Physician centred imaging interpretation is dying out — why should I be a nuclear medicine physician?

  • Roland HustinxEmail author
Review Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Advanced Image Analyses (Radiomics and Artificial Intelligence)


Radiomics, machine learning, and, more generally, artificial intelligence (AI) provide unique tools to improve the performances of nuclear medicine in all aspects. They may help rationalise the operational organisation of imaging departments, optimise resource allocations, and improve image quality while decreasing radiation exposure and maintaining qualitative accuracy. There is already convincing data that show AI detection, and interpretation algorithms can perform with equal or higher diagnostic accuracy in various specific indications than experts in the field. Preliminary data strongly suggest that AI will be able to process imaging data and information well beyond what is visible to the human eye, and it will be able to integrate features to provide signatures that may further drive personalised medicine. As exciting as these prospects are, they currently remain essentially projects with a long way to go before full validation and routine clinical implementation. AI uses a language that is totally unfamiliar to nuclear medicine physicians, who have not been trained to manage the highly complex concepts that rely primarily on mathematics, computer sciences, and engineering. Nuclear medicine physicians are mostly familiar with biology, pharmacology, and physics, yet, considering the disruptive nature of AI in medicine, we need to start acquiring the knowledge that will keep us in the position of being actors and not merely witnesses of the wonders developed by other stakeholders in front of our incredulous eyes. This will allow us to remain a useful and valid interface between the image, the data, and the patients and free us to pursue other, one might say nobler tasks, such as treating, caring and communicating with our patients or conducting research and development.


Artificial intelligence Radiomics Nuclear medicine Molecular imaging 



The author expresses his gratitude toward Dr. Nadia Withofs for fruitful discussion, and John Bean, for text editing.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author has received a speaker honorarium from GE Healthcare, outside the scope of this manuscript.

There is no other conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Nuclear Medicine and Oncological ImagingUniversity Hospital of LiègeLiègeBelgium
  2. 2.GIGA-CRC in vivo ImagingUniversity of LiègeLiègeBelgium

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