September may be my favorite month of the year. The hot, muggy days of August have ceased, replaced by fresh fall air with just the right nip of cool on most days. Backpacks are full, dorm rooms are decorated and school buses prowl the streets as parents and kids anticipate a new school year and fresh start.

Imaging, too, sits on the verge of new beginnings. This month’s cover story explores comparative effectiveness research, with prostate cancer as a use case. Difficult dilemmas plague the entire prostate cancer screening and treatment process, and imaging can play a central role in developing solutions. Carolinas HealthCare in Charlotte, N.C., for example, has launched a local study to inform how it might implement the American Society for Clinical Oncology’s recommendation against the use of PET, CT and radionuclide bone scans in the staging of early state prostate cancer patients who are at low risk for metastasis.

The tough topic of curbing imaging emerges in several other features this month. “ACOs: A Call to Arms for Radiology” is an essential read; the accountable care model has taken root and will continue to bloom and affect imaging utilization whether radiology is on board or not. Smart providers will familiarize themselves with the model and weave their way into the dialogue.

Pediatric imaging brings unique rewards and challenges. The challenges are blatantly apparent in the case of pediatric CT, and the protocol for suspected appendicitis offers a rich case study that illustrates the disparities between children’s hospitals and mainstream radiology. While children’s hospitals have been able to initiate improved processes, other practices have struggled to tap the resources to spur these changes. Thought leaders offer a series of strategies in “Pediatric CT: Growing Pains.”

“In the Nick of Time: Communicating Critical Results” provides an interactive spin. We surveyed readers to gain a real-world understanding of users’ needs and challenges, and wed this information with thoughtful analysis of published literature. I’m positive you’ll appreciate the approach.

Finally, be sure to check out “Hola AMIGO” to visit one of nation’s most sophisticated operating suites— the Advanced Multimodality Image Guided Operating Suite (AMIGO) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston—through a pictorial essay.

How is your practice staying ahead of these and other changes? Be sure to let us know.