Feature | December 17, 2007

Women’s Imaging Conference Plans Hands-on Expansion

Speaking Out with Edward M. Smith, Sc.D., University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Department of Imaging Sciences

What did you learn from the inaugural “Women’s Health and Imaging in a Digital Environment” meeting in late January 2007 that encouraged you to expand the content of the second annual conference, but with a simpler title – “Women’s Imaging 2008?”
Healthcare professionals in the women’s imaging specialty are just becoming involved in digital imaging even though the first full-field digital mammography system was first introduced in 2002. In 2007 our presentations were too technical. At Women’s Imaging 2008 we will present the fundamentals of making the transition to a digital environment in a more clinically relevant manner, including the technology, but also emphasizing the advantages and potential problems in making this transition.
We learned the broader topics outside of breast disease were very beneficial and informative to many of our attendees. During the first two days of Women’s Imaging 2008, we will expand this coverage to include not only the fundamentals of breast imaging, but cardiovascular and thyroid disease, osteoporosis, pelvic pain, gynecological oncology plus the management and treatment of breast and pelvic disease.
In the evaluations from our first meeting, attendees informed us that workshops were a crucial part of the conference. At Women’s Imaging 2008, the ultrasound- and MRI-guided breast biopsy sessions have been expanded to three sessions each and we have added a multi-modality breast imaging workshop that will feature five or more vendors’ systems. This workshop provides uninterrupted time for attendees to work with the workstation and allows them to compare one vendor’s offering to another.
Attendees and vendors alike complained of the crowded and spread-out environment at Women’s Health & Imaging 2007. The Women’s Imaging Conference will be held at The Westin La Cantera in San Antonio. This five-star resort complex provides the conference with the capability of having all educational, technical exhibits, workshops and food functions in the spacious grand ballroom.
Some of the more controversial issues about women’s imaging – the digital mammography surge, the emergence of breast MR and the reliability of computer-aided detection – seem like fertile enough topics to populate a conference. So what’s the motivation behind exploring pelvic pain, gynecologic oncology, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis and thyroid disease at a meeting billed under “women’s imaging?”
Yes, that’s true, digital mammography, breast MRI and CAD are hot topics, but women’s imaging is about more than just breast disease. Yes, we will cover these topics in great depth and, yes, both physicians and technologists can obtain enough educational credits to satisfy the requirement to perform and interpret both digital mammography and breast MRI as well as fulfill the 15 credits per triennium MQSA requirement for general mammography. However, these other organ systems involve imaging and the physicians must manage or at least be aware of the total body. So by providing coverage for these other topics in a meeting focused on the breast, we provide the healthcare professionals the opportunity to learn what’s new and available outside their primary area of focus.
What do you hope attendees gain through the three workshops on ultrasound-guided breast biopsy, MR-guided breast biopsy and multi-modality breast imaging?
[We want to] provide the attendees with hands-on experience with the latest tools to perform both ultrasound- and MRI-guided breast biopsy. Each session will be facilitated by our nationally recognized faculty and supported by applications specialists from participating vendors who will be available to demonstrate the use of their products and answer questions.
The majority of attendees have had little experience working with multiple vendors’ workstations. At the majority of meetings the objective is to sell the virtues of the vendor’s product in a superficial hands-on experience with the attendee. Attendees at Women’s Imaging 2008 will have up to 30 minutes to evaluate and question the applications specialist on the pros and cons of their system while viewing digital mammography, breast MRI, CAD, ultrasound, nuclear medicine studies and PET/CT studies on a single workstation.
The fact that your conference made it to its second year – and you’ve already scheduled a third year – indicates a market interest in and need for a meeting dedicated to women’s health and imaging topics. Why do you think there’s interest in and a need for such a topical carve-out that the larger imaging and oncology meetings couldn’t tackle?
It’s not that the larger meetings couldn’t provide the same content. The fact is they don’t. Typically these conferences are tightly focused on subject matter that is relevant to their organization. Since Women’s Imaging 2008 is a university-sponsored conference with a purely educational objective, we can design the content to meet our educational objectives and provide a broad overview of topics related to women’s health that can be diagnosed and treated with image-oriented procedures with special emphasis on diseases of the breast.
This conference is designed for 200-400 attendees that will allow significant interaction between attendees, faculty and exhibitors. A boutique conference is better suited for one-on-one interaction and also provides a better opportunity for attendees to actually work with the hardware and software applications provided in the technical exhibition.

For more information: www.urmc.edu/wi2008