Cardiothoracic Imaging

Formerly known as Chest Radiology, the Thoracic Imaging Section of our department is responsible for a variety of clinical chest-related imaging, including computed radiographs (digital chest x-rays), CT scans, chest biopsies (including lung), and some cardiovascular imaging. In addition, the section does research in these areas, as well as MR imaging of the chest. They cover HUP, Radnor, and partially Presbyterian, reading over 85,000 examinations a year. Because those most vital organs, the lungs, are included in the chest, the thoracic imagers have weekly conferences with groups that include doctors from pulmonary medicine, oncology, surgery, pathology, and others, as well as daily conferences for the various intensive care units. The section includes 8 full-time faculty and 4 part-time faculty.

Dr. Gefter, section chief, says that this is the most exciting time to be in chest imaging, with the new functional imaging possibilities, new multi-dimensional image display and analysis tools, and markedly improved scanners available. Indeed, Penn is a major site for functional lung imaging, with Dr. Gefter and thoracic imaging colleague Dr. Torigian collaborating with Rahim Rizi, an MR researcher in the department, to develop hyperpolarized gas imaging of the lungs. Another functional technique is being developed with Larry Dougherty, another MR researcher, who is studying optical flow imaging to help assess changes in the lungs over time. Currently used to study lung nodules, they hope in the future to be able to identify and quantify regions of abnormal function and subsequently the disease progression, or improvement with treatment. This can be applied to studies of emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary embolism, and the evaluation of transplant or lung volume reduction surgery.