Slowly but surely, emergency radiology subspecialisation is being recognised, says Denmark’s first full-time emergency radiologist

This year, the main theme of the International Day of Radiology is emergency radiology. To get some insight into the field, we spoke to Dr. Csaba Traply, head of the emergency department radiology unit and chief emergency radiology consultant at the radiology department of Odense University Hospital in Odense, Denmark.

European Society of Radiology: Could you please describe the role of the radiologist in a typical emergency department in your country?
Csaba Traply: Our emergency department, which opened five years ago, is the first of its kind in Denmark. I was the first Danish radiologist to be employed as a full-time, emergency radiologist.
Together with my younger colleagues (who are in rotation in various radiology subsections, including our emergency section) we are part of a team in the emergency department. Our main focus is to give optimal, expedient examinations and diagnoses to incoming patients. Our goal is for patients to have a preliminary diagnosis within four hours of arriving at the emergency department, no matter what the time of day. In our case, patients usually receive a final diagnosis within this period, thanks to having a radiology unit physically located in the emergency department and available around the clock.
In other hospitals in Denmark, similar emergency departments have just been established. Unfortunately, not all of these will include an on-site radiology unit, and among those that do, not all will have an on-site radiologist.
Personally, I cannot imagine emergency radiology without the constant, physical presence of a radiologist, as the condition and required diagnostics for emergency patients can change rapidly. Therefore, I think that our presence and participation as part of the emergency team is essential.

Dr. Csaba Traply is head of the radiology unit in the emergency department and chief consultant in emergency radiology at the radiology department at Odense University Hospital in Odense, Denmark.

ESR: What does a typical day in the emergency department look like for a radiologist?
CT: In the early morning, only few new patients arrive. At around 10:00, the number of patients starts to increase, and the number of visitors peaks between 14:00–20:00. I think that this is a universal pattern in all emergency departments. Naturally, the workload follows this timeline.
Every morning begins by reporting examinations from the previous night, as well as visitation of the previous referrals and the beginning of new examinations. In the meantime, examinations of the newly arriving patients also commence.

ESR: Teamwork is crucial in an emergency department. How is this accomplished in your department and who is involved?
CT: As I already mentioned, in our emergency department, there is an on-site radiology unit with an on-site radiologist and technicians. We are an active part of the team, and in many cases, we are guiding clinicians to choose the appropriate examinations, and often our report influences patients’ treatment. This happens through direct communication and collaboration with the clinicians, often before our final report is released. So far, this works well and is a model in emergency medicine in Denmark. This is why I find it difficult to imagine that examinations take place in the emergency department, but the reporting takes place outside the emergency department.
If necessary, we cooperate and consult with the other subsections in our radiology department (e.g. neuroradiology, thoracic and abdominal radiology).

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Croatian hospital study showed ultrasound requests doubled and CT requests tripled in 10-year period, says Rijeka-based specialist

This year, the main theme of the International Day of Radiology is emergency radiology. To get some insight into the field, we spoke to Prof. Damir Miletić, head of the radiology department at the Clinical Hospital Centre in Rijeka, Croatia.

European Society of Radiology: Could you please describe the role of the radiologist in a typical emergency department in your country?
Damir Miletić: Radiologists are involved with the majority of patients admitted to the emergency department because most adult patients require radiology services as part of their treatment. Sometimes we wonder if all these cases really are emergencies. However, during a busy shift, we don’t have time to check the indication, particularly for conventional radiography. We notice that proper clinical examinations are sometimes not only supplemented with, but often replaced with imaging and blood tests. That is magnified when the emergency department workload overwhelms the staff’s capacity. We encounter ‘defensive medicine’ in some clinical scenarios, but in emergency radiology, it is more evident than in other radiology specialties. Radiologists are imaging consultants for cross-sectional imaging indications like CT, MR or ultrasound in emergency settings because referring physicians are required to contact the radiologist to briefly explain their requests. Conventional radiography, however, does not usually require a radiologist’s approval.

Prof. Damir Miletić is an abdominal radiologist who is head of the radiology department at the Clinical Hospital Centre in Rijeka, Croatia; and chairman of radiology at the medical faculty at the University of Rijeka.

