March 2015

Heightened interest in population imaging benefits patients and radiologists.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 (ECR) – Population imaging studies are gaining ground in healthcare, as will be shown during a Professional Challenges Session at the ECR. From the most recently available imaging biomarkers to genomics and metabolomics, imaging large cohorts of patients is becoming central to the prognosis of countless diseases, said Prof. Norbert Hosten, professor of radiology at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University in Greifswald, Germany, ahead of the ECR 2015 Opening Press Conference on Wednesday.

Information gathered in population imaging studies contributes in different ways to medical knowledge, according to Hosten, who will chair the session this Thursday.

“First, the relevance of imaging findings may be confirmed by long-term follow-up. Then, imaging findings may be connected to other information, like results of cognitive function tests, etc. Population imaging plays an important role for radiology, as the large number of subjects included in these studies lead to better acceptance of scientific results,” he said.

Many large multicentre studies are ongoing in Germany, such as the Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP), in which radiologists have teamed up with epidemiologists and performed free whole-body MRI in healthy subjects. Another, the Trauma Cohort multicentre study being carried out by the German Society of Trauma surgery (DGU) and the German Roentgen Society (DRG), aims to identify the most common-sense methods for performing trauma imaging, and determine standardised protocols in the country.

In the Netherlands, significant population imaging studies have been performed over the past two decades, including on a population cohort of 10,000 to 15,000 inhabitants near Rotterdam to find out if population imaging helps to predict neurodegenerative diseases. Biomarkers such as regional brain volumes, distribution and quantification of white matter lesions, subclinical brain infarcts or microbleeds have been identified, and researchers have also been able to pinpoint the structural and microstructural integrity of the white matter associated with the development of mild cognitive impairment and full-blown dementia long before any symptoms arise.

Population imaging is also useful in cardiac and oncology applications, to track early signs of tumour development, and a number of other conditions ranging from liver cirrhosis to osteoporosis, for instance. Multicentre studies in Germany and the UK will be presented during the session, which will also raise the question of the radiologist’s responsibility in these studies. This is an important point in cases where an abnormality is spotted, Hosten pointed out.

“In a traditional epidemiological study, you don’t intervene. In radiology, you know what a kidney tumour looks like, so if you do an MR scan and spot such a tumour, I think you are obliged to intervene. The big question is: when do we and when do we not intervene?” he said.

Norbert Hosten: President of the German Radiological Society, Director of the Institute for Diagnostic Radiology and Neuroradiology at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University in Greifswald, Germany


Thursday, March 5, 16:00–17:30, Room L 1

PC 8b Imaging in population-based studies

  • Chairman’s introduction
    N. Hosten; Greifswald/DE
  • Population imaging for the prediction of neuro-degenerative diseases
    G.P. Krestin; Rotterdam/NL
  • The German National Cohort: population based imaging in a nation-wide multi-centre setting
    F. Bamberg; Munich/DE
  • Population-based cardiac imaging
    S. Petersen; London/UK
  • The Trauma Cohort: a joint project of the German Röntgen Society and the German Society of Trauma Surgery
    S. Langner; Greifswald/DE
  • Ethical aspects of population imaging
    R. Schmücker; Münster/DE
  • Panel discussion: What does the individual gain from population imaging studies?