login | home

REMINDERS: 2003 Annual Meeting Home
  • No Icebreaker - Plan to join your colleagues during the 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM beer and refreshment break in the exhibit hall.
  • Residents now qualify for Student registration fees. See details under Student Registration.
  • Single LCD projection will be the ONLY presentation method available for oral presentations.
  • Remember.... sessions & exhibits all now begin on Sunday.

General Press Release


For more information please contact
Phillip Schewe, 301-209-3092, pschewe@aip.org,
Martha Heil, 301-209-3088, mheil@aip.org,
Ben Stein, 301-209-3091, bstein@aip.org,
or James Riordon, 301-209-3084, jriordon@aip.org,
at the American Institute of Physics


College Park, MD, 14 July 2003 -- The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) will hold its 45th annual meeting on August 10-14 at the San Diego Convention Center. Almost 1000 abstracts will be presented on a variety of subjects at the intersection of physics and medicine. Many of these topics deal with the development of state-of-the-art imaging and therapeutic devices, and the methodologies that go along with them.

The AAPM meeting webpage (http://www.aapm.org/meetings/03AM/) contains links to the full program. In early August, the site will link to a Virtual Pressroom with additional information.

Physics and medicine are close allies. Ever since the discovery of X-rays and their potential for medical imaging, physicists have been vital to the advancement of medicine. Fundamental research in optics, acoustics, electromagnetism, and particle and nuclear physics has led to an array of indispensable medical tools. Magnetic resonance images (using microwaves), CAT scans (using X-rays), PET scans (using gamma rays), ultrasound scans (using sound waves) and various types of radiotherapy are among the physics-based devices that help doctors diagnose and treat ailments ranging from broken bones to cancer.

The AAPM includes more than 4800 members dedicated to advancing medical technology. Medical physicists contribute to the effectiveness of radiological imaging procedures by developing new imaging procedures, improving existing techniques, and assuring radiation safety of imaging procedures. Physicists working in medical imaging inspect and model equipment to ensure that images are acquired at the highest possible quality for effective diagnosis of possible abnormalities. Medical physicists working in radiation therapy commission and develop new therapeutic techniques; collaborate with radiation oncologists to design improved treatment plans; and calibrate and model therapeutic equipment to ensure that every patient receives precisely the prescribed dose of radiation at the correct location.

The following is a sampling of some of the intriguing talks that medical physicists will present at the meeting.

Screening for and treating breast cancer is a major concern in medicine. Screening involves diagnostic tests applied to those who are not known to have cancer, and breast cancer screening is typically performed with mammography, a relatively quick process in which two x-ray views of the breasts are recorded on film. Only about three out of 1,000 mammograms locates breast cancer. Patients suspected of having cancer based upon screening mammography are usually then studied with other methodologies, such as MRI or ultrasound, which provide different types of images that can supplement the diagnosis. Now, John Boone at the University of California, Davis, is building a CT (X-ray computed tomography) machine specifically for breast cancer screening purposes. Dr. Boone hopes that the more detailed information provided by the breast CT scan will result in earlier detection of breast cancer, which means saving lives. Boone (john.boone@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu) expects that the X-ray dose for his CT process should not exceed the dose used in routine mammography. He expects the breast CT scanner to undergo phase-2 clinical trials sometime next year. To repeat: this device would be for cancer screening, not for cancer therapy. (Paper Tu-C24A-1, Tuesday, 10 AM)

With their unique knowledge of radiation, medical physicists are playing an important role in preparing for the threat of a terrorism-related radiological attack. A session titled "Terrorism and the Medical Physicist" will feature three speakers representing academia, the clinical community, and government. The first speaker, John Poston of Texas A&M, College Station, TX, chaired the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements committee that wrote a report called "Management of Terrorist Events Involving Radioactive Material." He will focus on several findings of the report, such as the problem of the "worried well" -- panicked members of the general public. In such a radiological emergency, experts estimate that the worried well may outnumber those truly needing medical attention by as much as 1000 to one. The second speaker, Richard Morin of the Mayo Clinic, served on the American College of Radiology committee that wrote a primer titled "Disaster Preparedness for Radiology Professionals: Response to Radiological Terrorism," which, for example, urges hospitals to understand how to set up an area for treating radiation-incident victims in their emergency rooms. The final speaker, Orhan Suleiman of the Food and Drug Administration, has been involved with federal counter-terrorism initiatives. He will focus on medical countermeasures for radiological hazards, including newly emerging areas of research, National Institute of Health funding, and novel strategies to get medical products rapidly developed and approved for use by the FDA. (MO-E20A-1, Monday, 4:00; for more information on the session contact Orhan Suleiman at SuleimanO@cder.fda.gov)

