CT workflow: Syringeless contrast injectors outperform dual-syringe systems

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As outpatient CT programs scramble to squeeze every ounce of efficiency and cost-savings from their investments, syringeless power injectors may deliver improved workflow and efficiency, according to a study published in the August issue of Journal of American College of Radiology.

Outpatient practices can increase CT revenue by increasing patient throughput and managing costs. One potential target is contrast-enhanced CT, which accounts for approximately 40 to 60 percent of exam volume, and requires additional steps and time beyond unenhanced studies. “Therefore, shortening any of the steps associated with contrast media (CM) administration can influence operational delivery,” wrote Xiaozhou Ma, MD, from the department of abdominal imaging and intervention at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues.

Ma and colleagues designed a prospective study to compare enhancement quality, performance efficiency, technologists’ satisfaction and operation costs between dual-syringe and syringeless power injectors (PI) in an outpatient setting.

Between February and March 2007, a total of 275 consecutive patients were randomized to one of two CT systems fitted with either a dual-syringe or syringeless PI. The researchers evaluated quantitative factors, such as preparation time and CM wastage, and qualitative measures, including quality of contrast enhancement.

“The quality of contrast enhancement was comparable between the two PIs and was rated 4.50 and 4.45, on average for the syringeless and dual-syringe PIs, respectively.”

However, preparation and release times were shorter for the syringeless model, and no CM wastage occurred with the syringeless system. An average of 11 mL wastage per exam occurred with the dual-syringe PI.

The researchers estimated a total cost savings of $267 for the 135 patients in the syringeless arm. The syringeless model also received higher overall operator satisfaction scores, and scored an average of 9.3 on a 10-point scale, compared with 6.3 for the dual-syringe system.

The increased efficiency associated with the syringeless system translated into an additional scanning capacity of 2.6 patients per day in the room equipped with that model.

“The syringeless PI was found to be more user-friendly and efficient and to minimize contrast wastage and provide similar contrast enhancement quality in comparison with the dual-syringe injector,” concluded Ma et al.