Posts Tagged ‘European Radiology’

Imaging Guided Cancer-Therapy – a Discipline in Need of Guidance

 Author – Writer: Dror Nir, PhD

The use of imaging in cancer management is broadly established. During the past two decades, advancements in imaging; image quality, precision and reproducibility lead to introduction of localized, minimally invasive treatments of cancer lesions.

 A statement-paper, published online: 17 January 2013: Radiologists’ leading position in image-guided therapy, which presents the thoughts of the Image-Guided Therapy Working Group within the Research Committee of the European Society of Radiology, give hope that the policy-makers in the European radiology society are becoming aware of the need to guide this process.

Although the authors are addressing imaging guided therapy (IGT) in its broad sense, most of their examples are related to treatment of cancer. The main reason for provided for being concerned with what is happening in this domain is: “This means that the planning, performing and monitoring, as well as the control of the therapeutic procedure, are based and dependent on the “virtual reality” provided by imaging investigations.”

The most interesting points raised by the authors are:

 1. The realization that IGT is involving many “non-radiologist”, and this fact cannot be ignored: “This role is mainly driven by the sophisticated opportunities offered by medical computing and radiological image guidance with regard to precision and minimal invasiveness [2]. However, the impact of radiology on the regulatory medico-legal, technical and radioprotection issues in this field have not yet been defined. Since an increasing number of procedures will probably be performed by non-radiologists, several main questions have to be addressed:

  • How should the radiology training requirements for non-radiologists be provided?
  • How should the technical and radioprotection related responsibilities for radiological imaging systems used by non-radiologists be organised?
  • How should radiologists be involved in the practical routine use of non-radiological image-guided procedures in clinical practice?

Considering the almost pan-European medical reality with decreasing staff resources and increasing diversification and subspecialisation, radiologists have to stress the fact that within a cooperative, goal-oriented and multidisciplinary environment, the specialty-specific knowledge should confer upon radiologists a significant impact on the overall responsibility for all imaging-related processes in various non-radiological specialties (such as purchase, servicing, quality management, radiation protection and documentation). Furthermore, radiologists should take responsibility for the definition and compliance with the legal requirements regarding all radiological imaging, especially if non-radiologists have to be trained in the use of imaging technology for guidance of therapy.”

2. Quality assurance and service standards needs to be established; “Performing IGT necessitates specific quality management tools for establishing standards and maintaining levels of excellence…. A European task force group on IGT might be necessary to further develop certification guidelines and establish requirements for IGT practice according to known standards, focused on common recommendations and certification guidelines.”

3. Controlling the process of introducing new medical devices into this niche-market: “IGT research can be broadly divided into two categories, target specific research (e.g. the type of tumour or vascular lesion by imaging biomarkers) and technical research (e.g. evaluation of a new device or procedure). Understanding the efficacy and application of new and emerging technologies is a critical first step, which then leads to target-specific research. The focus of this research is aimed at understanding when, where and in whom the therapy can provide clear clinical benefit and how to use IGT in conjunction with, or as an alternative to, more established therapies. This also clearly includes research on the development and implementation of imaging biomarkers, defined as objectively measured indicators of normal biological processes, pathological changes, or responses to a therapeutic intervention [9]…..

4. An unusual remark is made in respect to the way new devices are introduced: “Clinical specialists who lack the knowledge and expertise required to champion IGT and who are often already over-committed in pursuing their own research goals often dominate committees in control of other funding streams….”

5. Clear recognition that “health-care costs” is of outmost importance: “Demonstration of the cost effectiveness of IGT methods of treatment and targeting with formal quantification of financial as well as patient benefit would encourage their wider adoption. In a broad perspective, health technology assessment (HTA) might be the way for the systematic evaluation of health-relevant IGT procedures and methods, the effectiveness, safety and economic viability of a health intervention, as well as its social, ethical, legal and organisational effects; and for providing a basis for decisions in the health system.”



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Levy MA, Rubin DL (2011) Current and future trends in imaging informatics for oncology. Cancer J 17(4):203–10PubMedCrossRef


Council Directive 97/43 Euratom, on health protection of individuals against the dangers of ionizing radiation in relation to medical exposure, and repealing Directive 84/466 Euratom, 1997


DIMOND. Measures for optimising radiological information and dose in digital imaging and interventional radiology. European Commission. Fifth Framework Programme. 1998–2002


SENTINEL. Safety and efficacy for new techniques and imaging using new equipment to support European legislation. European Coordination Action. 2005–2007




UNSCEAR (2000) Sources and effects of ionising radiation. United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation Report to the General Assembly with Scientific Annexes


The 2007 recommendations of the international commission on radiological protection


European Society of Radiology (2010) White paper on imaging biomarkers. Insights Imaging 1(2):42–45CrossRef

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