At Stanford's Department
of Radiology, where clinical diagnosis and treatment reflect the
latest research data, physicians are using the most advanced methods
of imaging to push breakthroughs in several areas, working in
collaboration with engineers and physicists. Once X-rays were the best
medicine could offer. Now, physicians use ultrasound, computed
tomography, magnetic resonance, optical bioluminescence and
fluorescence to bear down on body tissue even to its molecules.
Recently, Stanford radiologist Sanjiv Sam
Gambhir, MD, PhD, pioneered the use of another form of molecular
imaging, one to track, even more accurately, the biochemical changes
that mark cancer before its structural changes are visible.
These advances have affected every aspect of medicine, saving many,
many lives. Patients can be diagnosed earlier, vastly improving the
chance of recovery. Physicians can plan more accurate treatment,
without the kind of exploratory surgery that was once the only way to
see what was going on. They can work inside the body in ways
previously not dreamed possible.
At Stanford, Walker's physicians quickly scanned her brain to find
the clot. Within a couple of minutes, 500 to 1,000 images in that scan
were fed through Stanford's specially-developed software to create
special images that showed how much blood was flowing through the
arteries to her brain and how long it took to get there. That
information answered the most important questions about Walker's
condition. How much of her brain had the stroke already damaged−and
how much might soon be? Could rapid treatment give Walker a good
chance for a nearly complete recovery? And could it be done safely?
Seeing Every Step
The ability of physicians to see inside the body, with the kind of
detail imaging technology now supplies, has allowed a whole new set of
non-surgical, minimally-invasive treatments and an expanded role for
radiologists. Among Walker's team of physicians were neurologists,
diagnostic radiologists, and an interventional radiologist, Michael Marks,
MD, who took the next clinical step in treating Walker.
Interventional radiologists, like Marks, enter the body guided by
imaging technology, using small tubing called catheters, not scalpels,
eliminating traditional surgery's risks from large incisions.