London creates unique DI partnership with Canon Medical
March 29, 2019
LONDON, ONT. – The London area, long-known for leadership in diagnostic imaging, is now kicking it up a notch through a partnership with Canon Medical Systems.
The agreement will see the region’s hospitals acquire six, top-tier CT machines for clinical use at a cost of $11.8 million, while Canon is providing an additional CT, angio suite and ultrasound machine as part of a $4.5 million investment in a new imaging research and development centre.
Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine is also part of the agreement, and the Robarts Research Institute will be the centre of the R&D initiative.
London Health Sciences and St. Joseph’s Health Care London will be the recipients of the clinical scanners.
It’s the largest installation of high-end, Aquilion ONE Genesis CT machines for Canon Medical anywhere in the world, and the announcement in March brought the company’s CEO, Toshio Takiguchi, from Japan to be part of the event.
“It’s our flagship CT,” said Mr. Takiguchi. “It has evolved a great deal since its launch 12 years ago.”
He said the partnership with the London medical organizations is an important one for the company: “Together, we’ll make an impact on society.”
Not only will LHSC and St. Joseph’s Health Care London benefit from using top-performing CT scanners, researchers at the Robarts Research Institute will also be devising new methods of imaging and image-guided therapies that will be offered to the nearby hospitals and to clinicians across Canada.
“Once we show they work in our pilots, we have an obligation to share them with our colleagues across the province and the country, too,” said Dr. Narinder Paul, chair of medical imaging at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and chief of radiology at LHSC and St. Joseph’s.
The research arrangement is being devised to speed up the translation of innovations “from bench to bedside.”
“We’ll also build a training academy to magnify the impact of these treatments,” he said.
Dr. Paul noted that London-area researchers and clinicians will work in close partnership with scientists and engineers from Canon.
London will act as a kind of laboratory to test imaging ideas and technologies produced by Canon, and to validate and refine them. It will also produce new concepts and technologies through the work of its own researchers.
In particular, it will be pursuing advances in hybrid technologies – where different imaging modalities are combined.
That’s the importance of the combination of CT, angio and portable ultrasound that’s being provided to Robarts by Canon.
On one front, “We’re going to further integrate ultrasound with angio,” said Dr. Aaron Fenster, imaging director at Robarts Research. “Ultrasound gives you real-time images, and is very useful in accurate biopsies, insertion of lines and ablations. It can have even more impact when you add the anatomical detail of angio.”
Similar lines of work will be followed with CT, as well.
And Dr. Paul observed that the CT machines will be near high-end MR devices at Robarts, which could spur further synergies among the researchers.
The acquisition of the equipment is a real coup for Robarts, which currently doesn’t have a CT scanner.
In addition to the CT for Robarts, two CT scanners will be delivered to LHSC’s University Hospital, three will go into the Victoria site, and one will be installed at St. Paul’s.
The installations are expected this fall.
CTs currently in operation at the hospitals are 10 to 12 years old. “Like old Volvos, they keep on working, but the new models are faster and have more advanced features,” said Dr. Paul.
Indeed, the new Aquilion ONE Genesis scanners are capable of head-to-toe imaging within seconds, and produce much thinner image slices. Today’s software is much improved, too, with advanced 3D reconstruction abilities.
At the same time, the X-ray dose to patients has been reduced, resulting in safer exams.
Jens Dettmann, general manager of Canon Medical Systems Canada, said that synergies between CT, angio and ultrasound will be promoted by locating the CT and angio suites right next to each other at the Robarts centre.
He said the application of AI to imaging will be another major theme of the research. To assist the London scientists, Canon will be providing the services of a full-time physicist and a service engineer. “It’s an investment in human resources, as well,” said Dettmann.
Dr. Davy Cheng, acting dean of the Schulich School of Medicine, noted at the launch: “We’re pleased to partner with the hospitals and Canon Medical.” He said the medical school works with 60 regional partners and is eager to help develop new CT protocols.
For his part, Dr. Paul Woods, CEO of London Health Sciences, said, “CTs are a fundamental tool used in medicine today. We do 70,000 CT scans annually at LHSC and St. Joseph’s.”
He said the six new machines “mean standardization at all London hospitals. As the equipment at the research institute will be the same as at the hospitals, we can expect faster translation of research findings to the clinical settings.”
Radiation reduction has been a major movement in CT and X-ray imaging in the past few years, and Robarts will be investigating this area, too. While vendors like Canon have taken huge strides in reducing radiation dose, Dr. Paul said more can be done.
“London has been at the forefront of medical imaging, but we’re taking that excellence to a new level,” said Gillian Kernaghan, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health Care London, which hosted the announcement. “This is a very exciting day.”