Digital 3-D images for diagnostic mammograms work better than the traditional film images, reports Mari Lehtimaki (mari.lehtimaki@fi.instrumentarium.com) and her colleagues in a study from the Instrumentarium Corporation Imaging Division, in Tuusula, Finland and Helsinki University Central Hospital Mammography Department, in Helsinki, Finland. The researchers re-examined breast tissue of 60 patients showing no external signs of cancer but whose traditional diagnostic work-ups showed potential problem spots. Intrumentarium's Tuned Aperture Computed Tomography device was used to image the suspect breast tissue from seven angles, all rotated from a main reference point, where digital spot imaging is also done. The images are then combined to form a 3-D image. The ability to look at various slices of tissue makes it possible for doctors to spot tiny changes in breast tissue that might go undetected in a film mammogram and to distinguish whether the suspect tissue is benign or cancerous. The researchers also envision that this technique could pinpoint more precisely where a biopsy should be performed. The team of medical physicists plans to run studies of this technology in the US, and to measure TACT's performance against ultrasound's. (Paper TH-C24A-6, Thursday 11:15 AM)

Arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a congenital disorder affecting an estimated one in every 1,000 people. It involves a tangled web of blood vessels, typically in the brain or spinal cord. Abnormally high blood flow can occur in AVMs, causing seizures, paralysis, and other problems. Improving prospects for successfully treating AVMs, the researchers of the medical physics department in San Bortolo Hospital, Vicenza, Italy, led by Dr. Paolo Francescon, have adapted a new imaging technology, called 3-D rotational angiography (3DRA), so that the data could be used to plan AVM treatments with the Cyberknife, a novel device produced by a Stanford, California company called Accuray. Firing X-rays from numerous angles to reach a precisely defined 3D region where an AVM resides, the Cyberknife destroys the AVM while avoiding healthy tissue surrounding it. 3DRA provides a more accurate, three-dimensional picture of the AVM than previously possible. In the method, a patient is injected with a substance (called contrast enhancement medium) into the affected area to produce 3-D pictures of the AVM. These high-quality pictures then allow Cyberknife to target the AVM more completely and precisely than before. To date, the researchers have successfully treated 20 patients by combining 3DRA with Cyberknife (Paper MO-D20A-1, Monday, 1:30 PM; reporters seeking more information should contact fisica@fisica-vicenza.it).

Computed tomography (CT) on a pregnant woman's chest puts the fetus at risk due to the adverse effects of radiation. However, researchers from the University of Chicago propose that it may be possible to protect the fetus if the mother ingests barium sulfate before CT radiation exposure. Because the fetal dose during chest scans is mainly due to internal scatter of incident radiation, the barium compound acts as an internal shield that absorbs errant radiation. A study that simulated a CT scan of a pregnant woman showed that ingesting a 40 percent solution of barium sulfate would decrease the fetal dose to a negligible level, so that even high-quality CT imaging could be performed with minimal risk. Chester Reft will present data from the study and discuss the potential for barium sulfate internal shields at 11:00 AM on Wednesday. (Paper WE-C23A-4)

Millions of women are screened for breast cancer each year using X-ray techniques, but the radiation dose needed for detailed investigation of early stages of breast cancer is also a level that can cause cancer to develop. A new X-ray detector, developed by medical physicist Dr. Polad Shikhaliev at the Department of Radiological Sciences, University of California, Irvine, and his colleagues, lowers the radiation dose enough to prevent the test from hastening the disease. The device turns microchannel plate detectors on their sides in order to trap more photons coming in, making the X-ray more efficient and using less radiation. A microchannnel plate detector contains an array of tiny holes that organize X-rays into a coherent image and includes fewer shadows on its high-resolution images. (Paper TH-C24A-3; Thursday, 10:30 AM)

