Women's imaging searches for niche as its own subspecialty

April 2, 2006

Women's imaging issues seem to be featured everywhere. The momentum has been building over the past decade, propelled by the evident importance of screening mammography, the integration of multimodalities into breast imaging, the success of fibroid embolization, and the emergence of certain distinctions between male and female pathology in lung and cardiac disease.

Women's imaging issues seem to be featured everywhere. The momentum has been building over the past decade, propelled by the evident importance of screening mammography, the integration of multimodalities into breast imaging, the success of fibroid embolization, and the emergence of certain distinctions between male and female pathology in lung and cardiac disease.

Most practices, large and small, have areas dedicated to women's imaging. Many journals and Internet sites have a women's health section or concentration. For years, Diagnostic Imaging has featured special sections and supplements devoted to women's imaging.

There is even a buzz within radiology to recognize women's imaging as its own subspecialty. There are about 30 fellowships for women's imaging, and they've done well in the last several years, according to Dr. Ellen Mendelson, medical director of breast imaging at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. But radiology residency programs could do a better job with women's imaging.

"Residencies have to put all the women's imaging curricula into an easy-to-get format, including musculoskeletal for osteoporosis," Mendelson said.

Beyond academia, women's imaging has already been stamped a subspecialty. Women's imaging centers appear everywhere. In these places, patients can have their annual mammogram, a bone mineral test, and gynecological ultrasonography. In our special Women's Health section, we feature one center's journey through renovation and expansion (see page 49). As this is the wave of the future, it wouldn't hurt to learn some tricks from someone else's trials and tribulations.

Mr. Kaiser is news editor of Diagnostic Imaging.