International Day of Radiology

13 November 2017

The 8th November 2017 marked the International Day of Radiology, which coincided with the anniversary of the discovery of the X-Ray in 1895 by Wilhelm Conrad Rӧntgen. This year’s celebrations focused on the important role of emergency radiology in dealing with medical emergencies.

Although X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans and numerous other radiological techniques have been in use for some time, new developments and technologies continue to improve diagnostic imaging.

Sadly for those working as Radiologists, they may soon become obsolete. New developments in computer-aided analysis of medical images mean that that the detection of abnormalities in a medical image may soon be performed by a computer rather than requiring the skilled input of a specialist diagnostic radiologist. One computer-aided detection method currently being trialled aims to be able to automatically identify whether certain tumours are benign or cancerous from a sonogram (WO2006/128302). In addition to removing the need for a biopsy, it may soon be unnecessary for a qualified professional to interpret the sonogram. Furthermore, machine learning is increasingly being investigated as a method of improving the analysis of medical images. One method that has been developed utilises machine learning to create predictive models that can be used to identify abnormalities in radiological images (WO2017/152121). By applying machine learning to large data sets of medical images, the predictive models can be continually improved, leading to improved automated diagnostics.

X-rays

With recent developments in three-dimensional printing, it is now possible to create personalised three-dimensional anatomical models from MRI and CT scans. A collaboration between a medical imaging systems provider (Clearstream) and a 3D printing company (Materialise), combines the imaging software that is already used by numerous Radiologists with the ability to request a three-dimensional model after a scan. These 3D models will allow surgeons and other specialists to consider each individual patient’s anatomy prior to deciding on a specific treatment. Since there are many potential anatomical differences between individual patients, a three-dimensional printed replica of a particular patient’s organs will enable the surgeon to determine the most suitable surgical method before opening up the patient to perform any particular procedure.

Finally, advances in digital processing mean that computer software is increasingly capable of cleaning up images, enabling images to be sharpened to correct for the movements of the patient being scanned. Soon, perhaps, we will all be able to twitch whilst in an MRI machine or CT scanner without prolonging the process.

Rachel McGlue

Rachel McGlue

Patent Attorney

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