Press Releases


Synergy Radiology Associates Radiologists Using Hi-Tech, 3-D Imaging for Better Prostate Cancer Diagnosis, Less Worry

UroNav Fusion Biopsy System combines MRI, computer modeling and live ultrasound for faster, more accurate prostate cancer diagnosis after suspicious findings

July 11, 2017

HOUSTON — Radiologists from Synergy Radiology Associates (SRA) are using the power of 3-D medical imaging and subspecialty radiology to provide better patient care for men with suspicious prostate cancer findings.

The American Cancer Society reports that prostate cancer is the most common cancer and second leading cause of death among U.S. men. Therefore, when positive digital rectal exams (DRE) and elevated PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels raise suspicion of cancer, a sampling (biopsy) of prostate gland tissue is recommended. These tissue samples are used to help diagnose and determine the grade, or Gleason score, of prostate cancer.

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Unfortunately, current biopsy methods aren’t always efficient at finding actual cancer, leading to repeat and sometimes unnecessary biopsies. That’s where magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and the UroNav Fusion Biopsy System come in.

“The UroNav approach tends to find those lesions that are more likely to become cancer and require treatment,” said SRA radiologist Larry Schock, M.D., specializing in body imaging and diagnostic radiology. “Radiologists appreciate the computer-aided 3-D imaging capabilities supporting UroNav that improve diagnosis, detection and treatment planning; our male patients appreciate a quicker, more certain diagnosis with fewer repeat or unnecessary biopsies. It’s also an excellent tool for diagnosing high-risk or aggressive prostate cancers.”

If a suspicious lesion is identified using prostate MRI, the UroNav DynaCAD workstation allows SRA radiologists to quickly view and work with 3-D images of the prostate for highly accurate diagnosis and location of suspicious tissue. Urologists then use live ultrasound plus existing 3-D MRI images during biopsy to obtain the best tissue samples.

Before UroNav, physicians relied primarily upon transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) to visualize the prostate gland and sample multiple areas of the prostate in an effort to detect possible cancer cells. However, with TRUS biopsies, cancer can often go undetected, according to recent published research.

“With UroNav, radiologists and urologists work in tandem, using the power of MRI, radiology subspecialty expertise and ultrasound guidance to accurately detect cancer 90 percent of the time,” said Dr. Schock. “This combined technology offers a truly new biopsy option for patients with suspicious prostate findings or who are under active surveillance.”

UroNav incorporates prostate image information from pre-biopsy MRI, computer-aided image enhancement and ultrasound-guided needle biopsy. This “fusion” of MRI and ultrasound results in targeted biopsies that are much better at detecting true cancer while avoiding the detection of low-risk or slow-growing cancer.

“Prostate is one of the most common but most curable cancers in men, and early, accurate detection can make all the difference in surviving,” said SRA President Walid Adham, M.D. “It’s incredibly rewarding for our radiology team to work with this advanced UroNav system to improve diagnosis, decrease worry and provide the best care possible to our patients.”

The UroNav procedure is now being performed by urologists at several Memorial Hermann Hospitals. Diagnostic prostate MRI takes about 30 to 45 minutes in the hospital or imaging center. The UroNav fusion biopsy is an outpatient procedure that takes about 15 to 20 minutes and can be performed very shortly after the diagnostic MRI.

UroNav is recommended for patients with a PI-RADS (prostate scoring system) score of 3 or higher, negative prior transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) biopsies with a continued elevated or rising PSA, or positive digital rectal examination with a negative TRUS biopsy.

For more information on UroNav and other minimally invasive procedures, visit our Vascular and Interventional services page. Physician practices interested in learning more about prostate MRI and UroNav should contact the Synergy Radiology team at 713-621-1103.

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Synergy Radiology Associates Expands Treatment Options for Patients with Colon Cancer That Has Spread to the Liver

New NCCN cancer treatment guidelines expand use of tumor-targeting Y-90 radiation treatment to patients with liver dominant, chemotherapy resistant colorectal cancer

March 2, 2017

HOUSTON — Radiologists from Synergy Radiology Associates (SRA) are now treating Houston-area patients with colon cancer that has spread to the liver, using an advanced treatment for inoperable liver tumors. Originally indicated for inoperable liver cancer, new national cancer guidelines allow for the use of Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT) in patients with liver dominant, chemotherapy resistant colorectal disease.

“This treatment offers new hope to patients suffering from this difficult disease,” said SRA interventional radiologist Michael Richter, M.D. “For radiologists, this updated guideline means we have another tool in our arsenal for treating a very challenging cancer diagnosis.”

