Radiology, though, is the future of medicine. The ability to ‘see inside the body’ using a variety of techniques is a privilege and highly sought-after skill. Improved CT and MRI scanners have already drastically increased the sensitivity and specificity of diagnostic scans and interventional radiology provides a variety of minimally invasive solutions. As we gain more knowledge about various disease processes, there will be a greater role for radiology in the prevention of disease.
Perhaps one day we will have a subspecialty of ‘preventative radiology’ that combines genomics and metabolism with imaging. The interaction of genotype and the environment results in observable characteristics, including what we can see with imaging. In the future we may keep ‘baseline’ whole body scans as part of each patient’s medical profile in order to provide individualized care. Baseline imaging can provide a valuable insight to the current state of our bodies, while whole genome sequencing may identify genes that are risk factors for various diseases.
This is not currently recommended due to the lack of a favorable cost-risk-benefit ratio, but further advances in knowledge and technology are rapidly coming down the path. The combination of genomics, whole body scans and functional testing may help further translate personal health data into estimated risk and, ultimately, improved healthcare. The possibilities are endless and the number of potential lives saved infinite.