In anticipation of the European Congress of Radiology 2011, which will be held March 3 to 7 in Vienna, Austria, Diagnostic Imaging caught up with Professor Yves Menu, chairman of the department of radiology at Saint Antoine Hospital in Paris and the ECR 2011 Congress President.
In anticipation of the European Congress of Radiology 2011, which will be held March 3 to 7 in Vienna, Austria, Diagnostic Imaging caught up with Professor Yves Menu, chairman of the department of radiology at Saint Antoine Hospital in Paris and the ECR 2011 Congress President. We will be on site at ECR 2011 covering the latest news and highlights.
Can you give me a few highlights from this year's conference?
The main highlights will be technical and professional advances. Not only improvements in methods, like the quantum leaps in MRI and the fifth dimension in CT, but also we will consider how our profession will evolve in the future, and what the role of the radiologist of the future will be.
How will this year differ from previous years?
There will certainly be a significant change in the level of interactivity. The world is changing, and attendees are too. Radiology is changing, and so the ECR also changes. We need to take the opportunity of new means of communication and needs in order to reorganize teaching. The participation of delegates is evolving to become less and less passive, and more and more active.
Also, the ECR is will take another step toward multidisciplinarity, because we strongly believe that in the future, the borders between specialties will be permeable and not waterproof. The clinician will learn more about images and the radiologist will understand clinical challenges more and in a better way. Sharing words allows a better mutual understanding, and isn’t this exactly what our patients want; having their doctors communicate well with each other?
What are you hearing from radiologists and imaging professionals about some of their biggest professional challenges these days?
There are two opposite feelings. One is enthusiasm due to emerging technologies and the improving role of radiology in the work-up of many patients. Just consider how the radiologist is now a full time partner in the treatment of cancer. See also how the radiologist is now some kind of a primary care doctor in emergency situations, managing triage and sorting emergencies.
Conversely, advances are so fast that the radiologists have a hard time learning new methods and protocols. It is the role of a meeting like the ECR to provide guidelines and stimulation, opening windows to innovation and at the same time improving their practice. The ECR links the active past (’the beauty of basic knowledge’), the innovative present (’functional imaging of tumours’) and the foreseeable future (New Horizons Sessions)
What do you see as the most exciting emerging areas of technology in the radiology field?
It is absolutely correct to say areas and not area. Imaging has its roots in morphology and its head in function, structure and metabolism. All methods are now bridging morphology and function. CT provides high resolution images, but at the same time provides new insights into the structure with dual energy, and into the physiology with perfusion. MRI delineates the organ, but also explores the structure and the function. Just see the developments of Diffusion Weighted Imaging. Who could imagine, ten years ago, that water would become the radiologist’s best friend (see the opening lecture by Prof Le Bihan).
At the same time, some methods are not working alone, but are combined for hybrid imaging. We understand better how diseases develop and regress, and we are able to guide and to monitor intervention, surgical or radiological with a high precision
What are the most exciting areas of clinical research or development?
Research is exciting per se. The good thing about research is that you can only foresee one part of its future applications. Sometimes it takes a long time before the method comes to maturity. Look at double energy CT: it was already available in 1975 in machines that were acquiring one slice in 90 seconds. Today, this delay is the time elapsed between the start and the end of CT examinations in most cases, after an acquisition of the whole body. How long did it take for PET to come to its position? Today, we are certainly excited by the development of Molecular Imaging. We have been so close to macroscopy that modern radiology acts as the ‘anatomical truth’, even more than surgery and gross pathological examination.
However, we know that many of the diseases start at the molecular level; how can we image these microscopic disturbances; can we develop nanoprobes to explore the ultramicroscopic anatomy and physiology? Shall we combine our efforts with chemists, physiologists, physicians and geneticians to explore the disease at its molecular root? Who knows? To those who think that we have reached the limits of our methods, I would like to say: ”be prepared for a big surprise.”