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Radiology Daily
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Today's Alert

Time inevitably brings change. More than six and a half years after Radiology Daily began, this is the final post. Don’t worry! Launching next month will be a free, time-saving monthly e-newsletter, Oakstone’s new Highlights in Radiology. Here’s a taste of what you’ll get:

Insights from respected colleagues in the field of radiology and diagnostic imaging
Physician reviews of—and commentary on—radiology-related articles from leading medical journals
Unlimited online access anytime to archived Highlights in Radiology articles, including Radiology Daily posts and free reports on hot topics in radiology, so you can visit them whenever it’s convenient … read more »

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A health-insurance company’s “price transparency program” succeeded in driving insured patients to less-expensive MRI facilities and away from hospital-based facilities, according to an article in the current edition of Health Affairs.

The insurer was WellPoint. One of its subsidiaries commissioned the study, and another conducted it. The study looked at more than 100,000 members of WellPoint health plans from 2010 through 2012. About 61,000 had health plans that included a program “that makes health plan members aware of MRI imaging costs and proactively shares relevant information about alternative providers close to the … read more »

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MRI-guided high-intensity focused ultrasound noninvasively destroyed a benign bone tumor in the leg of a Canadian teenager. That night, for the first time in months, he was able to sleep without being jolted awake by excruciating pain.

The July 17 treatment by a team from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto was the North American debut of the procedure for a pediatric patient. (High-frequency focused ultrasound has been used to treat such tumors in Europe since 2010.) The procedure kicked off a pilot clinical trial funded partly by the Focused Ultrasound … read more »

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Studies are defining an ever-larger role for MRI in detecting prostate cancer. One of the most recent, performed by Australian researchers, found MRI to be 97 percent effective in ruling out prostate cancer for men with abnormal prostate specific antigen levels or digital rectal exam results.

Lead Investigator Phillip Stricker, MBBS, senior author of an article about the research in the July issue of The Journal of Urology, said the findings could be particularly helpful in sparing men with false positive PSA tests the discomfort, expense, and infection risk of a biopsy:
There’s been … read more »

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The surprisingly rapid spread of digital breast tomosynthesis, also known as 3-D mammography, may be an unintended—but beneficial—consequence of hospital consolidation.

Digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) is costly, partly because one manufacturer, Hologic, has the U.S. market to itself (although it will likely soon have competition from GE and Siemens, which sell 3-D mammography systems in Europe). A large, consolidated health care system has the means to make the investment, said Rohit Inamdar, senior associate and medical physicist for the Applied Solutions Group at ECRI Institute. But he said the cost-benefit ratio can … read more »

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Suddenly, everybody’s talking about CT scans of ancient mummies. Well, maybe not everybody. But the journal Global Heart, published by the World Heart Federation, devoted most of its June issue to, as the title of the Editor’s Page article put it, “What Do Mummies Tell Us About Atherosclerosis?” NPR’s health blog, Shots, also weighed in last week.

It’s not news that CT scans have revealed signs of atherosclerosis in mummies from a variety of ancient civilizations. Smoking, unhealthy diets, and sedentary modern lifestyles often get the blame for the condition these days. But why … read more »

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Two new handheld optical imaging devices can detect and measure the extent of skin cancer tumors, particularly melanoma, say their developers.

One packs three different spectroscopic techniques—Raman spectroscopy, diffuse reflectance spectroscopy, and laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy—into a single probe the size of a pen, connected to supporting equipment on a portable utility cart. In about four and a half seconds, it can scan the surface of the skin and detect which lesions are most likely cancerous. The diagnosis will have to be confirmed by a biopsy, but the device should be able … read more »

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An algorithm developed at Mayo Clinic Children’s Center in Rochester, Minnesota, significantly reduces the use of CT scans for children with suspected appendicitis without affecting diagnostic accuracy, according to a study published online in Surgery.

The study looked at 331 emergency-department pediatric patients (18 or younger) who underwent appendectomies for suspected appendicitis. Of the patients, 41 percent were treated in the two years before the algorithm was implemented and the rest during the three years after Mayo began using the algorithm. The rate of CT scans of the patients dropped by more than … read more »

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A new technology that can create an “acoustic bottle” in midair could improve ultrasound imaging, according to researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California. The  technique also shows promise in a number of more exotic fields, including acoustic cloaking, particle manipulation, and levitation.

Peng Zhang, PhD, lead author of a paper about the research, explained some of the implications:
Our acoustic bottle beams open new avenues to applications in which there is a need to access hard-to-reach objects hidden behind obstacles, such as acoustic imaging … read more »

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CT scans can guide not only the treatment of injured people but also the repair of damaged musical instruments, thanks to 3-D printers. Researchers at the University of Connecticut have been using CT to look deep inside antique instruments and even print replacement parts.

They got the idea from Robert S. Howe, MD, a gynecologist and reproductive endocrinologist in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Dr. Howe is also a doctoral student in music theory and history at UConn. He teamed with a music-theory professor and an engineer, using software and a 3-D printer … read more »

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You may have seen them popping up in storefronts, with such names as O Baby, Baby Preview, Sneak a Peek, and Belly Love Spa. They’re ultrasound boutiques, where mothers-to-be can get 3-D and real-time 4-D images of their unborn babies, sometimes with such available extras as baby clothes or spa treatments.

Are such businesses just a sweet way for parents and other family members to be introduced to a not-yet-newborn? Or are they a potential danger to both mother and unborn child?

Last week, an article by Taya Flores of the Lafayette … read more »

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A new, noninvasive technique combining photoacoustic imaging, a nanoscale contrast agent, and PET should provide much-improved functional imaging of the intestine, according to a paper published this month in Nature Nanotechnology.

Jonathan F. Lovell, PhD, senior author of the article, said tests of the new technique on mice look promising:
We could potentially induce a paradigm shift that allows for much more routine examination of the intestine function. That would really benefit overall health.
Dr. Lovell is assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. He … read more »

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Go big or stay small? Two New Jersey radiology practices found a third way: joining in a partnership that allows them to remain independent but work cooperatively and maximize the amount of today’s hottest commodity in business—data.

The practices are Advanced Radiology Solutions of Toms River and Navesink Radiology of Red Bank. “We were all looking to maintain our independence while getting the advantages of being a larger group,” said Leo Fontana, MD, of Navesink. “If you join a larger group, you can lose a lot of your autonomy. This alliance … read more »

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An MRI scan apparently cost a San Diego teenager $6.5 million earlier this month. The youngster, 17-year-old Brady Aiken, graduated this spring from San Diego’s Cathedral Catholic High School, where he pitched on the baseball team. He pitched so well, in fact, he pitched that the Houston Astros made him the very first pick in Major League Baseball’s annual First-Year Player Draft.

Aiken and the Astros agreed on a contract with a $6.5 million signing bonus. All that remained before the agreement would be concluded was a physical exam, including the … read more »

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