The melding of radiology and information technology (IT) was perhaps never more pronounced as it was at last month's 89th edition of the Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

With the theme of "Communication for Better Patient Care," attendees could hardly walk through the exhibit halls or view a workshop without hearing talk of data volume, RIS-PACS, faster scan times for all modalities and better access to images. In the imaging modalities, CT and MRI are advancing to produce more, higher resolution images in less scan time.

Excitement was clearly in the air, in well-attended poster sessions and around the exhibit halls overflowing with new product and upgrade debuts. More clinicians traveled to the meeting, a jump of 4 percent to approximately 25,469 (unaudited) over 2002, while exhibitors brought 6 percent fewer representatives - bringing the overall attendance level down slightly to 58,959.

On the exhibit floor, linking imaging devices and information technology (IT) was predominant as vendors offered technologies to help providers manage growing volumes of patient data and afford caregivers and radiologists access to that information from virtually any location.

MRI and CT boasted larger, more detailed images as MRI technology adds enhancements to 1.5-tesla and 3-tesla systems, and CT vendors develop scanners with upwards of 32, 40 and 64 slices.

Thanks to computer-aided detection (CAD), breast imaging is advancing via mammography and MRI, and lung cancer detector via chest CT and x-ray. Also in breast imaging, 2003 will be the year that tomosynthesis and Somography were introduced as two new technologies to improve patient care.

Displays, ultrasound, x-ray, printers, nuclear medicine and 3D imaging also had their respective moments in the spotlight at RSNA 2003. Check out our 24-page modality-by-modality review, and see some of the novel technologies that may very well grace the exhibit halls of McCormick Place for years to come.