The Inaugural Lecture of Prof Dr Ng Kwan Hoong, 26 Nov 2004

5 July 2015

By Dr Sumithra Ranganathan

Editor’s Note: Prof Dr KH Ng is a member of the Academy of Medicine (College of Radiology Chapter). The College of Radiology congratulates Prof Dr Ng, lauds his many achievements and thanks him for his contributions to our allied professions.

“Advances in Medical Imaging: Seeing Structure and Function in the Human body”
The title of Professor Dr Ng Kwan Hoong’s inaugural lecture as a “full” professor in the department of Radiology, University of Malaya was most intriguing. He began his lecture showing an image of the Mona Lisa with her enigmatic smile, making you wonder what she was thinking and feeling.

Professor Ng’s inaugural lecture covered a variety of new imaging modalities available over the last half of the 20th century. Five new imaging modalities have been developed. These include Nuclear Medicine Imaging, Ultrasound, Computed Tomography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Digital Radiography. These imaging procedures have vastly improved diagnosis and management of many diseases, particularly cancer and cardiovascular disorders.

He emphasised that advances in clinical imaging and radiation therapy have been possible due to new discoveries and innovations in basic science, especially in biomedical engineering, molecular biology, medical physics and computer science.

Professor Ng also mentioned that medical imaging includes not only looking at anatomy but the physiological function of the organ systems leading to further diagnostic possibilities.

The introduction of nuclear medicine as well as positron emission tomography combined with computed tomography allows both anatomy and function to be visualised in the same image. Computer technology has further yielded revolutionary digital radiology leading to advancements in specific areas such as mammography and fine detail musculoskeletal surveys.

Magnetic resonance imaging too has added valuable diagnostic information without the hazards of ionizing radiation. Developments such as bone densitometry permit the early diagnosis of osteoporosis thus allowing preventative treatment.

Man-made radionuclide and high energy linear accelerators have led to improvement in the treatment of cancer. Newer, more powerful and faster computers are critical in imaging and therapy.

The implication for the future is that diagnostic procedures and agents may help identify either genotype or molecular phenotype of abnormalities in vivo. We are indeed living at the threshold of an exciting era of unsurpassed advances in medical imaging allowing early diagnosis and improved therapeutic technology for treatment and cure.

The audience held fast to their seats when Professor Ng showed images that took everyone into the world of virtual reality. This included a roller coaster ride through the colon by virtual colonoscopy and a ride into the bronchus by virtual bronchoscopy. He had us thinking about the movie – “The Matrix” – through a world of virtual therapy using 3D glasses and virtual knife in virtual surgery! Finally he made us think about how exciting imaging and the advances were when he talked about the wonders of molecular imaging.

I doubt Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen would have thought that his initial interest in seeing “through” the human body would have led to such exciting advances 109 years later. Kudos Professor Ng for a lecture that was exciting and stimulating.

Synopsis of the lecture: