RSNA16: New technology, research and radiology careers

The 102nd RSNA Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting wrapped up Friday in Chicago. This year's event, which brings together tens of thousands of imaging professionals and vendors, brought the usual mix of research findings, innovative uses of tech such as 3D printing, new healthcare technology advances and career and leadership issues, such as attracting more women to the field.  

Here are some highlights from the conference:

  • Tech that creates 3D virtual models of unborn babies: New technology transforms MRI and ultrasound data into a 3-D virtual reality model of a fetus. They’re “remarkably similar to the postnatal appearance of the newborn baby, and recreate the whole internal structure of the fetus,” according to an announcement. Wearing a virtual reality headset, users can hear the baby’s heartbeat and, by moving their head, study the baby’s anatomy.
  • New evidence of age-based mammography cutoffs: A study of screening mammography in more than 2.5 million women over seven years found no definitive cut-off age for breast cancer screening. Based on increasing age, performance metrics demonstrated an upward trend for cancer detection rate and positive predictive values, and a downward trend in recall rates until age 90.
  • Wearables could change the practice of radiology: Wearable visual overlay devices such as Google Glass and Microsoft's HoloLens may offer value in a number of radiology applications, according to a poster presentation at the meeting. A team from the University of Maryland found, for example, that HoloLens could be used to view holograms that were created from DICOM data and then coregistered on the patient for image-guided interventions, AuntMinnie reported
  • High-resolution orbit and brain MRI scans pinpoint the cause of vision problems in astronauts: Long-duration space missions can cause volume changes in the clear fluid that is found around the brain and spinal cord, new research found. The research could lead to countermeasures to protect crew members from the ill effects of long-duration exposure to microgravity.
  • Depression in soldiers is linked to trauma: Using multiple brain imaging techniques, researchers found that a disruption of the circuitry in the brain’s cognitive-emotional pathways may provide a physical foundation for depression symptoms in some service members who have suffered mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) in combat. Imaging results showed changes in white and gray matter in brain regions critical for cognitive and emotional control in mTBI patients with depression.
  • Women aren't flocking to radiology specialties: There are just about as many women as men in medical school, but far fewer female medical trainees are picking radiology as their medical field of choice. In a video interview posted from the conference on AuntMinnie, Holly Jumper, M.D., of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, talked about how to make the field more attractive to women.
  • Recognizing career burnout in radiology: Under pressure from a variety of forces, many radiologists are reporting higher levels of career burnout. Felix Chew, M.D., of the University of Washington, reported on his findings of burnout among musculoskeletal radiologists in another AuntMinnie video from the show.