RSNA 2010, the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, was held from November 29 to December 3 in Chicago. The features below highlight just some of the studies that emerged from the meeting.

» Assessing Breast Cancer Screenings With MRI
» Delaying or Preventing Osteoarthritis in At-Risk Patients
» Can Walking Slow Cognitive Decline?

Assessing Breast Cancer Screenings With MRI

The Particulars: Guidelines currently recommend annual screening with breast MRI in women with a known gene mutation or a strong family history that indicates a lifetime risk of breast cancer greater than 20%. However, there is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against MRI screening in women who have already had breast cancer.

Data Breakdown: A retrospective review of initial screening breast MRI examinations of 1,026 women was conducted in a 5-year study. Of these 1,026 women, 327 had a genetic or family history of breast cancer, and 646 had a personal history of treated breast cancer. MRI testing identified 25 of 27 cancers in the group, amounting to a sensitivity rate of 92.6%. The cancer yield in women with a personal history of breast cancer (3.1%) was double that of women with a genetic or family history (1.5%).

Take Home Pearl: Women with a personal history of breast cancer should consider annual screening with MRI in addition to mammography. Additional studies are necessary to establish guidelines for screening these women.

Delaying or Preventing Osteoarthritis in At-Risk Patients [back to top]

The Particulars: Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis and affects an estimated 27 million Americans over the age of 25. Known risk factors for cartilage degeneration include excess weight, knee injuries, frequent knee bending, and severe or strenuous physical activity.

Data Breakdown: Researchers analyzed 132 asymptomatic patients at risk for knee osteoarthritis and separated them into three exercise levels (sedentary, light exercise, and moderate-to-strenuous exercise) and strength-training levels (none, minimal, and frequent). Light exercisers had the healthiest knee cartilage among all exercise levels. Patients with minimal strength training had healthier cartilage than patients with none or frequent strength training. Frequent knee-bending activities were associated with higher water content and cartilage abnormalities.

Take Home Pearl: Patients at risk for osteoarthritis may be able to prevent or delay disease onset with simple changes to their physical activity. Partaking in light exercise and refraining from frequent knee-bending activities may protect against osteoarthritis.

Can Walking Slow Cognitive Decline? [back to top]

The Particulars: Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Treatments are commonly geared toward alleviating disease progression or symptoms in people who are already cognitively impaired. About half of people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) progress to Alzheimer’s disease.

Data Breakdown:
 In an ongoing 20-year study, researchers analyzed the relationship between physical activity and brain structure in 299 healthy adults and 127 cognitively impaired adults, including 83 adults with MCI and 44 with Alzheimer’s dementia. Greater amounts of physical activity were associated with greater brain volume. Cognitively impaired people needed to walk at least 5 miles per week to maintain brain volume and slow cognitive decline. Healthy adults needed to walk at least 6 miles per week to maintain brain volume and reduce their risk for cognitive decline.

Take Home Pearl: Walking may slow cognitive decline in adults with MCI and Alzheimer’s disease and in healthy adults.