Tracking Technology Trends

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  RSNA Exhibition Floor; Photo courtesy of RSNA.
   
Hundreds of new products and enhancements debuted and were previewed on the expansive exhibition floor of the RSNA annual meeting. Here is a collection of trends and technologies divided into the 18 categories our writers covered at the meeting. To take a look in at in-depth new product and enhancement announcements in each category by vendor, visit RSNA360.HealthImaging.com.


RIS/PACS makes images flow

Although most RSNA attendees confirmed that RIS/PACS has become a commodity, solutions continue to evolve and demonstrate their relevance and help in streamlining radiology workflow. Vendors touted integration, efficiency and actionable information.

The Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) nearly stole the stage at the show. “[Given the current climate], imaging center officials should understand how rapidly their imaging informatics solutions help them obtain a positive return on investment,” said Kenneth Rardin, Merge Healthcare president and CEO.

Across the board, RIS/PACS vendors offered the basics including improved graphical user interfaces to beefier integration between RIS and PACS and key tools like reporting and CAD.

At the next level, vendors such as Siemens Medical Solutions and Sage Software focused on the portal concept, which provides an efficient means to deliver context-sensitive data such as lab results and clinical documents. Looking beyond the next RIS/PACS upgrade, GE Healthcare, McKesson and Philips Healthcare offered prototypes of futuristic PACS interfaces and reading room concepts.

Read comprehensive post-show RIS/PACS coverage in Health Imaging News.


Next-gen CT promises more volume, quicker scans

 
  Siemens SOMATOM Definition screenshot
RSNA-goers curious about the future of CT hit the motherload. GE, Philips, Siemens and Toshiba America Medical Systems all debuted or previewed their next-generation systems, the first of which start deliveries this summer.

The new systems promise higher resolution cardiovascular and neurology images, in particularly, with larger detectors allowing imaging of more anatomy—such as a whole heart or brain (up to 16 cm with 0.5 mm resolution). Scan times are quicker thanks to faster gantry speeds, and across the board, radiation dose on each of the scanners is expected to be 80 percent less than current-generation systems. Reconstructions are faster, too. New detectors, scintillators, x-ray tubes and faster data processing speed are behind these innovations. Clinical applications are sure to widen.

For a closer look at the new systems and to hear what clinicians have to say about them, see our cover story, “A Look Inside: Next-Generation Multidetector CT.”

Read comprehensive post-show CT coverage in Health Imaging News.


PACS peripherals: The perfect compliment

Since most hospitals and medical imaging centers have adopted PACS, many vendors are improving PACS support products.

For the first time, more companies offered peripherals for individual departments that could be transferred into the centralized PACS through small manual CD or DVD burners.

Companies introduced purely customized PACS peripherals allowing products to be tailored to the specific routing needs of the center or hospital. First-time RSNA exhibitor, GencoSoft, presented its AutoPACS product that is completely customizable to its environment.

For dry film imagers, vendors mostly agreed there is still a need to print images, especially in mammography. Physicians also want to choose different sizes of film, print in color and see high resolution grayscale. Examples of two approaches to printing included Agfa HealthCare’s new Drystar imager, based on thermal contact technology and Carestream Health’s new DryView 6800 laser imager.

Read comprehensive post-show PACS Peripherals coverage in Health Imaging News.


Reading Services: Round-the-clock reading

More and more images equal more need for reads, and that’s good news for reading services. RSNA 2007 saw vendors such as Emory Night and Day Teleradiology, Franklin & Seidelmann Subspecialty Radiology, International Teleradiology, NightHawk Radiology Services, Templeton Readings and Virtual Radiologic highlight expanded and extended services.

Teleradiology services, now offered for every imaging subspecialty, can perform preliminary as well as final reads 24/7/365 and can even place radiologists on site. In response to the array of advanced imaging modalities, most remote reading service providers have added subspecialty reading expertise to their repertoires.

On the off-shore front, teleradiology service newcomer Merge introduced imaging consultations by radiologists not certified by the American Board of Radiology to provide U.S. radiologists with double-read exam consults for their final interpretation.

