Always innovating

One of the fascinating aspects of medical imaging is the pace at which innovative technologies are developed and spread. Whether it’s an improvement with informatics or a novel addition to imaging hardware, it seems like an intriguing new project is unveiled every week.

This week, there were a couple such stories in Health Imaging, one involving high-tech robotics and the other being a new use for a product pulled from an auto parts store shelf.

At Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., researchers are working on a process to remove clots in the brain following intracerebral hemorrhage that combines image guidance with the steady hand of a robot. Using a CT scan for guidance, a surgeon can use robotically controlled steerable needles about the size of those used in biopsies to actually remove the clot.

The project is still being tested on models with simulated blood clots, but has already demonstrated enormous potential to help those who sustain an intracerebral hemorrhage, an event with a 40 percent mortality rate.

The other innovative technology in the newsletter this week was a photodetector created using molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), a popular auto engine lubricant, which could boost imaging speeds in some large-area imaging devices. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, added a thin film of MoS2 to a sheet of amorphous silicon (a-Si), a commonly used sensing element in photodetectors, which created a diode featuring a photoresponse rate 10 times faster than a-Si alone.

While gadgets get headlines, sometimes the most important kind of innovation is not technological, but a rethinking of processes and discovering new ways of coordinating. A reminder of this came from Geoffrey T. Manley, MD, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco, and Andrew I. R. Maas, MD, PhD, of the University of Antwerp, Belgium, who wrote a viewpoint article in JAMA about the need for new methods to classify and study traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Manley and Maas argued that the taxonomies, outcome assessments, measures of economic effects and infrastructure for research and clinical care all need to be updated to better treat TBI. The Glasgow Outcome Scale-Extended measure of outcomes is global, insensitive and doesn’t allow for mechanistic targeting for clinical trials.

Some progress has been made, however, with the development of the TBI Common Data Elements, which cover clinical, imaging, biospecimen and outcomes data. The next step in TBI research will require international coordination of clinical trials using improved outcomes measures to better understand the condition.

How is your practice innovating?

-Evan Godt
Sr. Staff Writer – Health Imaging