Radiology and Surgery: Progress in Coming Together

July 7, 2016

Radiology and surgery speak the same language at CARS 2016.

I just returned from an excellent health care conference, CARS 2016, held this year in the beautiful city of Heidelberg. Now in its 30th year, CARS (computer-assisted radiology and surgery) has been focused on closing the radiology-surgery gap.

Significant progress has recently been made, in closing the gap, with the advent of technologies like interactive virtual reality (IVR), an effective visualization communication tool. By viewing objects in open 3D space, in addition to images, the radiologist can, “speak more intelligently with the surgeon." In addition, the surgeon, who "never opens a patient and sees a 2D view," can have a workstation that relates effectively with their practice.

There’s nothing like excellent communication to bring diverse professionals together. In the case of radiology and surgery, the use of a visualization-based communication tool is the perfect solution.

At CARS, during which several related surgery organizations meet simultaneously, one often finds radiologists and surgeons, side by side, discussing the challenges and future of their joint trade.

There was discussion of radiology creating a surgical plan and streaming the results to the surgeon in the form of a visual report. Consider the area of colonoscopy. The radiologist, using virtual colonoscopy, can find the polyps, create scenes (3D data sets delineating the specific situation) for each polyp, and stream the "visual report" to the surgeon for polyp removal.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"49977","attributes":{"alt":"PACS","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_4331099277536","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"6076","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 113px; width: 169px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"©sfam photo/Shutterstock.com","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

Since approximately 10% of patients actually have polyps at the time of an examination, the cost savings are significantly increased and the difficulty for patients is significantly reduced. The radiologist plays a significant role in using IVR to not only characterize standard polyps, but also to find the challenging flat lesions that are twice as likely to be cancerous – followed by creating the scenes for the surgeon. The surgeon, will be provided with only cases containing polyps so that their efforts are more productive.

During discussions at CARS, dealing with the “operating room of the future,” it was evident that by working together, patient outcomes can be significantly improved – and that of course, is the name of the game.