Read comprehensive post-show Reading Services coverage in Health Imaging News.


Speech turns the corner

Speech recognition has made the transition from an unproven, bleeding edge system to a demonstrated operational asset. “Speech recognition has crossed the chasm of acceptance. This year, we’re seeing more sites seriously evaluating speech,” said Mark Ivie, MedQuist senior vice president and chief technology officer. Other providers, Nuance Communications and Philips Speech Recognition Systems, also pointed to increased market penetration.

New speech features on the show floor enabled greater customization and deeper integration with RIS and PACS, but the major show news centered on partnerships and acquisitions that serve as a foundation for integration with other solutions. Nuance, for example, acquired Commissure and Vocada.

Read comprehensive post-show Voice Recognition coverage in Health Imaging News.


Furniture offers more mobility

Vendors displayed a variety of upgraded workstations, mainly driven by radiologists requesting more efficient and ergonomic reading room solutions.

Some tables have been outfitted with the ability to move up and down electronically, while others have the ability to tilt the entire workstation toward the viewer. With the touch of a button, AFC Industries’ Ergo Tier DX can be moved in a variety of ways. RedRick Technologies displayed the options of moving individual monitors. Anthro showed its work-in-progress, next-generation Carl’s Table with a suede surface to prevent papers from sliding off when tilted.

Read comprehensive post-show Furniture coverage in Health Imaging News.


Molecular imaging provides possibilities

 
  Philips NanoSPECT
Spend five minutes with any developer of molecular imaging technology and one thing becomes clear—they are passionate about the potential and possibilities of this field of healthcare. There was plenty of proof of the fusion imaging capabilities of modalities such as PET/CT and SPECT/CT.

A multispectral system from Carestream may be the next milestone for molecular imaging fusion modalities. Currently available for in-vivo, small-animal imaging, the system incorporates multispectral fluorescence, luminescence, digital x-ray and radioisotopic imaging. Philips showed its Mosiac HP PET system with new software and the NanoSPECT/CT for in-vivo animal imaging.

Developers such as Gamma Medica-Ideas and MEDX introduced dual-head gamma cameras as well as portable gamma cameras. Technology developments include new devices for breast, thyroid, oncology and cardiac applications.

PET and PET/CT spotlighted new applications for interpretation and improved workflow from companies such as GE, Siemens, Merge and Thinking Systems that will continue to refine and expand in cardiac, oncology and breast imaging.

Read comprehensive post-show Molecular Imaging coverage in Health Imaging News.


Advanced visualization gets fine tuned

Advanced visualization applications surged in all areas of diagnostic imaging. Distribution of ad viz technology across the enterprise was the news. And, while dedicated workstations could be located throughout the halls, thin-client applications appear to be gaining traction.

A recurring theme in this market sector was enhanced workflow and throughput with vendors such as Vital Images, Visage Imaging, TeraRecon, Barco, ScImage, Emageon, Carestream, Philips, Cedara, Siemens, GE and Fujifilm Medical Systems.

Temporal and functional enhancements, fly-through capabilities, advanced segmentation, and image co-registration functionalities were among the tools showcased that offer clinicians a new paradigm for diagnostic image interpretation.

Read comprehensive post-show Advanced Visualization coverage in Health Imaging News.


Health IT hits the entire workflow

Health IT vendors had many offerings to help facilities work smarter, including offerings to help streamline scheduling, billing and access to results for the ordering physician.

Carestream showcased its new version of Carestream RIS with a mammography module and a digital dashboard that supports monitoring of Kodak Carestream RIS operations. Cedara highlighted its Fusion RIS MS which offers enterprise-wide licensing and scaleable design, embedded modules and billing. Amicas introduced a new version of Vision Series RIS offers advanced work queues to optimize order entry and scheduling workflows. Amirsys showed is STATdx, the first point-of-care, clinical decision support system for imaging. Medicalis introduced its new Percipio Analytics product, a flexible, in-memory data analysis technology for multi-dimensional manipulation of large sets of clinical data.

