How radiologists and surgeons are forging closer relationships

An increasing need and ability to use real-time multispecialty expertise, along with advances in technology, means that radiologists and surgeons are interacting with much frequency in the operating room, according to an article in Diagnostic Imaging.

Surgeons and radiologists, for example, frequently need to work together in real time when it comes to reconstructive surgery. As Oren Tepper, M.D., a reconstructive surgeon at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, points out, in the past when a patient arrived in an emergency room with facial trauma and severe deformations, the first step would have been to send that patient to radiology. Now, however, it's not unusual for surgeons and radiologists to look at scans together in the operating room.

"More than ever there's a need to have radiology input in real time," Tepper told Diagnostic Imaging. "It's not unusual for us to have a head-and-neck radiologist come to the operating room and review a CT scan while the patient is on the operating room table."

There are situations where radiologists are even replacing surgeons when it comes to some surgical procedures. For example a study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology last year found that central venous procedures are increasingly being performed by radiologists instead of surgeons and anesthesiologists.

Meanwhile, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston, radiologists and surgeons work cooperatively to ensure that surgeries are planned to maximize efficiency.

"We schedule our cases as much as possible and we have a 10- to 15-minute response time," Robert Kane, a radiologist and co-chief of ultrasound at BIDMC told Diagnostic Imaging. "Surgeons will send a call down to us that they'll be ready to scan in 10 to 15 minutes and our part of the bargain is we'll be up there ready to go. ... So neither of us stand around waiting for something to happen."

Some radiologists, however, believe that hospital-physician alignment jeopardizes the future of radiology. While such arrangements can prove beneficial for radiologists in the face of mandatory IT upgrades and changes to reimbursement models, they also tend to lead to reductions in salary and overall use, New York-based radiologist Helen Pavlov wrote in a commentary for AuntMinnie.com.

To learn more:
- see the article in Diagnostic Imaging

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