Paging through radiology literature stirs remembrance of things past

December 1, 2006
Deborah R. Dakins
Deborah R. Dakins

I recently completed a task that we expect will lead to a more refined search engine for the Diagnostic Imaging Web site and those of our sister publications at CMPMedica. The project required perusing some 400-plus articles in the radiology literature from the past 30 years, covering every conceivable subcategory, and tagging those that best define each clinical application and modality. It involved some tedious parsing of wheat from chaff but provided ample opportunity for reflection on how far radiology has come.

I recently completed a task that we expect will lead to a more refined search engine for the Diagnostic Imaging Web site and those of our sister publications at CMPMedica. The project required perusing some 400-plus articles in the radiology literature from the past 30 years, covering every conceivable subcategory, and tagging those that best define each clinical application and modality. It involved some tedious parsing of wheat from chaff but provided ample opportunity for reflection on how far radiology has come.

Sifting through the abstracts prompted a bit of nostalgia. Since the mid-1970s, radiologists and vendors have discovered, investigated, and ultimately rejected multiple technologies and applications in their quest for the best. Xeromammography, dedicated rotational angiography, and biliary lithotripsy are all techniques that fell into the dustbin of history.

In addition to clinical practice, radiology vernacular has also evolved over the years. We no longer refer to "nuclear magnetic resonance" or "water-bath ultrasound." But some things don't change. Turf wars, self-referred imaging, and the goal of obtaining better reimbursement for services rendered were hot topics yesterday and remain so today. Just update the players (from chiropractors to cardiologists) and the applications (from in-office x-ray to self-referred CT angiography); the concerns and frustrations stay the same.

During this, the RSNA meeting season, when radiologists are deluged by new product introductions and applications research, it seems pertinent to reflect on the technologies that have come and gone, as well as those that have endured. In the past year, we've inked articles about diffusion-weighted MR for stroke, a new breast CT device, and SPECT/CT versus PET/CT. I wonder which of these we'll still be writing about in 30 years.

-Ms. Dakins is copy chief of Diagnostic Imaging.