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    • Research Medical Student Grantee is Improving Women’s Imaging Tools


    •  Vignesh Arasu, M.D. 

      Vignesh Arasu, M.D., was only a medical student when he decided to tackle a major issue in breast imaging: improving the specificity of breast MRI. To test-drive a career path as a clinician/researcher, Dr. Arasu took leave from med school and immersed himself in radiology through a yearlong program at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).

      “Improving the diagnostic accuracy of breast MRI would have a huge impact on high-risk breast cancer screenings,” said Dr. Arasu, now a radiology resident at UCSF, who was drawn to women’s health both for its multidisciplinary approach and the opportunity to help the field progress.

      Under the guidance of mentor Bonnie M. Joe, M.D., Ph.D., chief of women’s imaging in the department of radiology, Dr. Arasu investigated the use of a UCSF-developed software tool for MRI called Signal Enhancement Ratio (SER), a high-resolution method that captures information on contrast uptake over time.

      Dr. Arasu retrospectively applied the SER tool to 73 MRI-identified lesions recommended for biopsy. Of the 73 lesions, 55 were determined to be benign for a false-positive rate of 75 percent. After applying the SER tool to the MRI data, Dr. Arasu found that the number of unnecessary biopsies could have been reduced from 55 to 22, cutting the false-positive rate by more than half to 30 percent. The results were published in Academic Radiology (Acad Radiol. 2011 Jun;18(6):716-21; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21420333).

      With the help of a 2010 Canon U.S.A./RSNA Research Medical Student Grant, Dr. Arasu was able to expand on his initial publication, measuring the robustness of the tool over a variety of thresholds. He found the SER tool could replicate his original findings over a broad range of thresholds, resulting in a poster presentation at RSNA 2011.

      “Canon U.S.A. is pleased to support the research and education of Radiology. The RSNA R&E Foundation and Dr. Arasu’s dedication to healthcare are the reasons we continue to commit to growing the future of Radiology. We are truly excited to be making history together as we see the transformation of technology for better future patient care,” said Anne Ji, Supervisor, Marketing, Healthcare Solutions Division, Canon U.S.A., Inc.

      “To receive a grant from the biggest organization in radiology was just thrilling,” said Dr. Arasu. “In my case, small seeds really do grow into bigger things, as I was able to get great feedback from senior investigators, develop a manuscript, and now, begin looking at the next set of questions with the ultimate goal of impacting patient care with a better imaging tool.”

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