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SIRT is an interventional radiology procedure that delivers millions of tiny, radioactive SIR-Spheres® microspheres through blood vessels directly to the tumor site. Developed by Sirtex Medical Limited (ASX: SRX), SIR-Spheres is now included as a Category 2A recommended treatment in the latest National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) Clinical Practice Guidelines for colon cancer and rectal cancer.

“SIRT is an important part of a multidisciplinary approach to liver cancer that can help improve quality of life with fewer side effects, and we’re excited to make it available to area patients,” said SRA President Walid Adham, M.D. “We will continue to look at new treatments that provide advantages over current treatments that can benefit our referring physicians and their patients.”

SIR-Spheres microspheres are the only fully FDA-approved microspheres for colorectal cancer that has metastasized to the liver. The NCCN Category 2A designation means there is uniform consensus among the NCCN panel that SIRT with yttrium-90 (Y-90) microspheres is an appropriate option in chemotherapy resistant patients whose colorectal disease has spread to the liver. The recommendation also places SIR-Spheres on par with recommended metastatic colon cancer chemotherapy treatments.

SRA radiologists are now performing the procedure at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital, Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital, and Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital. Most patients are usually able to go home four to six hours after the procedure, and the reported side effects are few. Patients experience mild, flu-like symptoms for a period of one to two weeks after the procedure. SIRT can be used for primary liver cancers as well as metastatic disease in the liver, including colorectal and breast cancer.

For more information on SIRT and other minimally invasive procedures, visit our Y-90 informational page. Physician practices interested in learning more about Y-90 radioembolization should contact the Synergy Radiology interventional team at 713-897-5853.

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Synergy Radiology Associates Radiologists Deliver New Liver Tumor Treatment to Houston-Area Patients

Tiny plastic spheres target inoperable liver tumors in conjunction with chemotherapy

September 26, 2016

HOUSTON — Radiologists from Synergy Radiology Associates (SRA), which provides the highest level of minimally invasive expertise in the Houston metropolitan area, are performing a new, advanced treatment for inoperable liver tumors. The minimally invasive treatment, Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT) or Y-90 radioembolization, can be performed along with chemotherapy.

“SIRT is an important component to the multidisciplinary approach to liver cancer, and we are excited to be able to offer it to our patients,” said SRA interventional radiologist Michael Richter, M.D. “This minimally invasive procedure has shown promising results in controlling liver cancer while maintaining a good quality of life for the patient.”

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During SIRT treatment, millions of SIR-Spheres® microspheres are delivered through blood vessels directly to the tumor site.

SRA radiologists are now performing the procedure at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital and Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital. Most patients are usually able to go home four to six hours after the procedure, and the reported side effects are few. Most patients experience flu-like symptoms for a period of one to two weeks after the procedure. SIRT can be used for primary liver cancers as well as metastatic disease in the liver, such as colorectal and breast cancer.

“We’re always looking at new treatments that provide the most benefit for referring physicians and their patients,” said SRA President Walid Adham, M.D. “Our radiologists provide the highest level of minimally invasive expertise in Houston, and we’re pleased to help make this new procedure available to Houston area residents.”

Often used for both primary and metastatic tumors in the liver, SIR-Spheres microspheres are the only fully FDA-approved microspheres for colorectal cancer that has metastasized to the liver.

For more information on SIRT and other minimally invasive procedures, visit http://synergyrad.org/our-services/vascular-and-interventional. Physician practices interested in learning more about Y-90 radioembolization should contact the Synergy Radiology interventional team at 713-897-5853.

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Synergy Radiology Associates Welcomes Four New Radiologists

New physicians bring subspecialty expertise in diagnostic radiology, interventional radiology, neuroradiology, MRI

July 10, 2016

HOUSTON — Four new physicians have joined Synergy Radiology Associates (SRA), the largest private radiology practice in the Houston metropolitan area. SRA is pleased to welcome Michael Richter, M.D., Elizabeth C. Robert, M.D., Anthony Rowe, M.D., and J. Yasmin Alexander, M.D.

“We extend a very warm welcome to these highly skilled and dedicated members of our radiology team,” said SRA President Walid Adham, M.D. “They reflect our ongoing commitment to provide our patients and the medical communities we serve with the best possible radiology care and services.”

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Dr. Richter is a graduate of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston with subspecialty expertise in interventional and diagnostic radiology; Dr. Robert, a graduate of the Louisiana State University of Medicine in New Orleans, La., has subspecialty expertise in diagnostic radiology and MRI. Dr. Rowe earned his Doctor of Medicine from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., with subspecialty expertise in interventional radiology; Dr. Alexander is a graduate of Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., she is subspecialty trained in neuroradiology and diagnostic radiology. All four are board certified by the American Board of Radiology.

