Imaging experts, look to RSNA as a source of DI innovation
January 27, 2022
CHICAGO – Technology vendors showed off many of their latest innovations at the annual RSNA conference, with new solutions in ultrasound, CT, MR, cloud, AI and more. Here is a sampling of what could be seen on the show floor. Note that not everything is FDA or Health Canada approved, as these technologies are very new.
Ultrasound: GE Healthcare this year announced a new generation of its handheld ultrasound scanner, called the Vscan Air. The wireless, pocket-sized device is said to have much-improved clarity, with whole-body scanning capabilities and intuitive software.
GE came out with its first handheld ultrasound in 2010; since then, it has sold 30,000 of the units worldwide. With its new features, the Vscan Air will enable clinicians to work more efficiently and provide faster and better diagnoses. The company cited several studies showing lung ultrasound to be comparable to both X-ray and CT when examining the lungs of COVID-19 patients.
Interestingly, the Vscan Air allows whole-body scans, both shallow and deep exams, with a flip of the two-sided probe. The clinician doesn’t have to switch probes in-between or during clinical exams.
GE says the Vscan Air incorporates chips that have been adapted from high-end ultrasound systems, resulting in high-resolution imaging with lower power consumption.
The company quoted Dr. Yale Tung-Chen, chief of ultrasound in internal medicine at the Hospital Universitario Puerta de Hierro, in Madrid, Spain: “The images you can get of the heart on this handheld device are similar to what you’d get from a full-sized, high-end ultrasound. Vscan Air is a well-designed, powerful tool that’s easy to clean and easy to use.”
The Vscan is ready for Canada, with Health Canada having given its approval in January.
Interventional radiology: Philips announced at the RSNA its vision for interventional medicine with a system that combines spectral CT and real-time fluoroscopy, creating a hybrid Angio CT suite. The solution gives interventionalists immediate table-side access to these two imaging modalities, so they can perform procedures requiring both CT and angio guidance in one room.
The company is working closely with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and Baptist Health’s Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, in Miami, Fla., to further develop this system.
Philips is incorporating its Spectral CT 7500 system and its Image-Guided Therapy System known as Azurion with FlexArm in the one-room solution. When not in use, each modality glides smoothly away from the patient table in a parking position, giving the interventional team more access to the patient.
For interventionalists, it enables efficient workflows without the need to move the patient from one imaging suite to another.
Spectral CT, also known as dual energy or dual source CT, is a computed tomography technique that uses two separate X-ray photon energy spectra, allowing the analysis of materials that have different attenuation properties at different energies.
“There has been a tremendous evolution in the image-guided therapy environment,” said Dr. Barry T. Katzen, founder and chief medical executive of Baptist’s Health’s Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute. “We are really excited about the merger and integration of these technologies in that it might allow us to look at the treatment of a number of diseases in very new and innovative ways, potentially offering new treatment opportunities and improving patient care. I am looking forward to investigating the possibilities of this promising innovation.”
Remote reading and reporting for radiology and cardiology: Radiologists have been able to read exams remotely for some time. But to gain access to the tools found in their PACS, they needed to install software on the remote workstation. Moreover, to obtain decent resolution, they needed special monitors.
Now, monitors have vastly improved – a 4K monitor for home use has higher resolution that some screens used in DI departments. And web technology has improved to the point that no special software has to be added to a remote workstation.
At RSNA 2021, Agfa HealthCare announced a new web technology for Enterprise Imaging that enable true remote diagnostic imaging workflows. “You can take your diagnostic workflow with you, using your own computer. Not just viewing images, but producing them, interpreting them with all the tools you need, collaborating on them, and making quality decisions around them, wherever you are. Your ability to work is no longer tied to the location of a workstation or client computer with the ‘right’ software on it.”
Agfa says that anyone who interacts with, produces, consumes or uses images can be empowered, with the same depth of workflow, use of artificial intelligence in workflows, etc. as from their in-hospital desktop computer or workstation.
The company’s FHIR-based, web technology has taken advantage of remote gaming technologies, which combines streaming and client technology in a way that delivers fluidity of interacting with the image.
“To handle ‘lag’, we turned to the gamer world. As one radiologist expressed: ‘Think of me as a high-performance gamer. When I am trying to use my sword, I don’t want to miss out on killing the monster in the game because of click lag, latency or problems with internet connection.’ So we put remote gaming technologies to work to deliver the fluidity needed for a comfortable, productive workflow.
Because it is cloud-ready, it can handle high or low latency and high or low bandwidth conditions, eliminating connectivity issues.”
Agfa says that each diagnostic or clinical specialty has its own needs, and that it is approaching them individually. The first to be launched is cardiology. Cardiology is an image-intense, point-of-care specialty: the cardiologist goes wherever the care is needed. But to work with images, create reports, collaborate with colleagues, the cardiologist needed to find an appropriate workstation.
“With our web technology for the remote diagnostic imaging workflow, the cardiologist can do all that from any computer. A barrier to mobility has been brought down, delivering deeper, intelligent workflows, accessible anywhere.” Agfa says it’s at work creating other specialty solutions for remote reading and reporting.
Artificial intelligence: Most of the major radiology vendors are incorporating AI technologies in their solutions. For its part, Canon Medical announced the launch of Altivity, a new AI innovation brand, that consolidates machine learning and deep learning technologies to deliver higher quality and value across the entire care pathway.
Canon Medical says it has been steadily redefining the role of AI in healthcare, starting with its Advanced intelligent Clear-IQ Engine (AiCE).
Initially developed for CT, this de-noising deep learning technology was soon deployed across MRI and PET/molecular imaging to help speed up scan times and improve image quality. Next came the launch of Automation Platform and AUTOStroke solution, both of which were designed to enhance clinical confidence and streamline workflows with the power of deep learning technology.
More recently, Canon Medical has transformed the ultrasound space with AI innovations, which enhances clinical workflows. One of the most time-consuming aspects of an ultrasound exam is the care that must be taken to ensure serial measurements are done in a standardized and highly reproducible way.
By leveraging the power of AI, Canon Medical has been able to automate these routine tasks to increase clinical productivity and reporting accuracy.