At RSNA 2014, a celebration of the past and a look to the future

Last week's meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in Chicago was the organization's 100th annual get together, and as such was celebrated with a proud look at the past of both the RSNA and the field of radiology.

For example, the meeting's "Centennial Showcase" provided attendees with features such as a demonstration of early imaging equipment and a replica of Wilhem Röntgen's (the "father of radiology") laboratory, all of which was introduced by a virtual Röntgen himself.

But the meeting also was about the present--and more importantly the future--of radiology.

During one session, for example, breast MRI pioneer Christiane Kuhl, a radiologist from the University of Aachen in Germany, talked about the development of an abbreviated protocol that reduces MRI acquisition time to about three minutes and produces an image that can be read in seconds by an experienced breast MRI radiologist. Not only is it fast, but it's as specific and sensitive as a normal conventional breast MRI--all of which makes it increasingly feasible for breast MRI to be become a mass breast cancer screening tool.

At another session, Sandip Biswal, an associate professor of radiology at the Stanford University Medical Center, and other researchers talked about the development of MR neurography and the use of molecular imaging techniques such as PET-MRI to image nerves with the objective of identifying the sources of chronic pain--a condition that affects the lives of tens of millions of Americans and costs the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars in healthcare costs and loss of productivity.

A third ssue that impacts Americans in increasingly high numbers is Alzheimer's disease. Preventive treatments may be most effective before Alzheimer's disease is diagnosed, such as when a person is suffering from mild cognitive impairment. To that end, last week, researchers at Duke University presented a study showing that diffusion tensor imaging could play a role in assessing brain damage in early Alzheimer's disease and monitoring the effect of new therapies.

These are just a few of exciting and innovate imaging techniques discussed last week at RSNA 2014. So while RSNA spent much of last week celebrating the past, it's clear that there's much to look forward to as we look ahead to the future of radiology. - Mike (@FierceHealthIT)