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By Wayne Forrest, AuntMinnie.com staff writer
November 3, 2016

Once again at this year's annual meeting of RSNA, researchers and clinicians will offer a myriad of studies and poster presentations to show how they are continually tweaking, expanding, and experimenting with MRI to explore beyond current clinical boundaries.

MRI might be one of the oldest imaging modalities, but it is far from a staid technology. Combinations of imaging techniques serve to heighten the utility of MRI and lead to new discoveries. Witness the number of studies in Chicago that feature multiparametric MRI for applications ranging from cardiology to neurology.

MRI also helps researchers delve deep into the brains of Alzheimer's patients and people with mild cognitive impairment to see where these conditions manifest. The modality also has provided crucial information on how concussions and traumatic brain injuries represent a potential link to degenerative neurological disorders such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), even holding the promise of diagnosing CTE while a patient is still alive instead of at autopsy.

Beyond the traditional clinical setting, functional MRI (fMRI) offers a window to addictive behavioral patterns, such as substance abuse, as well as delving into the reasons why we laugh, feel hunger, and even crave a beer.

MRI's influence is expanding in cancer, where biomarkers to characterize tumors, assess response to the appropriate therapy, and help predict subsequent survival could benefit patients with uterine cervix, endometrial, and breast cancers, as well as colorectal liver metastases. Certain MRI biomarkers also are expected to help quantify and evaluate pulmonary vascular disease and aid in the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus.

The pairing of MRI with PET remains attractive to researchers who use the hybrid modality to investigate clinical applications that traditionally have been the domain of PET and PET/CT. Reduced radiation exposure from MRI, compared with CT, is an obvious benefit to patients, especially those facing multiple scans. PET/MRI, however, still must overcome the not-so-subtle challenges of its hefty purchase price and operating costs, as well as longer scan times.

Always in the background of any contrast-based MRI procedure is the issue of gadolinium-based contrast agents. Recent studies have struck both cautionary and conciliatory chords by debating to what degree clinicians should be concerned about minute traces of gadolinium in brain tissue many years after administration. Even with these concerns, the ultimate decision is balancing the benefit against the risk for the patient.

Of course, the best way to learn about current and future trends in MRI is to visit RSNA 2016. A complete rundown on all scheduled presentations, abstracts, posters, refresher courses, and educational forums is available here.

But, first, peruse the list of the scientific sessions below with comments from the presenters on how their findings could affect your radiology practice.