ESR: What does a typical day in the emergency department look like for a radiologist?
DM: A typical day for a radiologist in our country varies with the size of the hospital and its spectrum of specialty departments. In some hospitals, that means 20 patients per 12-hour shift. However in others, that number may increase up to 80 to 120 patients, including 10 to 15 CT scans and 5 to 10 ultrasound examinations. In hospitals with 24-hour shifts, that may be exhausting for radiologists and residents. In Croatian hospitals, interventional and paediatric radiologists have daily or weekly on-call duties. A pilot study in the Croatian university hospital revealed that ultrasound requests doubled and CT requests tripled within the 10-year follow-up, while the number of patients admitted to the emergency department is held constant. That study clearly shows a significant increase in cross-sectional diagnostics per emergency patient.

ESR: Teamwork is crucial in an emergency department. How is this accomplished in your department and who is involved?
DM: A typical radiology team in the emergency-radiology department includes a radiologist, a resident and a radiology technologist. During day shifts, they take care of emergency patients and synchronise emergency examinations with those of regularly scheduled patients. Frequently, experts in various radiology specialties are consulted and, when necessary, directly involved in problem-solving. They enrich quality of our radiological service, particularly when postoperative complications are suspected or in complex interdisciplinary cases. Overnight and weekend shifts are completely different because radiologists and residents are dealing with the whole spectrum of radiological emergencies. In paediatric emergencies, clinicians frequently follow their patients to radiology to attend the examination. This is also the case for adult patients who present with life-threatening emergencies and for patients who require a CT examination due to polytrauma.

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Additional residency training would be beneficial for Russian radiologists who share emergency radiology caseload, says Moscow-based specialist

This year, the main theme of the International Day of Radiology is emergency radiology. To get some insight into the field, we spoke to Moscow radiologist and radiology educator Dr. Elvira Akchurina, a senior radiologist in the Radiology Department of a Federal Center of Treatment and Rehabilitation in Moscow, Russia.

European Society of Radiology: Could you please describe the role of the radiologist in a typical emergency department in your country?
Elvira Akchurina: In our hospital, there is a radiologist on duty at night. The radiologist gets a request for an emergency study and gets acquainted with the case. In complicated cases, and if time permits, the radiologist speaks with the patient or emergency physician to understand the trauma and selects the best diagnostic approach. Radiologists control the examination and interpret its results. Then they discuss the radiologic findings with the emergency physician.

Dr. Elvira Akchurina, MD, PhD, works as a senior radiologist in the Radiology Department of a Federal Center of Treatment and Rehabilitation in Moscow, Russia.

ESR: What does a typical day in the emergency department look like for a radiologist?
EA: Usually it’s a busy day with lots of cases. During breaks radiologists interpret nonemergency cases.

ESR: Teamwork is crucial in an emergency department. How is this accomplished in your department and who is involved?
EA: Effective teamwork is the only way to get the correct diagnosis quickly. Timely diagnosis is crucial for finding the optimal treatment plan in emergency cases. In our department, we use a picture archiving and communication system (PACS), radiological information system (RIS) and hospital information system (HIS), and radiologists have access to patients’ charts. And, of course, the radiologist discusses the clinical history and key imaging findings with the referring physician.

ESR: How satisfied are you with the workflow and your role in your department? How do you think it could be improved?
EA: I like the organisation of workflow in my department and the friendly atmosphere between physicians and nurses. I think it would be better if emergency physicians would offer radiologists more clinical-history detail on patients and provide clearer indication for the examination.

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Teleradiology may diminish the use of ultrasound and reduce radiologists’ skill in its use says French expert

This year, the main theme of the International Day of Radiology is emergency radiology. To get some insight into the field, we spoke to Dr. Kathia Chaumoître, professor and head of the radiology department at North Hospital, Aix Marseille University, France.

European Society of Radiology: Could you please describe the role of the radiologist in a typical emergency department in your country?
Kathia Chaumoître: There are constant interactions between the emergency department and the imaging department. The radiologist is involved in every aspect of patient management: discussion about indication, choice of the best imaging technique, realisation or management of the examination, interpretation and transmittal of results.

Dr. Kathia Chaumoître is professor and head of the radiology department at North Hospital, Aix Marseille University, France.

ESR: What does a typical day in the emergency department look like for a radiologist?
KC: There is not always a dedicated team of radiologists for emergencies during the day. That depends on the size of the institution. Emergency imaging can be mixed with scheduled examinations, or it can be separated, with dedicated CT or MRI scanners. On nights and weekends there is a radiologist on site or on call for ultrasound, CT and MRI. There also are specific teams for interventional radiology, interventional neuroradiology and paediatric radiology, in the case of a teaching hospital.

