Histories of RSNA and Radiology "Intertwined"

By Paul LaTour

N. Reed Dunnick, M.D., said it was a distinct honor to formally open the 100th annual meeting of RSNA and kick off the Centennial celebration with his President's Address on Sunday.

"One of the fun parts of preparing for this speech was reading speeches by former RSNA presidents and looking at material from the RSNA archives," Dr. Dunnick said. "From the very beginning, the histories of the RSNA and radiology have been intertwined."

During his speech, Dr. Dunnick quoted addresses from RSNA past-presidents Hedvig Hricak, M.D., Ph.D., Dr. h.c. (2010), C. Douglas Maynard, M.D. (2000), Michael A. Sullivan, M.D. (1997), Eugene P. Pendergrass, M.D. (1954) and Howard P. Doub, M.D. (1938).

Dr. Dunnick noted that changing the organization's name in 1919 to RSNA, from its original name of the Western Roentgen Society, was prompted in part by growth in membership that came to include members from Canada. Today, he said, RSNA has more than 54,000 members from 140 countries, making it a truly international organization.

While devoting the majority of his address to radiology's future, Dr. Dunnick also examined the history of the specialty, which he called one of the most impactful disciplines in medicine. "From the stunning discovery that radiation could be used to actually treat disease to the remarkable development of imaging modalities such as CT, ultrasound and MR, our profession has changed medicine," he said.

Among the pioneering innovations during radiology's evolution, Dr. Dunnick said, were improvements in radiography and fluoroscopy that enabled radiologists to image patients with less radiation. Then there were the contrast media that allowed radiologists to image not only vessels, but also organs such as the kidneys, ureters and bladder—air, carbon dioxide and water were recognized as useful contrast agents.

So very much has changed since the first RSNA annual meeting, held in Chicago in 1915, Dr. Dunnick said. "Our medical grandfathers and great-grandfathers scribbled their research notes with pencils in leather-bound notebooks—and some were still traveling by horse and carriage when the RSNA was founded," he said. "Today, we use tablets and laptops and can instantly share our ideas electronically with colleagues all over the globe. It's a radically different world."

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