Scientific and Educational Presentations
Gadoxetate-enhanced MRI helps predict cancer survival
Sunday, November 27 | 11:05 a.m.-11:15 a.m. | SSA07-03 | Room E353A
Researchers have found that MRI with the contrast agent gadoxetate is an efficient way to enhance tumors and, thus, determine long-term survival in patients with colorectal liver metastases.
MRI solves questions of adhesive capsulitis
Sunday, November 27 | 11:05 a.m.-11:15 a.m. | SSA15-03 | Room S406B
MRI can diagnose adhesive capsulitis in a high proportion of clinically asymptomatic patients, according to this study being presented on the opening day of RSNA 2016.
MRI texture analysis aids patients with cervical cancer
Sunday, November 27 | 11:25 a.m.-11:35 a.m. | SSA11-05 | Room E353B
Texture analysis of MRI scans offers a promising imaging biomarker for tumor heterogeneity and predicting tumor response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in patients with cervical cancer, according to a group from Italy.
Machine learning can assess MR image quality
Sunday, November 27 | 11:25 a.m.-11:35 a.m. | SSA22-05 | Room S405AB
German researchers will explain in this scientific presentation how machine-learning technology can handle the challenge of assessing the image quality of MR studies.
DCE-MRI provides biomarkers for endometrial cancer
Sunday, November 27 | 11:45 a.m.-11:55 a.m. | SSA11-07 | Room E353B
In this talk, researchers will discuss how dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI (DCE-MRI) is an effective tool for detailing tumor microvasculature in endometrial cancer and how that information can help predict patient survival.
Study links MRI biomarkers with breast cancer prognosis
Monday, November 28 | 10:40 a.m.-10:50 a.m. | SSC08-02 | Room S402AB
Certain MRI biomarkers may provide an early prediction of how a breast cancer patient will respond to the first cycle of neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and they may help determine whether additional treatment is necessary, according to a new study.
MRI with ultrashort echo time advances lung screening
Monday, November 28 | 11:00 a.m.-11:10 a.m. | SSC03-04 | Room S404CD
In this Monday morning session, German researchers will extol the benefits of 3-tesla MRI with ultrashort echo time for creating high-resolution images comparable to those of CT for lung nodule characterization.
MRI shows benefits for renal cell carcinoma
Monday, November 28 | 11:10 a.m.-11:20 a.m. | SSC06-05 | Room N228
By better analyzing renal cell carcinoma, MRI could be a beneficial tool for determining whether patients with the disease should receive surgery or other treatments, say U.S. researchers.
MRI tracks the potential effects of too much iron
Monday, November 28 | 11:40 a.m.-11:50 a.m. | SSC06-08 | Room N228
This presentation offers some words of advice for radiologists: Watch for possible adrenal gland involvement, especially in the spleen, liver, and/or bone marrow, in cases of hemosiderosis.
CAD boosts MRI proficiency for prostate cancer
Monday, November 28 | 11:50 a.m.-12:00 p.m. | SSC08-09 | Room S402AB
Adding computer-aided detection (CAD) results in greater sensitivity and interreader agreement for radiologists interpreting multiparametric MRI scans for prostate cancer, as well as reduced reading times, according to researchers from Italy.
Stepping test: A reliable way to measure 7-tesla MRI side effects
Monday, November 28 | 11:50 a.m.-12:00 p.m. | SSC11-09 | Room N226
The Unterberger stepping test is a viable way to measure how 7-tesla MRI may affect the inner ear and, hence, the sense of balance, German researchers have concluded.
Technique offers efficient analysis of MRI data for Alzheimer's
Monday, November 28 | 3:00 p.m.-3:10 p.m. | SSE18-01 | Room N229
In this Monday scientific session, researchers will outline a novel approach to differentiating early Alzheimer's disease patients from control subjects.
MRI study targets chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy
Monday, November 28 | 3:10 p.m.-3:20 p.m. | SSE14-02 | Room E450B
This pilot study with MR neurography and diffusion-tensor MRI shows how the two imaging techniques could enhance the evaluation of peripheral nerves in patients with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.
Real-time fMRI tackles smoking cessation
Monday, November 28 | 3:30 p.m.-3:40 p.m. | SSE17-04 | Room N228
In the battle to help patients quit smoking successfully, real-time functional MRI (fMRI) may provide the ammunition to succeed once and for all. The goal is to reduce neural activity in certain regions of the brain that are most affected by nicotine exposure, according to researchers from Germany.
Neuro atlas seeks to take fMRI to the next level
Monday, November 28 | 3:50 p.m.-4:00 p.m. | SSE17-06 | Room N228
To overcome the limitations of functional MRI (fMRI), a group of researchers is developing an atlas to significantly enhance brain imaging and other related fMRI applications.
Dutch researchers add TWIST to breast MRI
Tuesday, November 29 | 9:10 a.m.-9:20 a.m. | RC315-04 | Arie Crown Theater
Dutch researchers may have found a way to make breast cancer screening less expensive and time-consuming through an ultrafast dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI sequence known as time-resolved angiography with stochastic trajectories (TWIST).
Uroradiologists can add value to MRI prostate reads
Tuesday, November 29 | 10:30 a.m.-10:40 a.m. | SSG05-01 | Room N229
How valuable are uroradiologists as a second opinion for multiparametric MRI reads of the prostate to detect cancer? German researchers say their input can significantly improve both negative and positive predictive values.
Turn to multiparametric MRI to rule out prostate cancer
Tuesday, November 29 | 10:40 a.m.-10:50 a.m. | SSG05-02 | Room N229
Multiparametric MRI is extremely proficient in ruling out clinically significant prostate cancer, especially in patients with a previous negative biopsy, according to researchers from Canada.
Deep learning detects, labels vertebrae on lumbar MRI
Tuesday, November 29 | 12:15 p.m.-12:45 p.m. | IN227-SD-TUA4 | Lakeside, IN Community, Station 4
A new study has shown that deep-learning technology can detect and label vertebrae on lumbar MR studies.
Deep learning shows promise for spotting prostate cancer
Tuesday, November 29 | 12:15 p.m.-12:45 p.m. | IN229-SD-TUA6 | Lakeside, IN Community, Station 6
In this poster presentation, researchers will highlight the potential of deep learning in detecting clinically significant prostate cancer on multiparametric MRI scans.
How to distinguish radiation necrosis from tumor recurrence
Wednesday, November 30 | 10:40 a.m.-10:50 a.m. | SSK15-02 | Room N229
This Wednesday morning session will address how routine MRI scans could help solve one of neuro-oncology's biggest challenges: distinguishing radiation necrosis from tumor recurrence on follow-up scans.
ASL-MRI works for regional lung perfusion imaging
Wednesday, November 30 | 10:50 a.m.-11:00 a.m. | SSK05-03 | Room S404CD
Regional lung perfusion imaging with noncontrast arterial spin labeling (ASL) at 3-tesla MRI is feasible and may provide new quantitative biomarkers for evaluating pulmonary vascular disease, according to this study from U.S. researchers.
Novel MRI technique enhances reads of carotid artery hemorrhage
Wednesday, November 30 | 11:40 a.m.-11:50 a.m. | SSK15-08 | Room N229
In this talk, Canadian researchers will detail the success of their newly developed semiautomated 3D MRI technique to quantify carotid artery intraplaque hemorrhage.
MRI study targets biomarkers for diabetes mellitus
Thursday, December 1 | 10:40 a.m.-10:50 a.m. | SSQ06-02 | Room E350
Researchers from Sweden are using MRI to profile the body composition of people with diabetes mellitus to provide direct biomarkers and improve characterization and early diagnosis of the disease.
Are all those C-spine MRI scans necessary?
Thursday, December 1 | 11:00 a.m.-11:10 a.m. | SSQ05-04 | Room S405AB
This presentation will cover the need for C-spine MRI exams in acute trauma patients, and U.S. researchers will explain how understanding the frequency of findings can help radiologists guide ordering physicians as to the modality's appropriate use.
German study offers new method to determine liver iron content
Thursday, December 1 | 11:40 a.m.-11:50 a.m. | SSQ06-08 | Room E350
German researchers have developed an approach using a signal-intensity ratio to more quickly and efficiently determine liver iron content on gradient-echo MRI and eliminate the need for sophisticated mathematics.
What does MRI have to do with SONK?
Thursday, December 1 | 11:40 a.m.-11:50 a.m. | SSQ12-08 | Room E451A
In case you're wondering, SONK stands for spontaneous osteonecrosis of the knee, which is related to a subchondral fracture. In this Thursday session, researchers will discuss how MRI can help assess this pesky break and predict how well patients will recover.
Study reveals global preoperative breast MRI utilization
Thursday, December 1 | 11:50 a.m.-12:00 p.m. | SSQ01-09 | Room E450A
How do physicians use preoperative breast MRI scans for women with newly diagnosed cancer, and how effective is the modality in directing patients to the most appropriate treatment? This Thursday session will shed some light on these questions.