Ultrasound at RSNA: Upping apps & extending utility

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Lisa Fratt, Editor

Barry Goldberg, MD, is a RSNA diehard. The world-renowned ultrasound expert has not missed a show since the mid-1960s. Every year, he anticipates new finds that hint at a more promising future. Goldberg is confident that RSNA 2010 will match, or exceed, his expectations.

Goldberg divides the high points of RSNA 2010 into three categories: automation, elastography and ultrasound contrast.

“We’re seeing the expansion of automation in ultrasound, particularly in breast ultrasound,” shares Goldberg. In addition, other presenters are sharing studies about new approaches to 3D ultrasound, which could improve accuracy of needle-guided biopsies, says Goldberg.

“Elastography is a fascinating concept that modifies standard ultrasound images to determine how hard or soft an area is,” explains Goldberg. Ultrasound elastography is demonstrating its utility in multiple clinical applications including diagnoses of malignancies and liver fibrosis as well as assessment of musculoskeletal healing. At the same time, major vendors continue to add elastography capabilities to new ultrasound offerings and diagnostic workstations.

“Finally, there is renewed interest, and even pressure, regarding ultrasound contrast," notes Goldberg. "It’s an approach used throughout the world.”  Although the FDA requires black box warnings about echo contrast, multiple studies have confirmed its safety, including a meta-analysis published July 23 in the American Journal of Cardiology.

Contrast could boost accuracy of ultrasound and expand clinical applications. Potential targets include the liver and other organs and lymph nodes. Recent studies suggest that the ultrasound market would see hefty expansion with the addition of targeted contrast agents.

The heightened emphasis on the potential carcinogenic effects of ionizing radiation also seems to be stimulating interest in ultrasound and may encourage use of ultrasound in a triage model. In addition, advances in ultrasound may improve lesion characterization to the degree where it depicts some lesions with the same accuracy as CT, offers Goldberg.

Lisa Fratt
Editor of Health Imaging & IT