Modern imaging technologies are advancing at breakneck speed, providing detailed, accurate life-saving information faster. Two of the newest advancements are molecular imaging and tomosynthesis mammography.

According to Dr. Stephen Pomeranz, CEO and medical director of ProScan Imaging, imaging and technology continue to evolve, with molecular imaging being a great example. Molecular imaging is a new biomedical research discipline that enables the visualization, characterization and quantification of biologic processes taking place at the cellular and subcellular levels within patients.

"You take a finger stick (to a patient), and with the tiniest amount of blood, you put that blood on an Intel chip on a computer and hook up an ultrasound machine to it. Then you have a little pipette, and you take some antibodies from a certain tumor, drop it on the chip, which will then create heat. The heat is detected by the ultrasound machine, and that means you have that type of tumor somewhere in your body," Pomeranz explains.

"The reason we do that is because it is 100 to 1,000 times more sensitive "¢ it creates a molecular signature, and then you can do an MRI and find the tumor when it is 1/100 or 1/1,000 of the (normal) size. This gives us the opportunity to cure tumors before they form."

There are many different imaging techniques used, and each has advantages and disadvantages over others.

Additionally, Pomeranz says there is a movement among doctors to use a scanner that combines a PET scan with an MRI, so they can overlay the two images.

"This is very valuable when you're looking for tumors, and also in diagnosing dementia in patients. I think that's going to lead us closer to vaccinating dementia diseases like Alzheimer's," he says. "In your lifetime, you will see a cure for Alzheimer's or other types of dementia."

MAMMOGRAPHY IMPROVEMENTS

Like ProScan, TriHealth's Bethesda North's Outpatient Imaging Center on Montgomery Road is also home to state-of-the-art imaging technology and convenient, accessible services, including digital mammography, breast ultrasound, bone density/Dexascan, stereotactic biopsy, general ultrasound, 64-slice CT scanners, high-field MRI scanners, X-rays, Lung Nodule Program and the Pulmonary hypertension program.

According to Dr. Anthony Antonoplos, a Bethesda North radiologist, 3D digital tomosynthesis mammography was introduced at the center as the first-of-its-kind in Greater Cincinnati. This revolutionary mammographic screening generates a series of thin, high-resolution images that allow doctors to view a patient's breast one layer at a time. Several low dose X-rays are taken at different angles. For tomosynthesis, the X-ray tube moves in a circular arc around the breast., taking less than 10 seconds for the imaging. The information is then sent to a computer, which produces a 3-D image. The X-ray dose for a tomosynthesis image is similar to that of a regular mammogram image.

"This is the next step forward," Antonoplos says. "You're better able to detect subtle abnormalities "¢ this has even reduced callbacks by as much as 30 percent."

Recently, the outpatient center added two new MRI machines, which Antonoplos says has its added benefits.

"Manufacturers have made reducing exposure a priority "¢ these machines have better image quality and have reduced radiation by 25 percent," Antonoplos says.

The outpatient center is also home to the Mary Jo Cropper Family Center for Breast Care, which is the only local breast center accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC). The center offers 3D digital tomosynthesis mammography, ultrasound, MRI, breast biopsies and breast cancer rehabilitation.

According to Antonoplos, TriHealth is one of the most comprehensive imaging services centers.

"The entire scope of imaging services is offered here," he says. "When they opened the new outpatient imaging center in 2009, they got the opportunity to design it the way they wanted. It's not your standard clinical aesthetic. It has a nice, nurturing environment "¢ they even reached out to artists in the community who donated their own pieces."

This helps patients feel less anxious, Antonoplos says. "They're really trying to take as much anxiety off patients as possible."

MR. MRI

When Pomeranz entered the medical field in the early 1980s, MRI technology was just starting "to come alive."

Though Pomeranz originally believed he would become an internist or cardiovascular surgeon, he quickly became deeply involved in the imaging and technology field.

"I became very passionate about it when I realized it would revolutionize the way we examine the body," he says.

Twenty-five years ago, Pomeranz says he became one of the first people trained in MRI technology in the region. Since, he has interpreted more than 500,000 MRI results and has written several textbooks, including the three-volume "MRI Total Body Atlas."

Before becoming CEO and Medical Director of ProScan, Pomeranz was director of the imaging department at The Christ Hospital for nearly 15 years.

He decided that he wanted to create his own unique imaging service model.

And that's how ProScan was born.

"I left a very stable, successful position to strike out on my own," Pomeranz says. "I decided to move everything into a more independent setting where I had more flexibility. That's how ProScan came to be."

With its headquarters in Cincinnati, ProScan has expanded to 24 freestanding imaging centers throughout the United States, offering imaging services including MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds and women's imaging.

"We also provide consulting services all around the world, in about 80 countries," says Pomeranz, who works with patients and teaches fellowship programs at the ProScan Imaging Education Foundation.

Together with his wife, Penelope, Pomeranz says they created a service model that was not only of good quality, but one that was comfortable as well.

"The service model we created is akin to the rich, The Four Seasons, but at the same time, providing very good quality giving patients an experience that is comfortable too," he says.

"I focused where my passion was," he says. "My true love and my true passion, which is what I tell my six children and what my wife has taught me, is to help people. Help people feel better and get better, without any politics. We don't send somebody (a patient) because they sent us somebody "¢ it's totally based on quality and it has worked out beautifully." - 

The new 3D digital tomosynthesis mammography system at TriHealth generates a series of thin, high-resolution images that allow doctors to view a patient's breast one layer at a time.



What's What?

CT or CAT scan
Computerized Tomography Scan or Computerized Axial Tomography

Two-dimensional cross-sectional images of structures within the body are created by a computer taking data from multiple X-ray images. Scans, with about 100 times more clarity than a traditional X-ray, can show soft tissue and other structures not seen in conventional X-rays.

MRI
Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Using magnetism, radio waves and a computer, images of body structures are produced with detailed resolution that can detect tiny changes, particularly in the soft tissue, brain and spinal cord, abdomen and joints.

PET Scans
Positron Emission Technology

Specialized imaging technique using short-lived radioactive substances provide three-dimensional colored images with information about the body's chemistry not available with other procedures. Used primarily in cardiology, neurology and oncology.

Ultrasounds

Imaging technique uses a wand-like transducer to produce sound waves beamed into the body causing echoes that are recorded to visualize structures beneath the skin. Especially accurate at seeing the interface between solid and fluid-filled spaces and useful in monitoring the fetus during pregnancy and assessing abdominal issues.

Mammography

An X-ray test that produces an image of the inner breast tissue to spot abnormal structures indicating cysts, calcification and tumors.