Date: July 1, 2009
If you asked any of the hundreds of clinicians and researchers who’ve participated in the Johns Hopkins CTA Practicum what was most memorable, you’d likely get a common response: intense and impassioned.
It’s hardly the testimonial you’d expect from a rigorous course teaching the interpretation of cardiac CT angiography results, but its co-directors, cardiologists Edward Shapiro and David Bush, aren’t interested in spewing dry data and performing lackluster lectures.
Rather the duo has designed and created an interactive experience that’s been attracting a broad mix of cardiologists, radiologists, researchers and academic fellows from across the country and around the world.
“I think the intensity of our excitement about cardiac CTA definitely comes across,” says Shapiro. The technology itself— among the more difficult cardiac diagnostic tests to interpret—is still largely untapped, though its most common application is in ruling out coronary narrowing in patients with uncertain diagnoses. In those cases, CTA can definitively show whether or not a blockage is present—and avoid other unnecessary testing down the road.
But, where the bigger thrills lay for Shapiro and Bush are the various other applications for CTA that have yet to be widely used or understood.
“There are a dozen other niches for CTA that many haven’t caught on to yet,” Shapiro explains. “Once these are used to their full potential, CTA will dominate cardiac diagnostics.”
Until then, the five-day practicum bests others like it by teaching CTA interpretation within a clinical context and looking at patients holistically. That, says Bush, is not only more interesting to participants, but also increases involvement and interactivity.
“We’re not just saying sit back, listen and watch what we do,” says Bush. “This is a completely hands-on encounter.”
And, the two aren’t opposed to bantering disagreements within the specialty, highlighting differing opinions on analysis and figuring out with participants the significance of their findings.
“We’re looking at everything from all angles,” says Shapiro. “That’s the best interpretation.”