ESR: Teamwork is crucial in an emergency department. How is this accomplished in your department and who is involved?
KC: In my department, all radiologists are involved in emergency work as part of their schedule. There is a dedicated CT unit for the emergency department (and two additional CT units for scheduled exams); two conventional x-rays rooms in the emergency department, one each for adults and children; and two ultrasound emergency rooms, one for adults and one for paediatric emergencies. Also, there are dedicated time slots for emergency MRIs.

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Shortages of medical staff and equipment pose challenges in many emergency departments, says Romanian radiologist

This year, the main theme of the International Day of Radiology is emergency radiology. To get some insight into the field, we spoke to Dr. Radu Baz, an associate professor of radiology and head of the radiology department at Clinical County Hospital of Constanta, Romania.

European Society of Radiology: Could you please describe the role of the radiologist in a typical emergency department in your country?
Radu Baz: The radiologist is one of the most important members of emergency-service teams in Romania’s major hospitals. Radiologists here must examine and formulate rapid results for a large number of patients.
Because many emergency hospitals don’t have radiology imaging in emergency departments, radiologists dictate cases from the radiology department on emergency devices. In just one 24-hour period radiologists in our department dictated 220 x-rays, 70 ultrasounds and 45 CTs.

ESR: What does a typical day in the emergency department look like for a radiologist?
RB: Shifts start at 8:00, 14:00 and 20:00. During the morning and afternoon shifts there are three radiologists for conventional radiography, CT and MRI; ultrasound examinations often are conducted by the colleague responsible for conventional radiography. In most emergency hospitals, there are two radiologists on call: one who provides ultrasound and standard radiological assessments, and another for emergency CTs.

Dr. Radu Baz is an associate professor of radiology and head of the radiology department at Clinical County Hospital of Constanta, Romania.

Imaging (e.g. radiographic, CT and MRI) examinations are performed by radiology technicians or nurses, often under the direct supervision of physicians, who prioritise all cases. Physicians perform ultrasound examinations. Images are immediately transmitted to the hospital network for the use of clinicians and emergency physicians. Radiologists interpret images immediately from the x-ray console or from work stations in the reading room. Also, radiologists review complex cases in detail with clinician colleagues to assure proper case management.

ESR: Teamwork is crucial in an emergency department. How is this accomplished in your department and who is involved?
RB: Yes, indeed. Teamwork is essential in an emergency department. Direct and immediate collaboration with radiologists and their clinician colleagues helps us get through difficult cases. There often are situations when we call to ask advice from a radiologist colleague or ask to examine images while collecting clinical data. Also, there often are situations when we simply need to consult with a clinician on a case for a more in-depth approach.

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CT examinations up by more than 300% over 15 years, while number of emergency patients has increased only 10% says Swiss specialist

This year, the main theme of the International Day of Radiology is emergency radiology. To get some insight into the field, we spoke to Swiss radiologist Prof. Pierre-Alexandre Poletti, currently in charge of the emergency radiology unit and vice-chairman of the radiology service at the University Hospital of Geneva in Geneva, Switzerland.

European Society of Radiology: Could you please describe the role of the radiologist in a typical emergency department in your country?
Pierre-Alexandre Poletti: Emergency radiologists in Switzerland adhere to the most appropriate imaging protocols and algorithms for emergency patients to optimise and expedite the radiological management of emergency-department patients in term of quality of care and improvement of workflow.
Also, radiologists have to teach the fundamentals and the specifics of emergency radiology to the radiology residents in the emergency department. They must establish links and close collaborations between the emergency radiology team and the various subspecialties in radiology.

Prof. Pierre-Alexandre Poletti is currently in charge of the emergency radiology unit and vice-chairman of the radiology service at the University Hospital of Geneva in Geneva, Switzerland.

ESR: What does a typical day in the emergency department look like for a radiologist?
PAP: As part of their workflow, emergency radiologists work using various imaging modalities (mainly CT, ultrasound and conventional radiology) chosen to adapt to the specific clinical suspicions of the emergency physician. The senior radiologists supervise the examinations performed by the residents to discuss specific problems they may have. The radiologists participate in multidisciplinary events, such as case presentations, journal clubs, and morbidity and mortality meetings.

ESR: Teamwork is crucial in the emergency department. How is this accomplished in your department and who is involved?
PAP: Representatives of the radiological team have regular meetings with various emergency-team members to address the radiological and clinical-management concerns of emergency patients. Complex problems, such as the optimisation of imaging protocols and algorithms, are referred to small reflection groups, who will meet and return to their colleagues with a proposed solution.

