Radiology Roundup: New Research, Tools, & Guidelines

2017-07-27
 

New innovations in radiology are emerging at an astonishing rate, frequently from unexpected places. The same technology that powers Pokemon Go may soon have a place in the radiology lab. A simple sugar solution might help reduce patient’s radiation exposure. These breakthroughs, both high and low tech, are stealthily shaping the way radiologists will work in the very near future.

This month’s roundup features an assessment of the current state of 3D imaging, a video on the emergence of artificial intelligence as a “radiologist’s assistant,” and the results of remarkable research into unconventional, radiation-free contrast agents.

Even as the state of the art keeps evolving, however, it’s important to look at the non-technology-driven aspects of radiology that clinicians use on a daily basis. To that end, you will also find a report on the new LI-RADS guidelines, and best practices for writing more accessible, useful reports.

1. Virtual & Augmented Reality May Remake Medical Imaging
Three-dimensional imaging provides a great deal more data to help guide diagnoses. However, most of this 3D data is still displayed on two-dimensional screens, introducing a layer of abstraction that can obscure key data points.

This article explores the ways virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) could change the way radiologists process data. Virtual environments could allow radiologists to interact with 3-dimensional scans in a 3-dimensional space. Augmented reality can overlay extra data on top of real-world objects, up to and including a living patient.

Read the full article to see how far the technology has progressed and what challenges lie ahead in implementing it.

2. Video: Machine Learning and the Future of Radiology
In this video interview from SIIM 2017, Eliot Siegel, M.D. explains how machine learning is helping train artificial intelligences for a clinical setting. Siegel explores the current state of the technology, explains how it’s being developed, and discusses how radiologists may use artificial intelligence in the very near future.

3. MRI without Contrast Agents? Yes, with Sugar!
Contrast agents in MRI scanning can enhance tissue structure imaging. Traditional contrast agents, however, can have adverse side effects for some patients. New research from the German Cancer Research Center has seen initial success with a new kind of contrast agent: A simple sugar solution.

Glucose is absorbed and broken down in body cells. Cancer cells have a higher metabolic rate for glucose than healthy cells, so by observing that metabolic activity, radiologists at the Center were able to differentiate between healthy cells and pathogenic ones.

4. CT/MRI LI-RADS v2017
The American College of Radiology just released an updated version of their Liver Imaging Reporting and Data System. The 33-page document and its supplemental material includes new algorithms for diagnosis and treatment response, managing and reporting guidance, and a frequently asked questions list.

5. Radiology Report: Satisfying Various Stakeholders
As health systems become more communicative and transparent, radiology reports need to evolve. Patients and referring providers alike require reports that are well-structured, clear, and free from “radiology-speak.”

This article offers nine quick tips for creating more accessible reports. But it also addresses some of the potential downsides to reports being made more widely available, to help radiologists determine the right level of patient and provider access for their reports.

Whether it’s a new contrast agent or a whole new way of looking at patient data, the practice of radiology continues to evolve. It’s important to stay current with the big innovations just over the horizon — but just as vital to continue to make incremental changes in day-to-day practice. Both types of change are equally important for guiding better patient outcomes.

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