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Top 5 Trends from RSNA 2018 in Chicago: PART ONE

As most of you in the industry know, the Radiological Association of North America (RNSA) held it's annual conference at the end of November... Countless vendors showed off their latest and greatest developments pertaining to medical imaging, and professionals and industry intellectuals informed us about what we can expect in the next few years.

We know that with so much information coming from the show, it's hard for important information to get lost in the shuffle. Well, the gracious folks at Aunt Minnie have compiled their Top 5 Trends again for us this year so that even if you didn't attend the conference, you now know some of the highlights. Read below for Trends #1 and #2, and come back later in the week for the second installment in this 2-part series...

Top 5 Trends from RSNA 2018

Stop us if you've heard this before, but there was a dominant theme at this year's RSNA 2018 meeting in Chicago. And that theme, believe it or not, was artificial intelligence (AI).

As at RSNA 2017, sessions on AI and the related topics of machine learning and deep learning dominated the halls of McCormick Place. However, although the topics were similar from year to year, the debate around artificial intelligence has begun to shift in subtle ways.

Gone is the paranoia about AI taking radiologists' jobs -- but, to be honest, that disappeared a couple of years ago. It's been replaced by a frank discussion of the best way to put AI to work for radiologists, such as whether AI should be launched from the PACS or the reporting system. Also, which of the AI "marketplaces" under development will achieve dominance? And how will reimbursement be handled? The coming year should be an exciting one as more AI algorithms receive regulatory clearance and begin to move into clinical use.

In addition to AI, gadolinium deposition was another hot topic at RSNA 2018, as researchers struggle to figure out what's causing the phenomenon. Other important trends included contrast-enhanced ultrasound and the maturation of 3D printing.

1. AI Once Again Dominates RSNA, But Caution Emerges

Artificial intelligence was omnipresent at RSNA 2018, beginning with RSNA President Dr. Vijay Rao's call in her opening address for radiologists to embrace AI in order to situate the specialty once again at the center of patient care.

Commercial activity around AI continues to surge as start-ups and established companies alike vie to secure a niche in the burgeoning new era of AI-enabled radiology. The Machine Learning Showcase grew dramatically in size, with more than 70 small companies joining the fray to display their latest algorithms.

Elsewhere on the show floor, traditional imaging and IT firms spotlighted their AI initiatives throughout their booths. A number of vendors highlighted efforts to enable radiologists to utilize AI as part of their normal PACS workflow, addressing a key problem that could impede clinical adoption if unsolved.

The scientific program at RSNA 2018 was also permeated by presentations on AI. Researchers traveled to Chicago to share their progress in developing deep-learning algorithms for a variety of clinical applications, such as detecting all types of intracranial hemorrhage, classifying liver lesions on MRI scans and explaining the findings, characterizing pulmonary nodules on CT, acquiring diagnostic-quality MR images with just a fraction of the typical dose of a gadolinium-based contrast agent, and helping to avoid unnecessary thyroid nodule biopsies.

Other hot areas included triaging studies that need urgent review by radiologists, lowering radiation dose and decreasing scanning time, improving the accuracy of digital mammography and digital breast tomosynthesis, facilitating the communication of urgent results, and analyzing radiomics data for assessing risk and predicting treatment response. There was also a flurry of scientific papers showing high performance for detecting a variety of conditions on chest x-rays.

While excitement over the potential of AI in radiology remains high, there was also a growing awareness at RSNA 2018 of the thorny challenges that still need to be addre