Post-COVID-19 Imaging Surge, Managing Blood Clots with Imaging, Singapore's "Touch Me Not" Policy, and the COVID-19 Impact on Breast Imaging

April 24, 2020

Diagnostic Imaging's Weekly Scan, April 24, 2020

Whitney Palmer: Welcome back to Diagnostic Imaging’s Weekly Scan with continuing coverage of COVID-19 and the industry’s response to the pandemic. I’m Whitney Palmer, senior editor.

As imaging continues to play a vital role in managing patients with COVID-19 infection, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration announced this week that it will relax its rules around modifications of imaging equipment. Many radiology devices have been altered to function as mobile or portable systems in an effort to keep both patients and providers safe. The agency acknowledged the need for these efforts and said it would not object to any modifications made to systems that already have FDA approval even if the changes would ordinarily call for 510(k) or premarket approval.

Throughout the country, this week, we saw the national conversation begin to turn toward a relaxing of stay-at-home restrictions. As more locations begin to walk down this path, it could mean you’ll see a return to normalcy with your imaging procedures and patient volumes. Are you ready to handle the influx of postponed patient appointments and scan? Researchers from the Netherlands offered advice, based on their decisions, in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, that could help you work through the imaging volume by changing protocols, re-allocating personnel resources, and managing any medical student responsibilities.

But, we’re not out of the woods yet with COVID-19. And, so far, there’s been very little guidance or details on how to – and under what circumstances – you should image children who either have the virus or are suspected of being infected. Because there is a greater concern about radiation exposure with younger patients, an international group of experts from six countries, including the United States, developed a consensus document published in Radiology: Cardiothoracic Imaging, giving you recommendations on when and under what circumstances you should use chest X-ray or chest CT with pediatric patients. The group also provided language you can use for streamlined structured reporting. 

More evidence is emerging that COVID-19 is more than a pulmonary disease. There’s a significant vascular component that is tired directly to patient prognosis and outcomes. And, imaging can play a vital role in the detection and management of the deep vein thromboses and pulmonary emboli that can result from infection. Researchers from the Netherlands published evidence-based guidance in Radiology, detailing the situations in which chest CT can be used to affect treatment decisions.

As imaging needs continue to grow in hospitals, so does the need for you to maintain a protective distance to safeguard yourself and your patients. Singapore General Hospital has adopted a “touch me not” stance where they’ve employed several tactics to control viral transmission. Work groups that rotate through patient environments together, restrictions and limitations on meal times, and a new patient appointment model that tracks a patient’s arrival down to the minute are a few of their strategies outlined in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

And, finally, this week, Diagnostic Imaging spoke with Dr. Susan Holley, co-director of breast services at Wake Radiology, part of Rex Healthcare in the University of North Carolina system. Dr. Holley shared with us the experience her clinic has had with reduced imaging volumes and how she and her colleagues have re-allocated their skills while most breast imaging services have been put on hold during the pandemic. She also offered her insights on how COVID-19 could have a long-term impact on how breast imaging services are provided in the future. Here’s what she had to say.

Visit DiagnosticImaging.com for more on these stories and other news and expert insights. Thanks for watching the Weekly Scan.