Read comprehensive post-show Health IT coverage in Health Imaging News.


MRI looks sleeker, lighter

Unlike CT manufacturers’ seeming dedication to slice wars, MRI developers don’t appear to be engaged in a Tesla tussle of ever-higher field strengths. Although there were introductions of new, high-end 3T systems, the majority of vendors opted to demonstrate refinements and expanded capabilities for existing MR technology.

Sleeker, lighter, and more powerful 1.5T systems made their debut from Hitachi America Medical Systems and Siemens. Dedicated extremity scanners from companies such as ONI Medical Systems continue to make in-roads.

Enhancements in coil technology from developers such as Medrad were debuted, promising to optimize image acquisition and scanner time. Breast MRI also is gaining momentum among users, judging by the dedicated systems, software, and interventional technology offered by vendors such as Aurora Imaging Technologies.

New applications for existing scanner lines were showcased by developers such as GE, Philips and Toshiba; these software tools hold the promise of increasing clinical certainty.

Read comprehensive post-show MRI coverage in Health Imaging News.


Ultrasound zooms in on patient point of care

There was a big buzz around the small size and portability of some of the newest ultrasound systems. Image quality improvement, easier access and workflow efficiency also were touted. 

One of the crowd-stoppers at the show was Siemens’ new P10 handheld ultrasound, priced just under $10,000. One system from Zonare can be converted from a cart-based system to a compact ultrasound system at the push of a button. GE’s Logic I laptop is capable of transmitting data wirelessly to a workstation providing real portability. 

With the emergence of 3D/4D volume transducers from vendors such as GE and Toshiba, clinicians gain the ability to penetrate deeper to gather more data in less than a minute.

Read comprehensive post-show Ultrasound coverage in Health Imaging News.


Cardiac imaging moves with more CT slices

Cardiac imaging enhancements came mainly in the form of CT advancements. Toshiba rolled out its next-generation AquillionONE CT scanner, a system based on dynamic volume CT technology with 320 detector elements, while Philips showcased its work-in-progress 256-slice Brilliance iCT scanner. Siemens added a 128-count configuration and “adaptive” scanning to its new Somatom Definition AS.

GE took a different path by incorporating high-definition (HD) technology into its next-generation CT scanners, acquiring images 100 times faster than dual source and lowering dose by 80 percent.

The next generation of interventional imaging systems was on display in the Siemens’ booth. Pending FDA approval, the new Artiz zeego features a multi-axis C-arm that employs robotic technology for flexible positioning. On the CVIS side, Agfa launched its Impax Cardiovascular Suite that focuses on the specific needs of the multi-modality cardiology department with server-based 3D tools. McKesson introduced an ECG Management System for its integrated Horizon CVIS. 

Read comprehensive post-show Cardiac Imaging coverage in Health Imaging News.


Digital x-ray covers the market

 
  Philips GXR RF Digital
Whatever the application, patient volume, or setting, digital x-ray vendors at RSNA had it covered. Equipment featuring the best from DR and CR helps users stretch their budgets. Despite sluggish sales this year for several modalities, many x-ray vendors said they had their best RSNA to date. Vendors offered a range of compact systems for maximum flexibility and also focused on productivity, image quality, affordability and efficient radiation dosage.

Look for some newer players to make their mark. After capturing half of the Chinese DR market, IMIX Americas launched their IMIX insight line of full-featured, affordable DR products. First-time exhibitor biospace med showcased its EOS ultra low dose 2D/3D Xray imager.

Companies such as Carestream discussed the draw of its consistent graphical user interface, while IDC said that facilities continue to migrate from film-based imaging to digital x-ray and offerings like its X-Series help make that a smooth, affordable effort.

Advanced features such as automated positioning and touch-screen displays right on the machine make exam set-up efficient.

Read comprehensive post-show Digital X-ray coverage in Health Imaging News.


Women’s imaging: Digital is the word

The RSNA exhibition floor provided plenty of evidence that women’s imaging is a growing market. The rage came mainly in the form of more digital mammography solutions and complimentary peripherals, as well as MR-guided breast biopsy systems, PACS and CAD.

