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May 13, 2024

Top Tech Trends Transform IR

The European Congress of Radiology 2024 provided a glimpse of the possibilities, potential, and opportunities of artificial intelligence and augmented reality in the field of interventional radiology (IR). 


IR has always been at the forefront of applying cutting-edge technology, allowing doctors, clinicians, and medical professionals to expand and advance their capabilities. 

The theme of the 2024 medical conference held in Vienna, Austria last February was “Next Generation Radiology”. With featured panels and talks that circled new and emerging technologies for interventional radiology, such as artificial intelligence and augmented reality, the lines between science fiction and real life began to blur in the best ways. 

In his interview with Healthcare in Europe, the European Society of Radiology (ESR) president, Professor Carlo Catalano expounds on ECR 2024’s fascinating theme. He says that it’s imperative to use the technology that has become available now because the demand for imaging studies is increasing worldwide. He thinks that AI can vastly improve not only in diagnosis but in helping medical professionals in hospitals manage workflow as well. 

Further, Professor Catalano says that technology has led to changes in radiology not only in the equipment and devices being used, but more importantly, in how these are being used, especially when it comes to dosage, diagnostics, and teaching and training. 

(Also Read: How AI Can Help Save Lives)

Top Tech Trends Transform IRUnder interventional radiology are many branches of specialization where these new tools are being applied, such as mechanical thrombectomy, which is a procedure where blood clots are removed from the brain after a stroke. 

We can see how technology can vastly improve the performance of doctors when it comes to completing complex and sensitive operations like this, but it becomes more eye-opening when we learn about how these technological tools are applied. 

In terms of hardware, integrating AI into tools such as handheld ultrasound scanners can improve image studies and analysis. For example, in 2023, the bio- technological company Exo launched their portable probe system, Iris, which has a 150-degree field of vision, and a depth of 30 centimeters. Its creator claims that this field of view can cover an entire human liver or a human fetus. 

Professor Jacob Sosna, Chairman of Radiology of the Hadassah Hebrew Medical Center in Jerusalem said that in the long term, AI can help radiologists more comprehensively take into account their patients’ prior history and studies and use multiple modalities. He sees AI as a “virtual resident” that helps radiologists save time so that they can focus on finding better solutions for their patients. 

AI can provide doctors with real-time insights gathered from algorithms and other data available during an IR procedure. It also has the potential to assist in surgery, especially when it comes to guiding surgical devices. It is a helpful teaching and training tool for surgeons, especially when it is combined with augmented reality. 

Augmented reality and mixed reality are emerging technologies that might eventually become indispensable in the field of IR. 

Augmented reality layers the real world with data, graphics, and information, while mixed reality allows virtual objects to interact with real-world objects. Both of these offer amazing possibilities for how radiologists perform their tasks. 

Augmented reality could allow doctors to have a patient’s data visible and accessible to them as they perform procedures on a patient. They don’t need to look away or alternate their view from the patient to multiple screens. 

AR may also display a patient’s anatomy in more realistic ways. According to Galt Medical, by layering previously generated ultrasound or CT scan images, doctors are given clearer visualization of a patient’s body. AR may also help with more sensitive tasks during a procedure such as needle placement, or during navigating through blood vessels. 

Another trend that experts have identified is Radiogenomics. This combines medical imaging and gene patterns. According to Galt Medical, radiogenomics could potentially reduce unnecessary procedures by using imaging data instead of taking a tissue sample to diagnose conditions. 

Finally, robotics continues to improve how procedures are performed inside the operating room by assisting with accuracy and precision. Difficult-to-reach areas inside the patient’s anatomy can be operated on with precision and ease. Robots can also be used in radiographic procedures so that doctors are not exposed to radiation., They can even perform the procedure from another room. 

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