Advanced viz makes its case
Lisa Fratt, Editor
Advanced visualization technology continues to advance, as confirmed by a host of current superusers from neuroradiologists to cardiologists to surgeons. The technology, however, may be constrained by the current fiscal climate, which is clamping down on bundled codes used for many studies that leverage advanced visualization. The onus may be on the technology to demonstrate improved efficiency and better patient outcomes.

It’s certainly achievable. In fact, researchers plugging away at the laboratory bench are expanding the technology’s bag of tricks, aiming to further boost its clinical value and hone efficiency.

Take for example a new tool devised by a German research team and examined in a recent study in the July issue of Radiology. It demonstrated that advanced visualization can solve an ongoing, and not uncommon, clinical dilemma.

Carotid endarterectomy or carotid stent placement can improve outcomes for patients with transient ischemic attacks at risk of stroke. However, imaging mechanisms for clearly delineating which patients might benefit from the procedures are less than adequate and not easily reproducible.

The researchers developed and evaluated a virtual elastic sphere that quantifies these measurements. The tool not only provides accurate, reproducible measurements that can guide clinical decision-making but also slashes the time radiologists spend determining these critical clinical measurements.

It is a win-win situation and exactly the type of capability (and evaluative study) the situation demands.

Another recent study published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine indicated that a PET score could serve as an imaging biomarker for progression from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer's disease.

The implications are profound as the score improves current mechanisms depends on neuropsychologic tests. It means that researchers conducting clinical trials of drugs to forestall progression to Alzheimer's disease may be able to use a smaller sample size or shorten the length of study. Either option is certainly welcome as both may save time and money and ultimately benefit patients.

What advances do you foresee on the advanced visualization horizon? Please let us know.

Lisa Fratt
Editor of Health Imaging