Correctly positioning a patient is an important part of radiotherapy with externally incident radiation beams. Accuracy and flexibility are important considerations. Currently, commercial positioners are mostly attached to the ground and provide only one or two rotations around a vertical axis and three mutually perpendicular translational motions. The accuracy is about 1-2 millimeters. Now, medical physicists at the Loma Linda University Medical Center in California have developed a positioner with full translational and rotational freedom under computer control. The accuracy of positioning is 0.1 millimeters and past positioning can be retrieved to hasten subsequent patient setup. According to Michael Moyers (moyers@proton.llumc.edu , 909-558-0552), the new patient positioner should cost only marginally more than conventional positioners, cost much less than other high-precision positioners, and should be able to reduce treatment time along with better alignment of radiation treatment beams. (Paper Tu-D20D-7, Tuesday, 1:30 PM)

The functions of the human body such as movement, thought and vision involve different parts of the brain in the outer layer called the cortex, where electrical signals are generated. These signals travel across to the inner part of the brain, known as the white matter, and onto other parts of the body. The white matter consists of many pathways and can be thought of as a complicated network of electrical cables, just like those you might find in your home. A break in one of the cables might result in the lights to one part of your house not working, while the others continue to work normally. The brain works in a similar way; damage to the white-matter pathway that connects the motor cortex to the rest of the body will result in a loss of movement, whereas damage to a different pathway will result in a different problem. Until now it has been very difficult to obtain pictures of these white-matter pathways. However, a new magnetic resonance imaging technique called diffusion tensor tractography allows medical physicists to obtain for the first time images of these pathways by studying the way in which water moves in the brain. The white-matter pathways of the brain can be highlighted because water can move more freely along them. Neuroscientists and neurologists are concerned with how the brain works and how its functions are affected by disease. By producing detailed pictures of the white matter pathways in the brain we now have the opportunity to examine more closely how damage to different parts of the white matter can lead to a loss of function and disability. The development of an atlas of the brain showing the white matter connections in any individual will help neurologists to better understand diseases such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, Alzheimer's disease and other diseases of the brain. Chris Clark (cclark@sghms.ac.uk) of St. George's Hospital Medical School in London will describe progress toward a white-matter atlas on Wednesday at 2:00 PM (Paper WE-D23A-3, Wednesday, 1:30 PM).

Each year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration conducts a study, called NEXT, that explores trends in technology and clinical methods, including X-ray doses administered to patients. Past NEXT surveys have concentrated on the adult chest, abdomen, upper gastrointestinal fluorosocopy, CT for the head, and dental radiography. The 2002 NEXT survey was devoted to the abdomen and lumbosacral spine, and preliminary results will be summarized by Albert E. Moyal of the FDA (aem@cdrh.fda.gov). Compared to the last abdomen/spine NEXT survey, conducted in 1995, the 2002 report will feature a reduction in exposure values, an increase in film optical densities, and an improvement in film processing. (Paper Tu-C25A-1, Tuesday, 10 AM)

The AAPM meeting webpage (http://www.aapm.org/meetings/03AM/) contains links to the full program and hotel information for the meeting. With proper credentials, journalists covering the meeting for specific publications can receive complimentary registration to all the sessions and exhibits. While the meeting will not have a newsroom, AIP and AAPM staff will be on hand to facilitate any of your needs, including contacting researchers, during the meeting.

In early August, the site will link to a Virtual Pressroom with additional information on selected papers. In case you cannot make it to San Diego for the meeting, the email contacts at the top of this release can help you cover the conference from your desk.

AAPM Meeting 2003

Please return this form to Phil Schewe at pschewe@aip.org or by fax to 301-209-0846

___I shall attend the meeting.

___I may attend the meeting; please send additional information as it becomes available.

___I cannot attend but please send additional information on the meeting as it becomes available.







2003 Annual Meeting Home

* San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau Logo

Shamu at Seaworld San Diego
© San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau
and Seaworld San Diego