What you missed on the first day of NC Today 2017

The American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC) kicked off a three-day conference in Rosemont, Illinois, April 21, an event that attracts cardiologists from all over the country.

The Bethesda, Maryland-based society, which has more than 4,500 members worldwide, provides medical education programs related to cardiovascular imaging that promotes accreditation and certification in nuclear cardiology.

“I think we’re going to have a great time this year,” said David Wolinsky, MD, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Weston, Florida, practice. “We have a small room with a small faculty. Each lecture is meant to be case-based and interactive.”

This year, the society switched things up by incorporating a kick-off lecture about researchers who discovered that heart disease has “existed since the beginning of time.” In their study, they examined ancient mummies from Egypt and Peru using CT scans and realized that even they suffered from atherosclerosis.

Randall Thompson, MD, a cardiologist at St. Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City and a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, presented the research at the conference and said his team was surprised to find that these pre-modern day people suffered from heart disease even though they were much more active than the modern human.

One of the most helpful sessions for cardiologists working with cardio imaging was one on how to best use and extract information from single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) software programs, which was presented by Robert Pagnanelli, the chief technologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.

Unlike standard programs, SPECT softwares provide more accurate and detailed images of the heart and arteries. Pagnanelli explained the pros and cons of several SPECT programs, some of which show detailed black-out maps and specific heart defects. However, he emphasized the software cannot completely replace visual interpretation.

“There are multiple programs that exist for myocardial perfusion,” Pagnanelli said. “There are differences, though, and again, it’s not that one is better than the other. But we need to understand the capabilities and limitations each one has.”

The rest of the weekend will feature sessions on how PET imaging and other modalities can help treat heart failure and myocardial disease. Additionally, there will be healthcare policy panels about the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA)’s implications on nuclear imaging, presented by Wolinsky and Dennis Calnon, MD, a cardiologist at OhioHealth in Columbus.