By Matthew A. Crain, MD
As a first-year diagnostic radiology resident at the Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University, I am in an interesting position to reflect on how I chose this fascinating specialty as well as envision the field’s amazing future. The moment I was able to “see” in x-ray images the spiral fracture of my tibia that had produced such excruciating pain when I fell while skiing as a 6-year-old, I became captivated by the remarkable power of radiology in medicine. Over the years, I had the wonderful opportunity to join my uncle, Michael Crain, MD, in reading rooms, as he shared the radiologist’s unique perspective in assessing and diagnosing a wide variety of patients and medical conditions.
Early in my undergraduate studies at Duke, I began a three-year collaboration on a research project that used fMRI analyses to identify neural dysregulation patterns in the brains of patients with major depressive disorder. I was fascinated by our discovery that we could “see” the impaired “top-down” regulation and the domination of emotional reactivity and rumination in depressed patients. More recent fMRI studies have shown promising paths toward imaging methods to literally “read” people’s minds. Can you imagine the potential impact on treatment of a wide variety of medical conditions?
As I sit in our reading rooms, I realize how much I have to learn about analyzing imaging studies, from x-rays and ultrasounds to CT and MRI scans, and while I am slowly expanding my human competencies, I understand that AI systems, programmed to analyze the enormous data underlying the visible images and associating them with medical conditions across thousands, if not millions of patients, are tirelessly and continually developing exponentially more accurate algorithms.
The knowledge and skills I am learning are already providing me with critical insights into patients’ medical conditions that have a pivotal impact on diagnoses and interventions. Yet, it is impossible to imagine the impact of partnering with AI over the years ahead. We are both in our infancy, each building competencies in our own ways. As we increasingly work together, our ability to rapidly determine the underlying medical conditions of patients, assess prognosis, and develop individualized interventions, will dramatically transform modern medicine.
Similarly, radiologically guided procedures, already the cutting-edge of minimally invasive surgery, will become increasingly targeted and robotically controlled by interventional radiologists partnered with exponentially more sophisticated algorithms. What is there not to love about this field now – and over the decades of practice to come for me! I can’t wait to “grow up.”
Dr. Crain was born and raised in State College, Pennsylvania and went to Duke University for his undergraduate education. He then obtained his MD at West Virginia University School of Medicine and completed an internship at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital before joining Ohio State radiology this past July. In his free time, he enjoys exercising, watching sports, playing violin and tennis, and going on ski trips. He can be found on Twitter @mattyradsmd and Instagram @mattyradsmd.