Research is the “eccentric uncle” of radiology. The specialty acknowledges “his” presence, brings “him” out at appropriate times to be viewed and admired, and, when the mood strikes, pays homage to “his” importance. However, the specialty has always treated research at arm's length, outside the greater, clinical concerns of organized radiology

The Value of Research to Radiology

Examples of the value of research to the specialty of radiology are not hard to find. The intimate synergistic relationship with technology is obvious. Isn't it equally apparent that research is the means by which radiologists maintain leadership of technical innovation and utilization?

From a more pedestrian perspective, research can be seen as a means to protect and expand “turf.” As an example, consider the fact that research by radiologists in minimally invasive therapies, and development of these techniques, has allowed radiologists to assume a dominant role in this area. However, many believe that this area of interventional radiology is currently at risk of being swallowed by the surgical specialties. Active research and continued leadership in innovation and technology improvement by members of our specialty will help radiology maintain a primary role and prevent the attrition of the many areas of radiology practice.

Finally, from a loftier perspective, research is essential for practicing good medicine. We all have anecdotes about how cautious we must be in drawing conclusions from limited and subjective experience. For example, because we have diagnosed a case of pericardial tamponade from CT findings does not mean that CT is the imaging modality of choice for this condition, or that all patients at risk for pericardial tamponade should undergo CT. Good medicine requires decision making based on evidence, and research is the method by which this evidence is acquired, synthesized, and put into action. Sometimes this pattern of research is codified into practice guidelines and disseminated for the benefit of other practitioners. Greater effort in conducting the research for developing practice guidelines in radiology is needed.

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