Friday, March 8th, 2013 at 5:09 pm
Yesterday saw the opening of the annual European Congress of Radiology (ECR) in Vienna. While almost twenty thousand delegates are expected to attend, the organizers have not forgotten many other interested people who will not have an opportunity to spend time in the beautiful city on the Danube. More than 1400 presentations are being streamed live via the Internet. Astonishingly, anyone located anywhere in the world can register online, free of charge (onsite registration costs almost €1000), and access the most up-to-date information on radiology. Click here to register.
Registration takes just a few minutes and you are then returned to the “Lobby” or live home page. A friendly video introduces the different features, including: an Interactive Programme Planner, your Personal Schedule, a Chatbox, a Social Media Stream and, of course, a window in which the presentation you’ve chosen is broadcast.
There are 25 separate topics at ECR this year, from Abdominal Viscera to Vascular. Breast Imaging has 33 separate sessions that include 183 presentations. Important questions are asked, such as: Should we care about over-diagnosis from screening mammography? and: Should we add ultrasound to mammographic screening of dense breasts?
One of the first events was Breast Care Day sponsored by Siemens where the opening symposium focused on advanced multimodality breast image reading: the role of digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) in diagnostic investigation; and the place of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The challenges in breast imaging were highlighted during the lunch symposium, with presentations on: 3D automated breast ultrasound; high quality but low dose mammography; a pathologist’s perspective; and the feasibility of routine MRI for screening. In the afternoon symposium there were five presentations on DBT, with topics that included physical challenges, screening, abnormalities, clinical follow-up and the future of tomosynthesis.
The benefits of virtual conferences are fairly obvious, including significant cost-savings — no airfares or hotel accommodation to pay — while carbon footprints are significantly reduced. The recession a few years ago propelled the case for virtual conferences, and led to the rise of companies like ON24, although Forbes Insights has conducted a survey of 750 business executives where more than 80% said they preferred face-to-face meetings. At CapeRay our products are tactile commodities, where the end user needs to touch and see our systems in action. This year we have been fortunate to attend ECR Live online, but in 2014 we intend to be physically in Vienna.
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Friday, March 1st, 2013 at 5:50 pm
Stephen Segerman who tracked down Rodriguez. Copyright Sony.
There’s an uplifting story connecting Detroit and Cape Town that came into sharp focus this past Sunday evening. At the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood, the Oscar for the Best Documentary Feature was awarded to Searching for Sugar Man, a biography about Sixto Rodriguez. In the late 1960s Rodriguez, a singer songwriter living in the Motor City, recorded two records, Cold Fact and Coming From Reality, that received positive reviews but went nowhere in America. However, unbeknown to the artist, he was an icon in apartheid South Africa in the early 1970s, said to be more popular than Elvis or the Beatles.
The enigmatic Sugar Man. Copyright Sony.
One of his fans was Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman, the owner of a record store in Cape Town, who recalls, “To many of us South Africans he was the soundtrack to our lives. If you walked into a random white, liberal, middle-class household that had a turntable and a pile of pop records, you would always see Cold Fact by Rodriguez. To us, it was one of the most famous records of all time.”
Despite his success in South Africa, selling in excess of half a million records, Segerman and his friends were astonished to discover that Rodriguez was unknown in America, the ultimate enigma. Rumoured to have committed suicide, Segerman and Craig Strydom set out to discover the true story of the Sugar Man in 1997. Through some determined sleuthing they established that Rodriguez was still alive but living in poverty in Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit, and working as a construction labourer. They arranged for him to visit Cape Town where, 25 years after his musical debut, he was finally recognized for his extraordinary talent. Here’s an excerpt from Establishment Blues, his commentary that still resonates with citizens everywhere:
The mayor hides the crime rate, council woman hesitates
Public gets irate, but forgets the vote date
The system’s gonna fall soon, to an angry young tune
And that’s a concrete cold fact.
If you haven’t yet seen the movie, do yourself a favour, go and see it. Searching for Sugar Man tells the story of a genuinely humble musician — he chose to skip the Oscar ceremony so as not to steal the limelight from the director and producer — who transcended his life’s circumstances. Whether one is an artist or a scientist or an up-and-coming business executive, we can all identify with such inspirational stories.
Friday, February 22nd, 2013 at 4:31 pm
Fifteen years ago two Boston scientists, Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris, were studying selective attention. They devised an experiment that has become a classic in psychology: subjects were shown a video of two teams of teenagers — one team dressed in white and the other in black — passing two basketballs between the players while weaving around one another. The subjects were instructed to focus on a single task: counting the number of times the team in white passed the ball.
This task was not as easy as you might imagine — you can try yourself by clicking here — because the basketballers were constantly moving. About mid-way through the video a man in a gorilla suit wandered into the middle of the players, stopped for a moment, beat his chest and then nonchalantly strolled out of the picture. All research subjects managed to record the number of passes correctly but when asked “Did you see the gorilla?” less than half said “yes”.
Inspired by this paradigm, Trafton Drew from Harvard University has recently completed a project with a group of radiologists. They were asked to study five CT scans of patients’ lungs, each of which had 10 cancerous nodules, and told to click on anything strange or suspicious. On the last of the scans, a dancing gorilla almost 50 times the size of a typical nodule was inserted in the upper right quadrant of the CT scan (click on the image below and see if you can spot the gorilla).
Drew’s findings will soon be published in Psychological Science and show that the radiologists identified the nodules correctly 55% of the time. However, 20 out of 24 failed to see the gorilla despite scrolling past it, on average, at least 4 times. Using eye-tracking equipment, Drew showed that the radiologists spent 6 seconds studying the image with the gorilla while half of them looked directly at it.
While one radiologist has commented that this study “has no bearing on what we’re looking for, which is real pathology, not dancing gorillas”, there is another point of view. An orthopaedic surgeon in Cape Town recently found himself in trouble for not asking his radiological colleagues to review his X-rays of a patient’s shoulder joint he’d operated on. It turns out that the surgeon had missed the presence of a cancerous nodule in the apex of his patient’s lung. Clearly, all clinicians should guard against “inattentional blindness”.