Cast Your Vote to Support Medical Research and Innovation

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 11, 2014

The Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) third annual Research Day is Thursday, November 20, 2014. A highlight of the BWH Research Day is the announcement of the winner in the BRIght Futures Prize competition.

Read More »

Getting the Whole Picture: 3-D Mammography Improves Breast Cancer Detection

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 28, 2013

3-D mammography, compared to traditional imaging, offers a clearer view of breast tissue.

Why are radiologists so enthusiastic about 3-D mammography (digital breast tomosynthesis), a new imaging technology for diagnosing breast cancer?

The simple answer is that it could help save thousands of lives each year.

3-D mammography, compared to traditional two-dimensional imaging, offers a clearer view of the dense tissue within a woman’s breast. Specifically, it enables radiologists to see tumors when they are very small and differentiate them from abnormalities that look like tumors but are usually benign, such as micro-calcifications (calcium deposits) or cysts. When radiologists are able to identify malignant tumors at this early stage, it usually means that the cancer has been found before it has spread to other parts of the body.

Read More »

A Simple Solution for Making Wise Imaging Decisions

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 15, 2012

A new computer tool helps physicians order the most appropriate imaging exams.

Imaging plays a critical role in helping physicians make accurate and timely diagnoses, and, increasingly, in improving the precision of surgical treatments. But when used inappropriately, some imaging studies can be harmful to a patient’s health and add unnecessary costs to the health care system.

X-rays, CT scans, PET scans, and nuclear medicine use radiation to produce images, and patients who undergo a large number of these tests may be at risk of unsafe radiation exposure. However, in many cases, tests that don’t require radiation to produce images, such as MRI or ultrasound, may be just as effective as tests that use radiation.

To help referring physicians order the most appropriate imaging test, the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Department of Radiology has developed a convenient, automated decision-support tool. When a referring doctor requests an imaging test through the BWH computerized order entry system, a built-in tool – called Decision Support – automatically compares the request to information in the patient’s medical record (such as prior imaging results) and to published high quality evidence or professional society imaging guidelines, and then displays advice for the doctor on the order entry screen. In some cases, doctors will cancel orders after seeing that prior imaging tests have already answered a key question. In other cases, the evidence or guidelines may suggest that the doctor order a different (more appropriate) test or that no imaging be performed. The automated advice may even suggest a follow-up consultation between the referring doctor and a radiologist.

Read More »

New Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines Expand Eligibility

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 17, 2012

The new guidelines expand lung cancer screening eligibility to 94 million Americans.

A lung cancer screening and surveillance task force led by a Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) physician team, and established by the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS), is strongly recommending new lung cancer screening guidelines that promote the expanded use of low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scans.

Based on recent research showing that low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening can help reduce lung cancer deaths, the task force is now recommending annual LDCT lung cancer screening for the following patients:

  • Smokers and former smokers between the ages of 55 and 79 who have smoked the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years.
  • Smokers and former smokers between the ages of 50 and 79 who have smoked the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years and have other factors that raise their risk of developing lung cancer.
  • Long-term lung cancer survivors up to the age of 79 (to detect a second case of primary lung cancer).

Read More »

Painting a Different Picture – Changing Perceptions of Mental Illness

Posted by Blog Administrator June 18, 2012

Emily Stern

Using new imaging techniques, Dr. Emily Stern is showing that mental disorders have a biological basis.

Sherbet orange and yellow, greens as bright as the fuzz on a tennis ball, blues reminiscent of a setting sky – all splattered across a soft gray maze. It’s not a Claude Monet painting. These colors exist on imaging scans produced by sophisticated machines in the Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory (FNL) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), directed by Dr. Emily Stern of the Department of Radiology. Stern and FNL researchers are studying images of the human brain to uncover the mysteries of depression, schizophrenia, and other mental disorders.

With advanced tools that may change the medical landscape of psychiatry, one of the most poignant ambitions that the researchers have is to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness.

“Seeing a picture of brain areas lighting up abnormally on an MRI conveys that there is a biological problem with the brain in people with mental disorders,” says Dr. Stern. “We hope that when people hear that mental disorders have a biological basis, they will think of these disorders differently, and not as something that a person can just snap out of. These are true disorders of the brain, just like there are disorders of the heart, kidney, or lung. And we are just starting to understand the neurobiology behind this.”

Read More »

This Endoscopy Comes with a Tour Guide

Posted by Blog Administrator June 6, 2012

endoscopy capsule camera

The controllable endoscopic capsule is the size of a pill.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have led the development of a tiny endoscopic capsule that is reminiscent of science fiction, yet very close to being a practical and invaluable medical tool. Propelled by tails made of copper coils and a flexible polymer, the wireless device is designed to be driven remotely and precisely while travelling through and photographing the inside of the human body. Aside from the fascination that such innovative technology attracts, the real-world implications are substantial for both the accuracy of gastrointestinal diagnoses and patient comfort.

This unique wireless capsule, equipped with a camera, is designed to be swallowed like a pill. Once the capsule enters the patient’s digestive tract, a doctor can then steer the capsule through the body by harnessing the magnetic field of an MRI machine. This control is what sets this new technology apart from traditional endoscopic capsule technology.

Read More »

Risk Versus Benefit: Lung Cancer Screening

Posted by Blog Administrator April 30, 2012

lung cancer screening xray

A new CT screening test captures many views of the lungs, providing more detail than traditional x-ray lung cancer screening.

Any type of medical intervention – surgery, medications, even x-rays – involves some degree of risk. So the doctor or caregiver must always assess: Does the risk outweigh the benefit?

Lung cancer screening is a case in point. A new CT screening test captures many views of the lungs, providing more detail than traditional x-ray screening. This makes identification of early-stage lung cancer nodules more likely – and the earlier lung cancer is diagnosed, the greater the chance of survival.

But here’s the catch: CT scans emit small amounts of radiation, and accumulated radiation exposure increases risk for cancer. This puts Dr. Francine Jacobson and other radiologists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in an awkward situation. “I have to balance the risk for patients,” notes Dr. Jacobson, “between their exposure to ionizing radiation versus the benefits of the CT scan.”

Read More »