New procedural techniques, robotics, augmented reality and virtual reality hold a bright future for interventional radiology in the years to come.
Interventional Radiology (IR) is a medical speciality that executes various minimally-invasive procedures through ultrasound. Advances in this medical facility are aimed toward better patient outcomes, enhanced precision and accuracy, causing minimum trauma to patients undergoing minimally invasive surgery. Dr Meinal Chaudhry, Director, Radiodiagnosis and Intervention Radiology at Aakash Healthcare, shares that recent years have seen exponential growth in interventional radiology, which will only improve with the development of digital technologies combined with the creativity of practitioners.
In Augmented Reality
Authentic images are presented alongside virtual photos, offering the ability to manoeuvre objects and interact with the real world. This robust development provides a host of applications for image-guided interventions. For example, vital signs can be visualized within the same field of vision for an interventional radiologist during a critical intervention. Further, these numbers could appear when the radiologist has concerns or when performing a vital step of a procedure that requires them. Another augmented reality procedure is visualising anatomy underneath procedural drapes to guide an intervention when fluoroscopic guidance is insufficient or there is poor sonographic penetration.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Developments
Recent developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) present revolutionary opportunities for growth in interventional radiology. Utilizing AI can enhance the accuracy and predictability of interventions, improving patient outcomes. Machine learning algorithms will further augment the interventional radiologist in selecting patient populations and guiding treatment decisions for their utmost benefit, especially in areas such as interventional oncology, where multimodal therapies abound. Also, promising applications exist in the treatment of time-sensitive interventions, including strokes and pulmonary embolisms, that have been shown to benefit from AI’s impact on expediting recognition and throughput to improve patient outcomes.
Current image-guidance modalities are being enhanced, and the new ones will likely augment future practice. Fiber Optic RealShape (FORS) is a new imaging guidance modality currently being pioneered that utilizes catheters embedded with light sensing technology. FORS and other evolving modalities could significantly improve vascular imaging guidance, decrease procedural time, and increase patient and practitioner safety.
Another area having significant potential in image-guided interventions is robotics, which has already seen inroads into many fields of medicine. For example, it would allow interventionists to work safely in a separate room, shielding them from exposure to heavy doses of radiation and saving them from musculoskeletal injury from heavy protective aprons.
The scope of interventional radiology practice and advancements in existing procedures and techniques are expanding. As a result, the future of interventional radiology is bright as the value proposition of offering high-quality, low-complication, minimally invasive and cost-effective therapies align exceptionally well with the end of medicine and healthcare.
Technological advancements will also improve efficacy, safety and efficiency for interventional radiology and image-guided interventions. Alongside exponential technological growth, the degree of innovation and changing practice patterns will continue to change. As a result, interventional radiologists will get ample opportunity to adapt and invent for a brighter future for patients.
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