Innovation in radiology and imaging has been an area of increased focus in the medical industry over the past decade, with new technologies and visualisation advancements emerging at a rapid pace. Artificial Intelligence (AI) implementation and advancement in imaging technologies have been crucial to developing more accurate results, thereby improving diagnoses and patient treatment options.
“The ultimate basis of acceptance and use of imaging is strong clinical evidence supporting the value. It is value based. You might have the best tool in the world, but if it doesn’t change the patient outcome then it doesn’t matter beyond simply being pretty pictures,” said Dr. Evis Sala of the University of Cambridge, UK who was part of discussions at the Total Radiology conference in Dubai, as she focused on state-of-the-art integrated diagnostics and the benefits of developing and validating functional imaging biomarkers for certain cancers.
Innovations in medical imaging are clearly a game changer but the direct impact on patient and economic outcomes is quite often understated, contends Dr. Arash Tehranzadeh of Cedars-Sinai-Kerlan Jobe Institute in the US. Such innovations coupled with artificial intelligence have improved the quality of careers for some of the world’s most well-known and highly paid athletes. “Some athletes with contracts in excess of US$55 million come into our clinics to get treated for career-threatening injuries, and these innovations in radio imagery have recently allowed for better treatment, potentially saving their lucrative careers as well as the performances of their teams.”
Now AI algorithms are being used to analyse millions of medical images in real time, enabling the detection of early-stage diseases and conditions. For example, it is being used to improve accuracies of mammograms, a crucial tool for detecting breast cancer, as well as advanced analyses of MRIs to help detect and treat prostate cancers. These algorithms analyse images faster and more accurately than human radiologists, reducing the sole reliance on manual image interpretation and minimising risks of missed diagnoses.
Advanced MRI Techniques have been in regular development, making the procedure faster, safer, and more efficient. New techniques such as “compressed sensing” MRI allow for faster scans, with fewer scans required to produce the same level of detail. This can be especially beneficial for patients with mobility issues or children who struggle to remain still during scans. Whole Body Magnetic Resonance Imaging (WBMRI) for example, is the most sensitive imaging test, allowing for earlier detection and treatment of multiple myeloma, directly contributing to improved long-term health and economic benefits.
Additionally, Computed Tomography (CT) scans, widely used to produce detailed images of internal organs and tissues, can be associated with significant radiation exposure. New and improved technologies include dual-energy CT scans which reduce radiation doses while providing high-quality images. These scans use two different types of radiation to produce images, enabling radiologists to differentiate between healthy and diseased tissues more accurately.
The introduction of Teleradiology has become a focus of digital transformation in healthcare systems which are continuously facing challenges in meeting the demands for medical imaging services, particularly in rural and remote areas. Teleradiology is helping to bridge the gap between patients and radiologists, providing improved access to imaging services and reducing wait times, resulting in much faster diagnoses and reduced burden on practitioners.
3D printing has also entered the medical fray where models of internal organs and bones can be used to help plan surgical procedures and visualise complex anatomy. The vast amounts of data being collected, analysed and stored by the above key innovative technologies require immense storage but with the additional caveat of allowing instant access when needed. Cloud-based management solutions enable healthcare providers to store and access images from anywhere they need, at any time. These systems provide a secure and efficient way to store, manage, and share images, reducing the risk of data loss or breaches.
This article appears in the Daily Dose 2023. Read the full issue online today.Back to Technology