IT-driven technologies and methods were key ingredients of the international congress “Computer-Assisted Radiology and Surgery” (CARS) 2012 which took place in Pisa/Italy late June.
Reducing the traumatic impact of surgery on patients: in his opening keynote, Sir Alfred Cuschieri presented the origins, development, and diffusion of minimal access surgery (MAS). The professor of surgery from the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna Pisa, who also holds further academic posts, described how MAS changed surgical practice across the specialties, how it “stimulated further technological progress resulting in a new era of technologically-dependent surgical interventions, and how the quest for further reduction in the traumatic insult to the patient and efforts to improve cosmesis by reduction of visible scars has continued since the introduction of MAS in the mid 1980s”, according to a summary from CARS organizers.
MAS has significantly stimulated the development of surgical simulation for education and training: physical and virtual reality simulators have become embedded in most surgical training curricula to supplement the clinical apprenticeship system. The lessons learned from MAS “should help us in ensuring that future medical disruptive technologies will be introduced more efficiently and without any compromise to patient safety”, according to the CARS synopsis.
Biomedical imaging research, today and tomorrow was the topic of the Takahiro-Kozuka Honorary Lecture delivered by Prof. Hans Ringertz MD, PhD, Department of Radiology, Stanford University, USA, and Center for Imaging Science and Visualization, Linköping, Sweden. “The role of imaging in biomedical research has changed drastically during the last ten years. There is a trend around the world to change the research organization of medical schools in order to stimulate cooperative efforts and increase external funding”, according to the CARS synopsis of the lecture. “On top of the conventional medical university departments, more or less virtual institutes are formed around the major diseases, e.g. neuroscience, oncology, regenerative medicine, and cardiovascular diseases.” Technology-oriented centers for, e.g., IT in medicine, genetics/genomics and biomedical imaging provide an additional layer.
Activities include functional and morphologic imaging from a molecular and cellular level to clinical radiology including modalities such as optical, nuclear, CT, and MR imaging, and also translating results from “bench to bench” and “bench to bedside”. Ringertz sees, in a subsequent phase, a need for a “bedside to society” transition of this technology. The development can be regarded as a change into personalized or precision medicine, suggested the expert. “The role of clinical imaging in its interaction with laboratory and clinical findings will be to make the overall set of individual patient findings available for modeling and data-mining.” Patient information can turn into a “gold mine”, suggested Ringertz, by feeding and refining individualized clinical modeling. “Present attempts to analyze and use the conventional clinical approach are failing due to the limits of human capacity to handle the overwhelming data load.”