What Do You Consider to Be the Top Medical Advances of the Past 20 Years?

Ryan Syrek, Editor


May 27, 2015

Multislice CT: This is a huge advancement compared with earlier versions of single- or double-slice CT. The technology makes diagnosis much more accurate, as in CT angiography, which has revolutionized the workup of patients with suspected pulmonary embolism.

Teleradiology: Teleradiology allows even remote, rural facilities to get information back quickly from a radiologist. Twenty years ago, the physicians in the emergency department examined the findings until the radiologist came in the next morning. Now, with teleradiology, the finalized reads are completed in real time, greatly improving the practice of rural emergency medicine.

Computer-aided diagnosis: Computer-aided diagnosis has been critical in mammography, increasing study accuracy in conjunction with human readers. It also has made great strides in the area of cardiac imaging, particularly nuclear cardiology, in which computer analysis alone rivals that of a human expert reader.

Imaging-guided procedures: Ultrasonography- and CT-guided biopsies and procedures are now commonplace; 20 years ago, the complication rate from biopsies was much higher, and the false-negative rate was also much higher. Procedures previously done blind, such as peritoneal tap or thoracocentesis, have a much lower complication rate because of ultrasonography-guided needle placement. The complication rate from central lines has also dramatically decreased with ultrasonographic guidance.

PET: This has increased the sensitivity for detection of metabolic changes associated with cancer and other diseases. A greater view of disease can now be achieved by combining the metabolic information provided by PET with the anatomical information provided by CT. The use of the tracer fluorodeoxyglucose with PET/CT has become a powerful tool for determining tumor volume and for tumor staging and restaging.

Top radiology advances selected by Thomas F. Heston, MD, Director of Nuclear Medicine, Center for Medical Testing, Family Care Network, Bellingham, Washington; Adjunct Assistant Professor of Radiology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland; Visiting Professor, International American University, Los Angeles, California.

For more on PET as a major advancement, read here.


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