Traveling around the world of radiology in just a few steps

November 28, 2006

If you have been to RSNA in the last five years, you know that McCormick Place comprises three large convention buildings and that the meeting fills all three. Lectures and meetings are held in all three, with commercial exhibits in the north and south buildings and scientific exhibits confined to the East Lake building. Today I never left the East Lake building.

If you have been to RSNA in the last five years, you know that McCormick Place comprises three large convention buildings and that the meeting fills all three. Lectures and meetings are held in all three, with commercial exhibits in the north and south buildings and scientific exhibits confined to the East Lake building. Today I never left the East Lake building.

This year the powers-that-be reorganized the East building, and they did a really nice job. Finding your way around is easy, because there are more signs and banners than a gay pride parade. When you enter the hall you are greeted by a variety of people. There are the pleasant staff members at the help desk to answer questions, and at least one or two people giving out copies of the daily convention newspaper. These newspapers, which have an ad-to-news ratio of about 1 billion to one, serve primarily as coasters in the various lounge areas.

This year, attendees are also greeted by teenyboppers in chef outfits distributing "RSNA dining guides," a map, and a description of all the "unCONVENTIONally good" food available in the exhibit halls. It's hard to make such diverse dishes as curry with naan, cowboy steaks, and Kosher delights bland, dry, and similar tasting. But if you are willing to pony up $11 for a grab-and-go lunch, these folks can make it happen. I had the Chicago classic beef hot dog and water for $5. Not a bad deal, until you learn that in Chicago a classic hot dog is actually a Vienna sausage on a small roll.

I attended some excellent lectures on shoulder MRI and sports injuries. The older I get, the more I have really mixed emotions listening to these talks. One side of my brain is assimilating all the useful data, while the other side is wondering how many of these subtle findings I missed last week.

The real highlight of the reorganized East building is the new layout for the scientific exhibits. With more than 2000 electronic and poster exhibits, it is an amazing source of information. Every topic you can imagine in radiology, and hundreds you wouldn't dream of, is covered. I limited myself to nuclear medicine, breast, musculoskeletal, and general interest areas today, and didn't begin to cover them. Where else can travel just a few steps yet span "PET in Alzheimer's" to "How to get a patent"? It isn't all pretty though. There was a disturbing poster on "good and bad" fat in imaging. My wife's constant prodding about my growing belly was given more scientific support.

Today's annual oration in diagnostic radiology was "Cardiac imaging: A second chance," by Dr. Kerry Link from Wake Forest University. As a Davidson College graduate, also in North Carolina, I have always appreciated what fine second-tier schools Duke, the University of North Carolina, and Wake Forest (formerly Bowman Gray) are. Link gave an elegant discussion of where cardiac imaging is, where it is going, and what radiologists can and should do to get back into this arena.

Having trained at one time or another to read echos, cardiac cath, cardiac nucs, MRI, PET, and CT of everything, I feel confident I could learn to do cardiac imaging with the cross-modality integration it is going to require. And I agree our patients would benefit from having their studies read by someone who can truly tie it all together. But, as my eight-year-old frequently reminds me, "Daddy is old and tired," and I'm not sure I'm up for it.