Many more vendors are now offering DR and CR systems for mammo, including a number pending FDA approval. In that class are Carestream and Agfa with CR systems for mammo which are currently distributed in Canada. Philips provided a look at their work-in-progress MammoDiagnost DR. Sweden-based Sectra showcased its MicroDose Mammography featuring photon-counting technology. 

Hologic showcased a full suite of offerings including Selenia S digital mammo system, as well as a peek into the future of tomosynthesis. GE touted its work-in-progress mobile digital mammo solution, the Senographe Mobile Essential, currently being tested in Seattle.

PACS are now available specifically for mammo and CAD and 3D/4D is more specialized—such as InVivo’s DynaCAD 2.0 advanced visualization workstation with MRI dataset breast application. With a solid MRI system for breast imaging, Aurora was an example of advancing image-guided biopsy capabilities.

Read comprehensive post-show Women's Imaging coverage in Health Imaging News.


CAD flexes its muscles

CAD’s growing maturity in certain segments was apparent both on the show floor and in scientific sessions. New CAD solutions are smarter, stronger and broader than their parents. Vendors shared an array of solutions; mammography and lung CAD systems were joined by breast MRI and ultrasound systems and colon and prostate solutions. What’s more, vendors such as Carestream, iCAD, Confirma, Philips and Siemens unveiled impressive works in progress— hinting at a powerful future for CAD.

Significant works in progress included chest CAD; computer-aided measurement of pulmonary lesions; and a breast tomosynthesis product. 

On the research side, Riverain Medical and The Cleveland Clinic announced plans to begin a study to determine if chest x-ray CAD can help identify hard-to-detect lung cancers at an early stage.

Read comprehensive post-show CAD coverage in Health Imaging News.


Data Storage: More space, smaller footprints

Smaller and more space continues to lead the trend in data storage as was evident at RSNA 2007. The capacity of data storage is keeping up with the growing number of medical images stored in a PACS.

Companies offering internet archival capabilities, such as EMC, believe that the solution is the most effective method for disaster recovery. For on-premise grid systems, such as the solution offered by Network Appliance, most companies showcased stackable products that can add additional rows of storage and are supported by a tape or CD archive. Plasmon talked up the benefits of being environment-friendly with lower costs for power, cooling and maintenance.

Read comprehensive post-show Data Storage coverage in Health Imaging News.


Displays push the pixels

Last year’s murmurs about a color revolution turned into a loud roar, evident in the number of high-brightness color displays for both color and grayscale needs capable of different forms of calibration and maintenance showcased. Barco was one vendor covering the color spectrum with its 30-inch, widescreen 6MP display, capable of viewing grayscale and color studies on a single, multi-modality, high-resolution system.

Monochrome monitors pushed the envelope of image resolution with Totoku’s 15 MP display exhibited by U.S. Electronics and a 16 MP display unveiled by Planar.

Medical display manufacturers, including NDS Surgical, responded to the increasing demand for large-format, diagnostic-grade monitors with displays capable of side-by-side digital image comparison and cross-section views. In the large, rough n’ tough category, Double Black Imaging’s 42-inch, splash and drip-proof medical panel could be “hosed-off,” making it a great fit for use in the OR.

Read comprehensive post-show Displays coverage in Health Imaging News.


Oncology imaging targets treatment

Oncology imaging and treatment planning systems continue to offer more tailored and precise radiation treatment planning and delivery. Links to PACS and portals help clinicians work efficiently with the most relevant information for maximum patient safety.

BrainLab highlighted its ExacTrac X-Ray 6D, an automated patient positioning system that pinpoints internal tumors, corrects patient set-up and tracks patient movement throughout treatments. Cedara announced that its imaging service grid and a specialized version of I-Response have recently been integrated with the National Cancer Institute’s National Cancer Imaging Archive.

Carestream showed the 2000RT CR Plus, designed for radiation oncology professionals. The system supports multiple treatment rooms and multiple linear accelerators and simulation devices.

Read comprehensive post-show Oncology Imaging coverage in Health Imaging News.