editor.jpg (9946 bytes)Read this issue — our largest ever at 188 pages — and you’ll notice a trend, namely the merging of modalities within imaging, and the merging of imaging and information. That’s why we dubbed this issue “The Technology Melting Pot.”

Imaging technologies have traditionally stood independent, like a row of ingots at the foundry – immutable metals of nuclear medicine, radiography and magnetic resonance. Now these boundaries are melting in the crucible of fusion imaging. Also called fused image tomography, fusion imaging combines the talents of MR, CT, PET and SPECT to produce exciting new anatomical and functional images. (See “Image Fusion Could Power Nuclear Medicine, Other Modalities to Future Growth,” Page 76.) Increasingly powerful workstations make this technology feasible today, allowing software to employ sophisticated algorithms for registering and combining CT, MRI, SPECT and PET data sets.

Walk the RSNA show floor (or flip through our RSNA Preview beginning on Page 44) and you will see new hybrid systems that combine PET and CT or SPECT and CT – some to provide powerful oncology imaging, others that raise the bar for general imaging. Across the show floor are examples of software being used in clinical applications, software that in some cases, surmounts the underlying hardware in much the same way the mathematically derived CT or MR image transcends the raw material collected by a scanner’s detectors. Best of all, the shift to software means imaging departments can hold onto equipment longer and skirt technology obsolescence.

Barriers between imaging studies and patient records are melting, too. New Web-based PACS combine the widespread accessibility of the Internet with surprising affordability. Interoperability and integration are hot topics for administrators and physicians, and the current buzz-word for off-site data management companies, application service provider (ASP) will be on the lips of every PACS salesperson in the Windy City. (See “ASP Trend Looks to Continue at RSNA 2000,” Page 66.)

The seaward rush to IT hasn’t passed traditional big iron vendors. Expect announcements at RSNA as the major manufacturers create IT products through a combination of acquisitions and strategic alliances.

Imaging technology is fusing, image management is automating and the way healthcare facilities acquire goods and services is evolving too. In “There’s No Business Like e-Business” on Page 146, we examine how e-business and e-commerce methods are trickling into the process of radiology planning and purchasing. Imaging vendors may never rival the online retailing of an Amazon.com, but they are strengthening their use of the World Wide Web to disseminate the prepurchase information needed by busy, comparison-shopping physicians and administrators. Look for more content, online calculators and quicker response to your inquiries. We can expect a revival of dial-up shopping for consumables, this time through the Internet, and there are even a few vendors offering products exclusively for sale online.

Whew! A lot is happening, and there’s a lot for you in this issue of Medical Imaging, so warm up your coffee, adjust your desk lamp, and we’ll get started. Hope you enjoy it!

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Mary C. Tierney, Editor
[email protected]