RSNA 2011: El jefe de Siemens explica cómo 7-T, PET- SR. podría brillar la luz en el cerebro

por Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | December 05, 2011
Dr. Gregory Sorensen
Siemens Healthcare's newly installed CEO passed around his brain to attendees at the Radiological Society of North America's annual conference in Chicago last week - well, a plastic replica of his brain.

In a talk celebrating new advances in imaging technology, especially as it relates to understanding the brain, Dr. Gregory Sorensen, a neuro-radiologist who took the reins at Siemens' health care business in the spring, had his daughter pass around a copy of his brain. The model was created by a 3-D printer based on his own brain scan.

"We brain imagers have just had a blast in the last couple of decades," he said during his talk, RSNA's annual Eugene P. Pendergrass lecture.

In the talk, called "Mechanistic Imaging—MR-PET, 7 TESLA MRI and Beyond," he outlined how new technology such as the recently launched hybrid PET-MR scanners and yet-to-be commercially available 7-T MRIs could aid in fighting the scourge of "misdiagnosis," which he characterized as one of the big health care challenges of the coming decade.

While surgical and medication errors have made headlines - Sorensen cited the case of Betsy Lehman, a newspaper columnist who died in 1994 after accidentally receiving a chemotherapy overdose - misdiagnosis is also a serious problem. About 40,000 to 80,000 patients die every year in U.S. hospitals because of misdiagnosis, he said. (The numbers come from a 2002 Journal of the American Medical Association article.) And improving diagnoses is where new imaging technologies, of course, really stand to make a difference.

Unraveling the brain

Another area that could benefit by new technologies is the brain. Sorensen noted that it has some unique challenges: for one, it's the only organ where there's no histological trace for many disorders, he said. (A slide of brain matter under the microscope won't reveal evidence for most psychiatric problems, for instance.) Also, many experts can't agree even on how many cell types make up the brain.

Plus, the global health and economic toll from neurological and psychiatric disorders is immense. For instance, Sorensen said the world's leading culprit for disability-adjusted life years lost is depression (cardiovascular disease comes in at number two). And at least six of the top 10 global health threats involve the brain - from alcoholism to traffic accidents.

But in imaging, progress is being made. For example, scientists have developed imaging algorithms to generate mathematical models of the brain, "smoothing" out the coils to allow doctors to better assess the thickness of certain regions. With this, for example, scientists have shown that some areas, such as the temporal lobe, experience greater loss of thickness than is normal for aging in those with Alzheimer's disease.

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