This specialisation focuses on two important trends in health care: early diagnosis and developing the most targeted patient-specific treatment possible with the shortest possible recovery time and minimal side effects. As a result of developments in imaging, diagnoses can be made more accurately and earlier in the disease process. In addition, affected tissue can be treated locally thanks to non-invasive or minimally invasive techniques supported by imaging. Patients thus treated run less of a risk of complications and recover more quickly. This specialism combines the techniques and applications of imaging and interventions. The domain extends from molecular imaging techniques to tumour-specific planning of radiation therapy, and from advanced preoperative planning techniques to image-guided interventions.
There have been enormous technological advances in imaging in the past decades. In addition to anatomical details, we can now visualise functional processes as well. Moreover, increasingly modalities (CT, MRI, SPECT, PET, ultrasound, fluorescence imaging, microscopy and endoscopy) are being combined since they provide additional information.
With respect to interventions, there has been a move towards minimally invasive procedures, in which small incisions with long, thin instruments, catheters and needles are used to treat pathological tissue locally with light or sound waves, heating or cooling, chemical cocktails, radioactive particles or radiation. Imaging is indispensable for the planning, the exact localisation, the navigation and the monitoring of the intervention, and the evaluation of the result. Images are being used to make treatments patient-specific. CTs are used to construct patient-specific implants, for example, to generate moulds for operations and to calculate the optimal dosage, while fluorescence techniques are used during operations to get a clear visualisation of the tumour.
The clinical technician is ideally suited to facilitate the translation of new techniques or combinations of techniques into clinical practice. Examples include the combination of brachytherapy and hyperthermia, image-guided dose calculation during radiotherapy, deep learning techniques for diagnosis and the use of 3D modelling in reconstructive surgery.