Hollis Potter, M.D., Hospital for Special Surgery

Hollis Potter

Integrated Radiology

Editors’ Note

Dr. Hollis Potter is a Board-Certified Radiologist specializing in Musculoskeletal MRI since 1990. She has published 224 scientific articles and 64 book chapters. Dr. Potter has presented and been invited to speak locally, nationally, and internationally at orthopedic and radiologic scientific meetings. She is funded for MRI research in both clinical and basic science projects. Her MRI laboratory is actively funded by the NIH NIAMS for translational MRI research.

When it comes to choosing the right radiologist, is that process well understood by patients?

Increasingly, it is. Ideally, we’d like to show that, if one has their MRI done at a specialty facility and interpreted by an experienced radiologist with expertise in that area, they’ll have a better surgical outcome, less time in the operating room, and a more rapid rehabilitation period.

This is tough to do. It has been demonstrated in a research arena, but in order to do it in the most robust way, one would have to truly randomize patients to an HSS MRI interpreted by a senior radiologist with vast expertise and then to a private practice with more junior people who haven’t specialized.

The frustration I’ve had for so long is that people agonize over choosing a surgeon or a cardiologist, but they never think at all about the radiologist. Often, there is a misconception that their surgeon will take care of it and read the MRI. However, the surgeons at HSS rely heavily on pre-operative imaging. Many of the surgeons get an MRI before they examine the patient so that they can examine the patient in light of the imaging findings. The patient comes in with a definitive diagnosis that is matched with their physical symptoms and refined by the physical exam of the surgeon. This allows them to come up with the best treatment plan. Radiologists at HSS are very integrated into the entire plan of care.

Where is innovation taking place within radiology and imaging?

It starts with meeting an unmet need – finding out what the surgeons complain about the most and coming up with an imaging solution to solve those problems. With regards to pain after joint replacement, pain is often generated by soft tissue; MRI is the best means to evaluate soft tissue. The hurdle we had to overcome was that we were putting a big piece of metal inside a patient and putting it in a large magnet. We had to show it was safe and also reduce some of the artifact generated by the metal.

We now have NIH funding in this area at our MRI lab, and it has opened a new imaging market for us.

Orthopedic surgeons refer their patients to us because we show them things their standard imaging can’t. It’s tremendous for the patients because we can find the cause for their pain and get them more quickly on the road to recovery.