Advances in imaging technology have been a game changer for the diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of cancer. However, the wealth of data generated by multiple imaging modalities and time-point studies poses major challenges for radiation oncologists. Retrieving multiple imaging studies and preparing exams can be tedious and time-consuming, taking valuable time away from reviewing and comparing studies for clinical evaluation.
For instance, patients with metastatic cancer often require multi-modality studies, such as MR and CT, on an ongoing basis to track disease progression and quantify morphological and functional changes to assess treatment response. The radiologist has to scrutinize the studies and then compare them with past studies, which can involve considerable time spent retrieving the relevant images and shifting from one screen to another to study them.
This data also needs to be accessed by oncologists to make decisions at different stages of treatment which presents another hurdle, especially when they are located at various sites.
The solution to imaging overload: medical diagnostic software
Fortunately, just as imaging technology has advanced so has the technology to manage its output. Medical diagnostic software automates workflow to streamline and provide faster access to data. It is designed to organize and display oncology data for more efficient reviews. One such software system is GE Healthcare’s OncoQuant, which offers a comprehensive range of features that enable faster and more efficient processing and analysis of multi-modality imaging studies.
With medical diagnostic software, all types of images – CT, MR, PET/CT, SPECT, 3D X-ray – can be easily stored, reviewed and compared – with no limit on the number of exams. Automatic multi-modality image registration enables two or more exams to be loaded for evaluation. For medical centers using a PACS, this system can be integrated into medical diagnostic software to enhance retrieval and data access.
Reporting and analysis
Using reporting and analysis tools, radiologists are able to scrutinize data in greater detail to improve diagnosis and guide treatment. They can visualize images in many ways and display data from studies on one screen for easy comparison. Stored images and measurements facilitate comparison of past and present studies and dedicated automatic review protocols identify and load like series.
Reports can be quickly generated to display up to four dates including Baseline, NADIR, Prior and Current exams; data from these exams can be exported for further analysis.
In addition, information can be made available outside the radiology department via the hospital network. Images and quantitative measurements can be exported in DICOM with a new layout readable on PACS. Also, statistical data can be exported for further analysis.
Easy access to data for clinicians
Oncologists and other physicians can easily access imaging data – wherever they may be. With one system for managing images, all physicians involved in a patient’s care view the same information, for consistent data to guide diagnosis, surgery and treatment planning, and follow-up. Clinical answers are more objective and independent of the modality, acquisition technique, and clinician. Naturally, this access to data is a major help in clinical trials. Having a structured workflow facilitates data collection for clinical trials: It supports baselining and NADIR to determine patients’ response to treatment according to RECIST guidelines.
Making a difference for radiation oncologists
Medical diagnostic software is helping radiation oncologists at medical centers worldwide. St. Joseph Hospital in Paris uses OncoQuant with a PACS and saves 15 percent in reading time.¹ Oncologists have more confidence in measurement tracking which saves time by reducing the need to repeat the same measurements. The medical imaging department has a structured, repeatable workflow that improves the speed and efficiency of follow-up reviews and provides a system for standardized communication among physicians in the hospital network.
The future of imaging technology: artificial intelligence
Among medical specialties, radiology has been an early adopter of new technologies. Currently, artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning are being incorporated into next-generation scanning devices and medical diagnostic software. AI has the potential to transform oncology imaging in many ways: producing sharper images, freeing radiologists from mundane tasks, extracting the most pertinent data from multiple sources and identifying malignancies that may elude the human eye.
Radiologists will have the tools to maximize efficiency and provide clinicians with more accurate data and astute analyses to improve patient outcomes.
- Assessing Drug Response with Multiple Modalities Using Oncoquant. GE Healthcare. http://www3.gehealthcare.ca/~/media/documents/canada/products/advanced-visualization/testimonials/gehc-testimonial_oncology-workflow-with-oncoquant_boulay.pdf. Accessed April 2, 2018.