ASNC chair says nuc cardiology to fill in gaps of preventive therapy

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Leslee J. Shaw, PhD, ASNC program chair. Image Source: Emory University  

The Annual Scientific Sessions of the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC) officially opened Wednesday, and Program Chair Leslee J. Shaw, PhD, told Health Imaging News how the conference will cover various facets of clinical applications, technological advances and research in the field of nuclear cardiology.

The 2008 ASNC theme is “Imaging for Primary and Secondary Prevention: Improving the Detection Gap,” and the program seeks to offer a blend of theory and application that aim to bring evidence-based best practices to everyday clinical settings.

“Despite tremendous strides within the cardiovascular community, which has resulted in 30 to 35 percent reduction in cardiovascular mortality, the huge burden of cardiovascular disease still remains, as it is still the number one killer in the United States and in most Western countries,” Shaw said. “As a result, it seemed like a natural fit for this conference to focus on what can be done to identify at-risk patients through primary and secondary prevention.”

In referencing the June 13 death of Tim Russert, which occurred less than three months after an exercise stress test, Shaw said that without nuclear imaging, exercise stress tests do not provide an accurate depiction of heart disease, specifically myocardial blood flow, for certain high-risk patients. “This is where nuclear imaging can really fill a gap, and regular exercise test is inaccurate and weak,” she added.

At this year’s conference, there is a focus on finding new modalities, but there is a concern about funding such modalities, according to Shaw.

“We’ve tried to strike a balance between what is the latest and greatest new equipment for molecular imaging— PET, SPECT, hybrid imaging—as well as focusing on target populations, who may benefit from the technologies. All of this needs to be considered within the U.S. health policy arena, and where we can actually get reimbursed for some of these key indications in which we think the modality is stronger,” Shaw noted.

“From last year to this year, we added a great deal to the schedule—new isotopes, new cameras, new imaging modalities, new markers—which we’ve tried to represent in our sessions, and all of which are considered in a practical sense for the improvement of practices,” Shaw said.

Specifically, she said that this year’s show will have a lot more PET representation. “If you have a high-volume practice, it’s become much more of a doable modality, especially because reimbursement is available for a lot of indications. Our sessions emulate a lot of practical PET practices, not just what’s going on in the research field.”

The show will also focus on hybrid solutions of CT integration, such as questioning the role of the new SPECT/CT and PET/CT cameras, the role of nuclear imaging with abnormal CT, according to Shaw.

There will also be several presentations on new pharmacological stress agents and isotopes, in particular a PET blood flow isotope. There is also a entire session dedicated to the new cameras.

In a more practical sense, there will also be entire session dedication to quality imaging. “The payors are going to have the guns pointed our way, so we are kicking off the meeting with a quality imaging session,” Shaw said. Specifically, Pam Douglas, MD, from Duke University in Durham, N.C., will present data on evidence-based strategies for improving quality. There will also be several sessions on reimbursements, along with others practical interpretations of new technologies.