RSNA 2011 Opening Session

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Welcome to ImagingBiz's coverage of the RSNA 2011 conference! We kicked off this rainy Chicago Sunday with the opening session, led by RSNA president Dr. Drayer. I'll admit that I was curious about this year's conference theme, "celebrate the image," and Drayer's talk this morning helped answer my questions.

Drayer began by highlighting how radiology has revolutionized health care in the past 30 years, and demonstrated how advanced modalities like CT and MRI have unleashed diagnostic potential that clinicians could once only dream of. Imaging is the new physical, he said, noting that 14 percent of ED visits today include a CT scan. In one survey of non-radiologist physicians cited by Drayer, imaging technology was named the number-one advancement to medicine, above any pharmaceutical or other breakthroughs.

But Drayer also observed that many of the factors that created such revolutionary advancements in imaging capabilities, most importantly the sophisticated IT that has enabled radiologists to be ever more productive while offering greater diagnostic confidence and higher quality in both images and reports, are also Trojan horses containing threats: commoditization, fragmentation, increased scrutiny.

Radiologists have much to be proud of, he said, but they cannot rest on their laurels in a time of economic and regulatory turmoil. "Every squandered opportunity is a threat," he observed. He called for radiologists to advance the profession through research and ever-greater accomplishment. Showing a strikingly clear image of the hippocampus produced using research-grade 9.4T MRI, he said that the field must be prepared to provide this level of image quality to patients within the next decade.

What are your thoughts on how radiology can advance itself, and safeguard its future, through research?