ESR: How satisfied are you with the workflow and your role in your department? How do you think it could be improved?
PAP: Workflow is one of the main problems radiologists face in the emergency room, especially as it relates to CT imaging. Indeed, in our institution, like probably in many other hospitals, the number of CT examinations performed annually has increased by more than 300% (4,500 to 15,000) over a 15-years period, while emergency department admissions have increased only by about 10% during the same period. The satisfaction of emergency radiologists is linked directly to their ability to solve problems associated with this increased workload: long wait times for CT scans; psychological effects of heavy workloads on the radiological team; and disagreement with clinician colleagues regarding patient triage for the scanner. Read more…

Financial, structural and legal changes are necessary to improve radiology workflow, says Ukrainian radiologist

This year, the main theme of the International Day of Radiology is emergency radiology. To get some insight into the field, we spoke to Dr. Anton Nosov, MD, head of the radiology department at the Kyiv City Children’s Diagnostic Center in Kyiv, Ukraine

European Society of Radiology: Could you please describe the role of the radiologist in a typical emergency department in your country?
Anton Nosov: In our country, the role of a radiologist in the emergency department depends on situations outside of the hospital. Usually, radiologists are members of a multidisciplinary team, where they provide high quality, timely final readings for patients, which guarantees that decisions are made in consensus.
But everything changes in the case of extreme conditions, such as an unexpected military conflict (as we faced in eastern Ukraine) or other situations with enormous casualties (e.g. technogenic disasters or terrorist attacks). Such situations require rapid decision-making in conditions where there is a shortage of medical staff. In those cases, radiologists must draw quick conclusions directly from CTs or x-rays based on triage priority to ensure the survival of the most patients. This is a difficult job psychologically.

Anton Nosov, MD is a radiologist with a special clinical and research interest in emergency radiology.

ESR: What does a typical day in the emergency department look like for a radiologist?
AN: Of course, in the emergency department we face many cases every day, but the vast majority of them are trauma cases.
Trauma is a tremendous burden for hospitals and healthcare systems, affecting 135 million people worldwide annually. In Ukraine, the majority of these injuries are caused by motor-vehicle accidents, falls from heights and violent altercations.
The most pressing concern of any trauma team is stopping active haemorrhage, which is the most common cause of death in polytrauma patients.
Modern trauma management heavily relies on imaging, particularly CT scans. Most major centres now forego plain x-ray imaging in favour of diagnostic CT, which provides much higher sensitivity and can detect any active extravasation or bleeding. Our evidence suggests that well-timed use of CT increases the chance of survival in polytraumatised patients.

ESR: Teamwork is crucial in the emergency department. How is this accomplished in your department and who is involved?
AN: A multidisciplinary team is the only way to approach complex cases, such as polytrauma. We don’t have a fixed trauma team, but usually such a team consists of an anaesthesiologist, a radiologist, and a trauma surgeon or neurosurgeon. Trauma surgeons often serve as the case managers. The anaesthesiologist initiates ventilation of the patient; the radiologist interprets the imaging studies, and the trauma surgeon manages the case.

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Severe shortage of radiologists creates growing demand for teleradiology services and forces hospitals to outsource, says UK specialist

This year, the main theme of the International Day of Radiology is emergency radiology. To get some insight into the field, we spoke to Dr. Elizabeth Dick, BSc, MD, consultant radiologist and honorary senior lecturer at Imperial College London, United Kingdom.

European Society of Radiology: Could you please describe the role of the radiologist in a typical emergency department in your country?
Elizabeth Dick: It varies. In many hospitals, traditional model remains; radiology and emergency departments are distant from each other. There may be one or two consultant radiologists with an interest in emergency imaging who are the ‘go to’ radiologists for the emergency team during the day. After hours, on-call radiologists will be the point of contact, but they are busy with many services, and increasingly may be remote from the hospital they cover.

Dr. Elizabeth Dick, BSc, MD has worked as a consultant radiologist and honorary senior lecturer at Imperial College London since 2002.

Teleradiology often is used to deliver after-hours care, with obvious advantages. The result is an inevitable loss of personal interaction between the radiology and emergency departments. However, set against this traditional model is the ‘gold standard’. Since 2010, a network of major trauma centres was set up across the UK to deliver excellence in trauma care. In these centres, radiologists usually are an integral part of the trauma team, and the CT scanner is usually co-located in the emergency department. This has a ripple effect: Not only is trauma imaging improved, with resulting lower morbidity and mortality, but all emergency patients benefit from a closer relationship between radiologists and the emergency department team.

