GE boosts cardiac imaging and IT capabilities
GE Healthcare touted enhancements to its cath lab, IT and MRI platforms and announced its first cardiac CT installation at this week's American College of Cardiology Conference, March 6 - 8, in Orlando, Fla.

The first cardiology-specific installation of GE's next-generation volume computed tomography scanner, the LightSpeed VCT has been installed at Round Rock Cardiology, an independent cardiology practice near Austin, Texas. This marks the first installation intended exclusively for cardiac applications by a cardiologist.

The LightSpeed VCT 64-slice CT scanner enables cardiologists to capture images of the heart and coronary arteries in five heartbeats. It also allows the imaging of any body organ in one second  and can perform a whole body trauma scan in less than 10 seconds. In one rotation, the system creates 64 submillimeter images, totally 40 mm of anatomical coverage.  It has the capability to attain 43 millisecond temporal resolution. GE said it has installed four LightSpeed VCT's to date and are installing one a week around the world in 2005.

Major enhancements to the Innova 4100 and Innova 3100 cardiovascular and interventional imaging systems incorporate a new automated imaging technique called InnovaBreeze that GE says allows physicians to more clearly see the vessels and anatomy from the stomach down through the legs.

InnovaBreeze is a type of digital imaging used primarily for pictures of the arteries in the legs. During imaging, the table moves to follow an injection of contrast media from the aorta to the feet. The Innova system has simultaneous operator controlled variable table speed movement and real-time subtraction of the surrounding anatomy from the blood vessels. This continuous subtracted vessel capability of InnovaBreeze allows physicians to follow the blood flow down the legs and effectively target an area of disease.

InnovaBreeze includes specialized software that provides automatic combination of separate images taken down the legs into a single image of the entire contrast-filled peripheral vasculature for a convenient examination by the physician.
On the IT front, GE showcased the Centricity Cardiology CA 1000 that can act as a dedicated modality workstation, a departmental solution when combined with an archive system or an enterprise-wide solution with Centricity PACS. The system was recently installed at HCA Richmond of Richmond, Va. HCA Richmond includes a network of four hospital and two outpatient surgery centers.

Using CA 1000, caregivers can now access a single, comprehensive patient jacket for both radiology and cardiology images without compromising depth of clinical tools and workflow needed in the cardiac department.

GE also announced a new version of its CardioSoft multi-function cardiac testing software, which can capture ECG data and enables physicians to update the EMR patient record with critical cardiac data. This new integration provides physicians with one complete electronic medical record and eliminates the need for clinicians to store ECG paper records.

CardioSoft software, which will be available this spring, provides seamless integration with GE's Centricity Physician Office - Electronic Medial Record (CPO-EMR) system. It is a multifunctional software product, which provides high quality clinical data for resting ECG and stress testing.  CardioSoft utilizes tools such as Marquette's 12 SL interpretation program and industry-leading noise handling algorithms for stress. GE also offers an optional spirometry module and an ambulatory blood pressure module.
CardioSoft and CPO-EMR applications can both reside on a single PC for improved workflow and cost efficiency. CPO-EMR software system enables ambulatory care physicians and clinical staff to document patient encounters, streamline clinical workflow, and securely exchange clinical data with other providers, patients, and information systems.

New cardiac imaging techniques developed with the world's first high-definition magnetic resonance (HDMR) system were also showcased at ACC.  HDMR, available on GE Signa 1.5T and 3.0T MR systems, is helpful with difficult to image patients due to movement, including Parkinson's patients who suffer from uncontrollable patient motion and children who do not respond to sedation. In addition, HDMR is enabling physicians to consistently perform highly targeted studies of diabetic patients with lower blood flow to the lower legs.

Among the enhancements are:
  • 1.5T EXCITE HD MR ECHO CARDIAC IMAGING: Real-time imaging of the heart with the resolution of MR at the speed of ultrasound, without the need for breath holding or ECG gating.

  • <>EXCITE HD TRICKS (Time Resolved Imaging of Contrast KineticS) ANGIOGRAPHIC IMAGING: A new 32-element peripheral 1.5T vascular coil, providing images of the lower leg and foot vessels with unprecedented definition. More than half of diabetic patients have inadequate characterization of lower-leg vasculature. TRICKS accelerates the temporal resolution of three-dimensional dynamic imaging. Clinicians can acquire 12 times the amount of data typically collected in a conventional MR angiography exam, GE said.
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  • REPORTCARD: A tool that significantly reduces review, analysis and cardiac MR reporting time.