Friday, November 2, 2012

Loyola celebrating International Day of Radiology

X-ray of hand

Loyola will be observing the first annual International Day of Radiology, which is being held on the 117th anniversary of the discovery of the X-ray. In addition to making medical X-rays possible, the discovery created a pathway to a broad range of other imaging techniques, such as ultrasounds, CT scans, PET scans and MRIs.

"In one way or another, radiology benefits nearly every inpatient and outpatient in the health-care system," said Dr. Scott Mirowitz, chair of Loyola's Department of Radiology.

Imaging technologies have enabled doctors to make faster and more accurate diagnoses. Consequently, patients spend less time in the hospital, are treated more effectively and don't have to undergo invasive exploratory surgeries.

For example, imaging enables doctors to determine the exact nature and location of a fracture; whether a patient’s head has sustained serious damage; or if stomach pains are due to a swollen appendix or other causes that previously might have required exploratory surgery. Radiology also plays a critical role in all stages of cancer care, from early detection and prevention to treatment monitoring.

The New England Journal of Medicine named imaging among the top 10 medical advances of the last 1,000 years.

"Early diagnosis and effective treatment made possible by biomedical imaging and image-guided intervention have contributed to significant improvements in surviving cancer and many other illnesses," Mirowitz said.

For example, the breast cancer death rate has dropped by more than 30 percent since the widespread use of mammograms enabled physicians to catch cancers in the early stages. Radiologic research likely will lead to similar successes with other conditions.

Imaging is among the most cost-effective tools in medicine. Radiology costs are the slowest growing of all physician services among the privately insured, and Medicare spending on imaging scans has not increased since 2003.

"Scans generally cost less than the more invasive and less accurate methods they replaced," Mirowitz said. "And scans can detect illness at earlier stages, when they can be treated most effectively at the lowest cost."

The imaging revolution dates to Nov. 8, 1895, when German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen produced and detected electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength range that today is known as X-rays.

Röntgen's discovery caused a sensation. People were fascinated -- and unsettled -- by the ability to peer into the body and see bones and other previously hidden structures. The Russian czar and the German emperor had themselves X-rayed. The queen of Portugal ordered X-rays of her ladies-in-waiting to demonstrate the harmful effects of corsets, and a French researcher took X-rays of feet crippled by shoes that were too tight.

Many people thought X-rays would enable them to detect human thoughts or see the fourth dimension. And Superman, of course, had "X-ray vision." Newspapers celebrated X-rays, and businessmen and hucksters exploited the "X-ray euphoria." X-rays became popular attractions in carnivals and sideshows, and shoe stores routinely took X-rays of customers' feet.

But in medicine, X-rays served a serious purpose. Rather than relying on exploratory surgeries or educated guesses, doctors now could see inside patients' bodies to make accurate diagnoses.

Ultrasound machines were introduced in the 1950s and gained popularity in the 1960s. The first computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines were introduced in the 1970s.

Today, Loyola University Health System has a full range of state-of-the-art imaging equipment at its main hospital and outpatient center in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital and 13 clinics and centers. The Department of Radiology operates  29 X-ray machines, 16 ultrasound machines, 11 bone-density scanners, 10 CT scanners, 9 MRI scanners, 9 nuclear medicine systems, 8 mammography units, 7 interventional radiology suites, 1 positron emission tomography (PET) scanner and one PET-CT scanner.

The Radiology Department is focused on providing patients with the latest and most comfortable imaging technology. Patients have easy access to nationally recognized subspecialty radiologists who are recognized for their contributions in patient care, teaching and research.

"Imaging technology is constantly evolving and changing for the better," Mirowitz said. "It is becoming faster and more accurate, and providing novel means of peering inside the body to noninvasively evaluate form and function. At Loyola, we are keeping pace with these advances, which are markedly improving the diagnosis and treatment of our patients every day."

The International Day of Radiology is sponsored by the American College of Radiology, the European Society of Radiology, the Radiological Society of North America and other organizations.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.