Radiology's future brighter than it appears

At the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago last week, I sat in on a session on "The Future of Radiology," in which Vijay Rao, M.D., professor and chair of the department of radiology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, lamented the fact that fewer medical students are considering radiology for a career.

Radiology has always "attracted the best and the brightest," she said, adding that concerns about a shrinking radiology market may mean there's a danger that may not necessarily be the case going forward.

After attending one research session after another at the conference, however, it's clear that there's plenty going on in the specialty to be excited about.

These were sessions featuring the work of a variety of radiologists--some well established in the field, and others just beginning what should be promising careers.

For example, Reed Cope, a fourth year medical student at Oregon Health and Science University, chose to research the effect stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) has on patients suffering from skeletal muscle/soft tissue metastases. While soft tissue metastases are extremely rare, they carry a very poor prognosis and are extremely painful--so pain management is an important component to care for these patients. Cope's retrospective study determined that SBRT works well at managing pain and is well tolerated, making it a rational option that should be considered for patients suffering from these painful metastases.

And Pragya Dang, M.D., a young resident at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, added more evidence demonstrating the advantages that tomosynthesis provides in diagnosing and detecting breast cancer. In her study, Dang found that tomosynthesis was "significantly" more effective at visualizing and characterizing cancers.

Another young radiologist, Rivka Colen, of the MD Anderson Cancer Center, has been doing innovative work in the field of imaging genomics in an effort to come up with better ways to diagnose and treat glioblastoma, the most common of malignant brain tumors. Those that spend a few minutes talking to her about her research and come away awed by her enthusiastic commitment to this field of research.

These are just a few of the research efforts going on around the country in the field of radiology, many of them being performed by young radiologists. No doubt there are challenges facing the specialty--reimbursement issues, commoditization, and a shrinking job market. The exciting work being done by these radiologists, however, should leave us more than a little encouraged about the specialty's future. - Mike (@FierceHealthIT)

Suggested Articles

Telehealth giant Teladoc completed its massive $18.5 billion acquisition of Livongo, the company announced Friday.

Nurx says it's the largest female-focused telehealth player, and it's brought on former Walmart and 23andMe executives to help expand its services.

Welcome to this week's Chutes & Ladders, our roundup of hirings, firings and retirings throughout the industry.