Advanced visualization makes strong showing at RSNA 11
Lisa Fratt, Editor
Advanced visualization technology continues to play an important role across the enterprise. At the same time, strategies for best practices have not yet been defined as applications and approaches evolve. It’s critical to stay on top of clinical, informatics and practice considerations. Below are Health Imaging’s top picks for RSNA sessions in advanced visualization along with this past month's highlights in advanced visualization. 

There are multiple ways to slice and dice the information--by method, such as quantitative analysis, volume reading or image fusion; by clinical need, such as stroke imaging or cardiac analysis; or by benefits, such as accelerated decision making, increased diagnostic accuracy or cost savings.

Take a breath, and dive in. Perhaps start with Health Imaging’s comprehensive overview of the advantages and challenges facing advanced visualization.

One of the latest developments in advanced visualization is quantitative imaging, which could provide a more precise way to measure disease processes. The concept is still developing; keep your eyes out for advances and applications in the coming years.

Ischemic stroke is a clinical conundrum and hefty cost burden in the U.S. Tissue plasminogen-activator offers some hope, but its use is restricted to those within a brief time window of stroke. For up to one-quarter of patients, this time window is undefined. According to a recent study published in Lancet Neurology, diffusion-weighted MRI may help identify patients within the time window for safe administration of thrombolytic therapy. In addition, these MR datasets could help define which patients would benefit from therapy and which would not.

Other promising research addresses autism, as a study published online in the September issue of Biological Psychiatry indicated that multivariate pattern analysis of MRI brain-scan data differentiated children and adolescents with autism from neurotypical children. The finding could ultimately lead to a new process for diagnosing autism spectrum disorders as well as the development of early interventions.

Concerns about radiation exposure have led researchers to consider non-ionizing radiation modalities for some studies of sensitive patients. In June, researchers showed that MR enterography without anti-peristaltic agents offers diagnostic accuracy comparable to CT enterography for the presence or absence of Crohn’s disease, offering a protocol that eliminates ionizing radiation and reduces exam complexity and cost.

Other 2011 highlights centered on CT. For example, a meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in June suggested that the presence and extent of coronary artery disease detected during coronary CT angiography are strong, independent predictors of cardiovascular events.

Fusion imaging is another important research area ripe for advanced visualization technology. Earlier this year, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) demonstrated preliminary accuracy in the use of 3D ultrasound tracking and MR image fusion for biopsy of suspected prostate cancers. “Virtually all major cancers can be easily imaged within the organ of origin, but not [prostate cancer],” noted Natarajan et al.

And finally, on the immediately practical level, German researchers demonstrated that pairing 64-slice CT with volume image review yielded critical time savings in a simulated mass casualty incident. “This acceleration of the diagnostic process might have a good effect on a patient’s outcome because definitive treatment might be initiated earlier,” wrote Markus Korner, MD, department of clinical radiology at Munich University Hospital in Germany.

Be sure to pencil in (virtually) a few advanced visualization sessions at RSNA and subscribe to Health Imaging’s advanced visualization portal for the latest advanced visualization news. Finally, let us know how your department is leveraging the technology for better patient care, enhanced referring physician service or improved cost savings.

Lisa Fratt,
Editor, Health Imaging