Thursday Bits and Bytes: Get in Touch with Your Inner Emily Post

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As the ACR wages its campaign to give the "Face of Radiology" a major nip and tuck, new research out of UPenn indicates that getting in touch with your inner Emily Post and sending a thank-you letter can go a long way toward improving your patients' perception of you -- and of the profession. In the study, Dr. Rajan Agarwal and his colleagues sent thank-you letters with a survey to almost 5,000 patients, and surveys without thank-you letters to another 5,000 or so. The results showed that patients who received the letter were more likely to recommend UPenn's radiology department to others. "If we as a profession want to improve the face of radiology, we all have to start thinking of new, creative ways of increasing time with patients or at least increasing their knowledge of our role in their care," Agarwal said.

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A press conference held yesterday in response to the US PSTF's recent revision of its mammographic screening guidelines drew a big crowd -- including a reporter from NBC News. An expert panel discussed the controversy surrounding the guidelines, which suggest that women at normal risk for the disease begin screening at 50, not 40, and are screened every two years instead of every one. Of course, the conclusion reached by this group of highly motivated participants shouldn't surprise anyone: the radiologists agreed that mammography is essential for early detection and highlighted the fact that 20% of breast cancer deaths in the US are in women diagnosed under the age of 50.

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According to new research presented here at RSNA, resting state blood oxygen level-dependent fMRI (try and say that one five times fast) can be used to observe unique brain connectivity patterns in patients with autism and patients who stutter. Two studies used the BOLD fMRI technique to look at differences in neural activity in these patient groups compared with control groups. "When we obtain resting state BOLD fMR data -- a situation analogous to any other routine clinical sequence -- we can identify systematic differences between normal patients and patients with cognitive pathology," said study author Jason Druzgal, MD, PhD, who was awarded with an RSNA Trainee Research Prize for his work.