets missed. 

The solution integrates directly into the picture archiving and communication system (PACS) to ensure the radiologist can proceed with their workflow as usual as much as possible.”

contextflow ADVANCE Chest CT - Timeline Nodule. (Credit: contextflow)
contextflow ADVANCE Chest CT – Timeline Nodule. (Credit: contextflow)

She continued:

“One of the solution’s features, TIMELINE, tracks changes in nodules over time, which is currently impossible within the given workflow. Rather, radiologists have to undergo a fairly lengthy process of looking at various scans, and interrater variability is high, so it’s hard to determine true progression or regression. 

Our system enables the radiologist to easily, consistently and objectively see treatment response. In addition, our malignancy scoring can enable the detection of lung cancer up to one year sooner, while still significantly reducing both false positives and false negatives.

It could also help save the patient from unnecessary invasive procedures or scans.”