Balancing act

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In healthcare, the ideal technologies deliver optimal quality while holding the line on costs. Accuracy is key. Achieving these occasionally competing outcomes represents a challenging, but wholly doable, balancing act.

Advanced visualization can play a central role.

In the last month, Japanese researchers demonstrated that adding SPECT/CT to whole-body scintigraphy with Iodine 131 can deliver incremental diagnostic value compared with scintigraphy alone in patients diagnosed with thyroid cancer. SPECT/CT more clearly localizes and defines hot spots.

In a study published online Sept. 25 in  Radiology, researchers found the addition of SPECT/CT changed the interpretation of radioactive foci at scintigraphy in 40 of 147 patients, which changed clinical staging according to tumor-node-metastasis classification and therapeutic planning in nine and three patients, respectively.  

Similarly, adding a diffusion-weighted MR sequence to conventional dynamic contrast-enhanced MR emerged as a potential method to differentiate high-risk breast lesions from nonmalignant subtypes. Thus, the quantitative technique might reduce the rate of preventable breast biopsies, which could, in turn, curb costs and improve outcomes.  

These and other studies provide a glimpse of the future of image-guided decision-making.

This month’s portal also previews other futuristic applications of advanced visualization. Be sure to check out the “Hola AMIGO!” slide show. It details the world’s first intraoperative operating suite housed at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. Multimodality integration plays a central role in the suite, which is designed to enable surgeons and researchers to introduce and share a wide range of image-guided procedures.

Meanwhile, in Canada, a consortium of institutions detailed the promise of a 3D virtual reality surgical simulator. Conventional surgical training can decrease operating room efficiency by as much as 35 percent. In contrast, the virtual 3D approach is efficient and cost-effective, according to early users. Use of the system may be extended to patient-specific rehearsal based on the conversion of patient imaging data into simulation models, which might ultimately translate into increased efficiency and improved outcomes.

How is your organization leveraging advanced visualization to achieve its goals? Please let us know.

Lisa Fratt, editor