Why two radiologists say a ‘tide of change’ is needed within the specialty

A pair of radiologists is calling on the specialty to embrace an engineering mindset and incorporate such principles into its own education to prepare for the future of medicine.

In fact, the duo said a “tide of change” is required within imaging education, calling on the American Board of Radiology and European Society of Radiology to incorporate biomedical engineering basics into its required curriculum.

Only then, they explained in a Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging editorial, will the next generation of leaders be properly equipped for the specialty's future.

“Engineering ‘miracles’ have been largely responsible for [the] development of radiology as a field, realizing high-resolution, non-invasive imaging of the human body,” Michail E. Klontzas, MD, PhD, and Apostolos H. Karantanas, MD, PhD, both with the Department of Radiology at the University of Crete’s School of Medicine in Greece, explained. “However, despite the importance of BiEn in medicine, training in radiology lacks basic knowledge about these principles and deprives residents of the opportunity to play an active role in shaping the future of radiology.

The editorialists pointed to a number of technologies imaging providers are likely to encounter in the near future, including 3D printing-based care, tissue and material engineering, and stem cell transplants for cancer treatment.

Imaging analysis is required for successful medical 3D printing and radiologists need to understand the ins and outs of various techniques to ensure patients receive optimal care.

Rads are also crucial to tissue engineering, which can repair damaged organs and relies on medical imaging to analyze tissue structure and plan treatments.

Klontzas and Karantanas argued radiologists will begin imaging more patients with implanted artificial tissues created using various techniques and materials. The makeup of these structures, such as their proton and water contents, can affect MRI scans and other exams.

Current ESR Curriculum Level 1-3 requires basic 3D-printing knowledge, stem cell migration and makeup training, and stem cell transplantation. The ABR Diagnostic Radiology Core Exam Study guide, meanwhile, doesn’t include any engineering concepts for board certification. Both the ESR and RSNA have launched 3D printing programs.

But ensuring radiologists are at least engineering literate will go a long way, the authors argued.

“Ultimately, getting acquainted with the engineering state of mind can only bring benefits to future radiologists who will be asked to collaborate with a series of allied specialties for the benefit of patients,” they concluded. “The time has come that the ABR and ESR embrace engineering as part of the basic radiology education and incorporate it in future versions of their curricula.”