There are several new developments afoot in the medical imaging world. Trends such as: multidisciplinary teams, big data, tomosynthesis, and patient engagement, among others. These themes gained traction through highly publicized research, making 2015 an exciting year for diagnostic imaging. According to Norman Yung, Chief Marketing Officer of Carestream, “Last year marked the time when certain trends were shown to have benefits, and this year will be the time when these ideas are put into practice among a larger portion of the industry.”
Multidisciplinary Teams: This has allowed communication to flourish, benefitting healthcare organizations across the world. Dr. Marc Zins, Department of Radiology, Hôspital Saint-Joseph, explained the benefits using multidisciplinary teams in an interview, saying, “The quality of the communication throughout the department improved immensely, the department became better organized and have implemented new processes and protocols that have improved efficiency, it has become easier to sustain quality time, and better communicate metrics to members across the team. If radiologists want a more prominent role within their organizations, then forming and joining multidisciplinary teams is a must.”
Tomosynthesis: According to the Radiological Society of North America, tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography, increases cancer detection and reduces the instances of a patient being called in for further tests. Tomosynthesis is similar to mammography in that it relies on ionizing radiation to generate images of the breast. However, unlike conventional mammography, tomosynthesis allows for three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of the breast tissue, which can then can be viewed as sequential slices through the breast.
The 3D imaging is instrumental is discovering small lung nodules and chest pathologies that can go undetected with more traditional imaging methods. With stronger visibility, tomosynthesis can outline cancer morphology in patients and more easily determine the stage of the disease. 3D imaging is expected to grow in all markets this year.
Reporting/Data: The rise in reporting software has enabled treatment providers to be better informed when making important decisions. “Reporting software can reduce errors, improve productivity with automatic inclusion of data from modalities, embed clinically rich insight such as key images and multi-media content, quantitative analysis, or lesion management graphs into the final report.” remarked Norman Yung. This gives the radiologist comprehensive insight that help make the most accurate diagnosis.
Real-Time Imaging and Image Fusion: During one of the seminars, the Mayo Clinic’s Douglas Packer presented his work (video), in which he uses multiple imaging modalities for guiding intracardiac and noninvasive extracorporeal ablation, finding that combining real-time imaging and fusing modalities provides the best results.
Pre-procedure CT/MR imaging, for example, provides global views if the anatomy while ultrasound offers a localized view of the region. Accurate registration during overlay of these images is critical to effective diagnosis and treatment, added Parker. Especially in regards to navigating catheter paths through the heart, he said, and in using stain and voltage measurements to locate irregularities.
Automated Cancer Diagnostic Tools: The Digital Pathology conference featured a session on gastro-intestinal and genito-urinary cancer, which revealed new automated diagnostic tools for clinical decisions. Marios Garrielides of the U.S. FDA presented work on an ovarian cancer observer study concluding that observer performance is subtype specific; and Faisal Kahnm Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, showed that protein biomarkers and immunofluorescent images combined with glandular morphometric features performed better when used together than alone as predictors in prostate cancer.
Patient Engagement: With electronic medical records becoming the norm, medical images are increasingly becoming involved in this arena. Patients who use these online portals are more likely to access and share their medical images. One study, performed by IDR Medical and Carestream Health, found that 68% of patients surveyed were very interested in accessing medical images — as well as the clinical notes accompanying the images – and it was “extremely likely” they would do so if given the opportunity.
With so many exciting developments, it is easy to see that the next frontier in diagnostic imaging has arrived. With not only better technology to help prevent disease, but better access to all relevant data points in your chart, it is a great time to schedule your check-up.