Symposium on nephrogenic systemic fibrosis takes top billing at ISMRM/ESMRMB meeting

May 17, 2007

No topic can dominate a conference as dynamic as the annual meeting of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. But with many experts chiming in on nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, the subject will be a focus of the society’s jointly sponsored conference with the European Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and Biology starting Monday in Berlin.

No topic can dominate a conference as dynamic as the annual meeting of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. But with many experts chiming in on nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, the subject will be a focus of the society's jointly sponsored conference with the European Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and Biology starting Monday in Berlin.

Representatives of the ISMRM and ESMRMB on the scientific program committee have invited NSF experts to participate in a two-hour discussion to be held on Tuesday, featuring panelists who have taken the lead on this issue:

  • Dr. Shawn Cowper, a Yale University radiologist, has organized an NSF registry that has documented more than 200 cases.

  • Dr. Henrik S. Thomsen of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, the second researcher to describe the disease, had catalogued about 20 cases by early 2007. His work has emphasized a link between gadodiamide (Omniscan) and NSF.

  • Dr. Peter Dawson of University College in London, an expert in MR contrast media and renal disease imaging, will discuss the consequences of this link between contrast administration and NSF for clinical practice.

  • Dr. Panos Tsintus, representing the European Medical Agency (EMEA), will describe the European regulatory response on a teleconference line from London.

The ISMRM and ESMRMB are showcasing NSF because radiologists want to know how they can deal with the problem, said Dr. Georg Bongartz, program chair. He noted that MRI has been often the first imaging modality prescribed for renal and kidney disease.

"Now, things are changing. There is a need for an alternative diagnostic pathway," he said.

The ISMRM/ESMRMB meeting will not be played on a single note, however. The program suggests that subject matter at the 2007 joint meeting has something to stir the interest of everyone associated with MRI: practitioners, technologists, physicists, chemists, and basic scientists.

Registrants can attend more than 950 scientific presentations, 1900 traditional posters, and 949 electronic posters. Sixty-eight vendors will exhibit at this year's show.

Several trends are evident, Bongartz said. High-field MRI advancements pepper the five days of plenary, scientific, and poster sessions. No session is explicitly dedicated to high field, but attendees will find it impossible to go through the week without sensing the influence of 3T and high-field-strength MRI.

Molecular imaging will have a larger presence than in previous years. In a special session, researchers will debate whether MRI is an appropriate instrument for MI. Evidence for the probable answer to that question will emerge in sessions covering MR for cell tracking, MRI biomarkers, and use of MR for drug discovery and therapeutic response monitoring.

In a continuation of a discussion started last year, Dr. Simon R. Cherry of the University of California, Davis will report on how MRI can be combined into hybrid systems with PET or SPECT. Dr. Arno Buecker of the University of Saarland will examine MR/x-ray fluoro hybrid platforms, and Vasilis Ntziachristos of the Center for Molecular Imaging Research at Massachusetts General Hospital will describe hybrid MR/optical imaging configurations and their implications for MI.

Dr. Daniel Sodickson, newly appointed director of the Center of Biomedical Imaging at New York University, will be watching for developments relating to parallel transmission. Parallel transmission was first described a few years ago and is analogous to parallel data reception. It is being used to control the electromagnetic fields used in MRI, Sodickson said. At 3T and greater field strengths, those fields are distorted by the body, so imaging homogeneity and energy deposition in tissue are problematic.

Parallel transmission techniques may be capable of dramatically improving early deposition and homogeneity.

"There is a lot of excitement generated about parallel transmission. Two or three sessions are either dedicated to this topic or closely related to it," he said.

After a hiatus of several years, the two societies will revisit interventional MRI, which has seen steady progress. Dr. Ferenc Jolesz at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Dr. Jonathan S. Lewin of Johns Hopkins University demonstrated in the mid-1990s that interventional MRI could be used in practice. Jolesz has performed thousands of minimally invasive neurosurgical procedures using MR as a guide. Interventional MRI is closing in on clinical readiness with the success of large-animal experiments at the National Institutes of Health, including MRI-guided aortic value replacement in pigs.

Lewin and Michel Bock, Ph.D, of the German Krebforschungszentrum in Heidelberg will describe the next steps for MRI as an interventional guidance instrument.

Recent surgery will prohibit Nobel Laureate Sir Peter Mansfield, Ph.D, from presenting the lecture that carries his name. In his place, Dr. Peter Morris, a colleague of Mansfield's at the advanced MR laboratory of Nottingham University in the U.K., will describe his achievements, including the influence of echo-planar imaging, a technique Mansfield invented, on clinical applications.

The two societies will present a tribute to the late Dr. Paul Lauterbur, who was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with Mansfield for the invention of MRI. Dr. Hedvig Hricak, director of radiology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, will deliver the Lauterbur Lecture. Hricak will review 25 years of MRI in oncology.

The ISMRM meeting is known for groundbreaking plenary lectures that stimulate new research. That spark of creative energy may be seen in 2007 during scientific sessions devoted to multichannel imaging, Bongartz said. After revolutionizing MRI with high-channel radiofrequency receiver arrays, researchers are experimenting with multichannel transmission for similar improvements.

Attendees can also expect to see many abstracts that move beyond HYPR, VYPR, and other highly undersampled image acquisition and reconstruction techniques. Charles A. Mistretta, Ph.D., a professor of medical physics at the University of Wisconsin, discussed these potential gateways to ultrafast MRI at last year's event.

Plenary lectures will examine the frontiers of functional neuroimaging. Dr. Arno Villringer of Humboldt University in Berlin will discuss multimodal approaches. Dr. Christian Buechel of the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany will lecture on functional MRI mapping strategies, and Dr. Paul M. Matthews of GlaxoSmithKline of Middlesex will consider applications of fMRI that will transport its experimental uses to clinical medicine.

The ISMRM/ESMRMB's "Art and Artifact" exhibit is designed to keep attendees and presenters from taking themselves too seriously. More than 40 individual exhibits will combine art and humor ,adding another dimension to the creativity of MRI research and application.

The event's presentation in Berlin and the collaboration between the ISMRM and the European society will color the week's activities, Bongartz said. More young European researchers and radiologists will have an opportunity to attend the ISMRM conference than recent annual meetings in Seattle, Miami, and Toronto.

"There are regulatory and economic differences between Europe, the U.S., and Asia, but the science behind MRI is identical," Bongartz said. "So it is natural that these two societies come together at least every fourth year, maybe even every second year or less, for a joint meeting"

For more information, read these articles from the Diagnostic Imaging archives:

Europeans urge caution with all gadolinium agents

Skin disease linked to gadolinium prompts warning

Websites provide boost for radiology training

MRI inventor Lauterbur dies

New MRI technique eyes lung disease in infants