ESR: What does a typical day in the emergency department look like for a radiologist?
ED: I start my day at 7am by checking all the reports from the night before so that I can speak to the emergency teams as they do their ward rounds at 8am. Our radiology registrars and residents do two, twelve-hour shifts (8am to 8pm), so this is a good opportunity for the on-call registrars to discuss cases they found particularly challenging. Like all hospitals, we perform more imaging examinations each year. On average, there are at least 25 patients who get imaging (mainly CT) overnight, which means a huge responsibility for the radiology registrars on call. Although they may reach out to the duty consultant during their call, for most scans, registrars issue a report based on their own findings. We regularly audit their reports, and the discrepancy rate is very low – probably due to the fact that they strive to work hard to learn. Also, they get a lot of training and support before, during and after being on call.

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IDoR 2016 Cake Competition: VOTE for the winner!

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Over the last few years we have seen more and more people getting into the spirit of the International Day of Radiology (IDoR), holding parties and get-togethers around the world. In the photographs of these celebrations there is often a delicious looking cake, so this year we decided to encourage this as much as possible by launching the IDoR Cake Competition, with a grand prize of free registration for the European Congress of Radiology 2017, along with two nights hotel accommodation.

We received lots of submissions, but below is our jury’s selection of the most original and creative entries. Please vote for your favourite – the cake with the most votes at 12:00 (CET) on November 16 will be our winner!

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Interview: Prof. Boris Brkljačić, professor of radiology and Vice-Dean at the University of Zagreb School of Medicine, Croatia

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This year, the main theme of the International Day of Radiology is breast imaging. To get some insight into the field, we spoke to Prof. Boris Brkljačić, professor of radiology and Vice-Dean at the University of Zagreb School of Medicine, Croatia, and Chairman of the ESR Communications and External Affairs Committee.

European Society of Radiology: Breast imaging is widely known for its role in the detection of breast cancer. Could you please briefly outline the advantages and disadvantages of the various modalities used in this regard?
Boris Brkljačić: Mammography, ultrasound and MRI are three modalities used for the detection of breast cancer. Mammography has been used for many decades, and the introduction of full flat panel digital mammography has enabled image acquisition with a lower radiation dose, and other advantages in image processing and biopsies. Mammography is used widely in breast cancer screening and has been validated through decades of screening. It is also the initial imaging method in women older than 40 and it enables the detection of microcalcifications, the early signs of ductal cancer in situ, and the majority of breast cancers, depending on the radiographic density of the breast. It can also be used to guide biopsy of microcalcifications. The denser the breasts are, the lower the sensitivity of mammography in detecting breast lesions, which is the disadvantage of mammography. The new mammographic method, digital tomosynthesis, improves the detection rate of cancer in dense breasts. Mammography exposes patients to radiation and is therefore not recommended in young women because their breasts are very radiosensitive.

Prof. Boris Brkljačić, Professor of Radiology and Vice-Dean at the University of Zagreb School of Medicine, Croatia, and Chairman of the ESR Communications and External Affairs Committee.

Prof. Boris Brkljačić, Professor of Radiology and Vice-Dean at the University of Zagreb School of Medicine, Croatia, and Chairman of the ESR Communications and External Affairs Committee.

Ultrasound is an imaging method that provides images based on the acoustic properties of tissues. The blood flow in lesions can be analysed by colour Doppler ultrasound, and elasticity of lesions can be analysed and quantified by sonoelastography. The advantage of ultrasound is that it is completely harmless; it does not expose patients to radiation, and is an excellent method for the guidance of biopsies of all sonographically visible lesions. Ultrasound can demonstrate cancers that are not visible in mammographically dense breasts, and is the complementary imaging modality to mammography, both in diagnosis and in screening. Some U.S. states legally oblige physicians to inform women about mammographic density and advise them of additional methods of examination in dense breasts. Among many advantages in ultrasound technology are the automated whole-breast ultrasound systems that have recently been introduced to the market. The disadvantage of ultrasound is that it increases the number of false-positive findings.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast has gained considerable importance over the last two decades and is used more and more in breast imaging. It is used in high-risk screening, in the detection of occult cancer with positive lymph nodes, and in the evaluation of implants, and it is the best method for detecting the presence of and assessing the distribution and extent of cancer. It can also be used to monitor the success of neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and is an excellent method for looking for residual cancer or recurrence after treatment. MRI is relatively expensive and time consuming, although abbreviated MRI protocols have recently been introduced.

For treatment planning and monitoring it is very important to know the exact type and grade of cancer, and its immunohistochemical profile. Image guided biopsy is crucial in relation to that, and all imaging methods enable precise, image-guided biopsy to obtain an adequate sample from the breast cancer and other breast lesions.
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