University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Vermont Medicine Magazine

DEPARTMENT OF Radiology ~ 2014 Annual Report

Kristen DeStigter, M.D., Interim Chair

The Department of Radiology has focused on and implemented several quality improvement initiatives. The radiology ”high reliability” program has encompassed several important projects, including both a radiation dose monitoring system (to track radiation dose for each patient over their lifetime), and a clinical decision support system (to help ordering doctors know which radiology test is most appropriate based on scientifically proven data). Patient chart information is now available on radiologist reading workstations. When a radiologist views an imaging study, the patient’s complete electronic health record is available on the same workstation, allowing the radiologist access to key patient history that can help guide the diagnosis.

We also implemented a closed loop communication system to track radiologist recommendations for follow-up studies (e.g. short term follow-up for a pulmonary nodule). The digital librarians track identified patients and confirm the recommended follow-up study has been performed, deferred or declined. This ensures that the patient will receive the necessary follow-up in time.

The use of ionizing radiation, especially in computed tomography (CT) and interventional radiology, is a concern, especially for patients who undergo multiple imaging studies. To track a patient’s lifetime exposure we have installed a radiation dose monitoring system. With our partners at Philips Healthcare, we have also installed CT technology that dramatically reduces the radiation dose while maintaining imaging quality. The technology, Iterative Model Reconstruction (IMR) enables a 60–80 percent lower radiation dose, and we are working closely with Philips to further optimize protocols. In interventional radiology, another upgrade that we have installed this year is “Clarity”, which through changes in hardware and software enables exams to be performed with the same image quality but only half the radiation dose.

Important research initiatives continue in Radiology. Radiology faculty contributed to more than 50 research projects, including many from the College of Medicine, other UVM Departments, and industry-sponsored projects. Through generous funding from the Fearons family, researchers are investigating newly developed MRI techniques as biomarkers for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). These techniques — some of which have been developed at UVM and benefit from the newly upgraded research MRI — aim to provide early diagnosis for patients at risk of AD, enabling earlier and more effective treatment, as well as monitoring the effects of treatment. Additionally we continue with our successful international ultrasound program in sub-Saharan Africa.

The department remains dedicated to providing exceptionally high quality radiology services to the Vermont community. As an academic center, we are also strongly committed to research and education, providing training to medical students and residents by nationally and internationally acclaimed faculty, using state-of-the-art imaging resources and equipment.

Last modified January 29 2015 11:49 AM