Advanced viz drives value

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Lisa Fratt, Editor

Value, in imaging, is a difficult concept. In an ideal healthcare model, an imaging study provides useful data to inform diagnosis and decision-making without incurring excessive current or downstream costs.

As I scroll through this month’s advanced visualization news, I’m excited to see multiple examples that demonstrate the value of imaging and advanced visualization.

One of the most intriguing developments comes from Children’s Hospital Boston, where researchers have leveraged functional MRI to depict differences in the brains of preschoolers at risk for developmental dyslexia. Currently, dyslexia often remains undiagnosed until mid-grade school or later and children may develop negative behaviors in the interim between the onset of reading difficulties and diagnosis.

“Identifying a learning disability around mid-elementary school is oftentimes too late, as the delayed development may have already affected a child’s vocabulary skills and motivation to read,” according to Nora Raschle, PhD, of the laboratories of cognitive neuroscience at Children’s.

And MRI has again demonstrated its value in oncology imaging in two separate studies. In a cohort of 104 men with prostate cancer scheduled for robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy, preoperative MRI led to changes in the surgical plan for 27 percent of the patients.  “Our surgeons feel that, compared with clinical information alone, MRI is worthwhile for all patients, because it identifies important information leading to a change in the surgical plan in almost a third of patients,” offered Daniel J. A. Margolis, MD, assistant professor of radiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

However, Margolis pointed to the need for more standardized methods for acquiring and interpreting prostate MR data.

Meanwhile, Italian researchers offered compelling evidence to suggest that women with two types of high-risk breast lesions and normal MRI results can avoid surgical excision and instead undergo clinical and imaging follow-up.

Both examples demonstrate that advanced imaging can lead to better patient care and potentially curb downstream spending.

In other instances, imaging stakeholders are shining the light on potential gaps and showing that they are best-equipped to control utilization.

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston have shown that newer, more rapid CT angiography protocols, which are not used in clinical practice, can overestimate the size of a stroke infarct and incorrectly exclude some patients from thrombolytic therapy.

Finally, a study and accompany editorial published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology demonstrated that CT angiography may be a less effective test to exclude or confirm the presence of coronary artery disease for patients with calcium scores greater than 600.

How is your organization defining and demonstrating value in advanced visualization? Let us know.

Lisa Fratt, editor