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Synergy Radiology Associates Supports Medical Society Recommendations, Federal Legislation, for Annual Breast Cancer Screening Starting at Age 40

Cites concerns that confusing, flawed guidelines could result in women losing access to life-saving annual mammograms

December 9, 2015

HOUSTON — Synergy Radiology Associates (SRA), the largest private radiology practice in the Houston metropolitan area, said it supports annual screening mammography for breast cancer starting at age 40, in agreement with most professional medical society guidelines. Furthermore, the radiology group supports the Protecting Access to Lifesaving Screenings Act (PALS Act). The federal legislation would delay proposed U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations against annual screening mammograms for women age 40 to 49.

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The radiology group’s announcement comes in the wake of recently updated American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines that said women could wait until age 45 to start annual breast cancer screening. That’s contrary to American College of Radiology (ACR), Society of Breast Imaging (SBI), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and other major medical organization guidelines. The ACR and SBI jointly support passage of the PALS Act.

SRA radiologist Reena Vashi, M.D., is concerned about the mixed messages being sent to women, health care providers and insurance companies, which increase the possibility of women losing access to life-saving mammograms.

“Let’s clear up the confusion: getting a mammogram once a year, every year, starting at age 40 is the best way to decrease a woman’s risk of dying from breast cancer,” said Vashi, who is subspecialty trained in breast and body imaging and serves as chair of the Breast Program Leadership Committee at Clear Lake Regional Medical Center. “The goal of mammography is to detect breast cancer at the earliest stage, when it is the most treatable. All major professional medical organizations, including the ACS and USPSTF, agree that screening mammography between age 40 and 50 saves lives.”

Critics of annual screening mammograms raise concerns about potential harms of annual screening before age 45, including overdiagnosis, false alarms and increased anxiety. Vashi and others say the clinical data overwhelmingly supports the fact that the benefits of screening and early detection outweigh the potential harms in the 40-to-50 age group, while the USPSTF ignores recent science that shows annual screening mammography to be far more effective than older studies that were considered by the task force.

“Not a single major professional organization recommends against annual screenings in this age group, and overdiagnosis is a misnomer,” explained Vashi. “As radiologists, our responsibility is to use the best evidence-based screening guidelines to accurately detect and diagnose breast cancer, and it starts with screening at age 40.”

The ACR, SBI and ACS all agree that overdiagnosis claims are vastly inflated due to flaws in numerous clinical trials, and any overdiagnosis that does occur is primarily due to one particular type of cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). In fact, very few invasive cancers are overdiagnosed, and no evidence shows that an invasive cancer has ever gone away or has shrunk without treatment. Additionally, new technologies such as 3-D digital mammography (tomosynthesis), also ignored by the USPSTF, are helping to decrease false alarms even further while achieving a higher cancer detection rate.

“We are committed to providing our patients with the highest caliber radiology services available, and that includes following the most widely accepted breast cancer screening guidelines that provide the most benefit and will save the most lives,” said SRA President Walid Adham, M.D. “While well-intentioned, the ACS guidelines have been oversimplified in news reports and have, along with recent USPSTF actions, had the effect of confusing the issue of annual screening mammograms.”

More information about breast cancer screening facts and guidelines is also available at the ACR’s Mammography Saves Lives website.

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Synergy Rebranding

January 9, 2012

Memorial Radiology Associates P.A., Lonestar Radiology, and Southwest Radiology Association P.A. are pleased to announce that they will combine operations effective November 1, 2011, and operate under the name, “Synergy Radiology Associates P.A.” The three practices, consisting of over 50 radiologists, will be the largest private radiology practice in the Houston metropolitan area and will service nine hospitals and several outpatient clinics in the Harris County, Montgomery County and Ft. Bend County areas. When the combination is complete, Synergy will offer its patients, hospitals, clinics and referring physicians a broad range of radiology services including advanced diagnostic and subspecialty imaging as well as interventional radiology procedures.

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Dr. Stephen C. (“Cal”) Dalton, Chair of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Synergy, said, “We recognize that our hospitals seek a single point of access for a diverse range of services that are provided by physicians who hold themselves to the highest standards. The synergies of our groups made it easy to design an organization committed to exceptional quality and to those high standards that put patients first. Combining to form Synergy Radiology Associates allows us to partner with health care systems to respond to expected changes generated by health care reform and to support our patients, hospitals, clinics and referring physicians in a more effective, efficient, and cutting-edge manner. We believe our combined efforts will make us a leader in radiology, and our doctors and staff are excited about our future together at Synergy.”

For more information, please contact Anola Baird at (713) 861-8200.

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