AI is one of the most significant trends shaping DR’s future.
The move to DR from CR and conventional analog X-ray systems continues, but the industry is nearing the end of the transition cycle. The image quality and workflow advantages of DR are now benefiting most patients in both mature and emerging markets.
“The most significant new trend in the industry in this context is artificial intelligence applications that promise to improve clinical confidence and efficiency, and there is a lot of AI innovation happening specifically in the X-ray modality,” says Katelyn Nye, GE Healthcare’s global product manager, artificial intelligence & analytics, X-ray. “Coupled with that, we see patient experience becoming a much higher priority than before. This is driving vendors to provide more automation and ergonomic design in the X-ray room.”
Guillermo Sander, director of marketing, digital radiography for Konica Minolta Healthcare, says as DR matures, there’s been an increase in demand for better image quality and more information from the X-ray system. This drive underscores the need for AI in X-ray.
“As image quality increases, the volume of information contained in an X-ray will also increase,” Sander says. “Better image quality means radiologists can see more and do more with DR. Radiologists will be able to use advanced image processing and AI algorithms to further interrogate the digital X-ray image and see things in ways they’ve never seen before when using radiography.” Therefore, AI will give clinicians the extra information from X-ray images they need to make accurate diagnoses and therapeutic decisions.
Sarah Verna, Carestream’s worldwide marketing manager for Global X-ray Solutions, says the aging population will drive greater demand for medical imaging, and diagnostic medical imaging is moving from hospitals to outpatient centers.
“Manufacturers need to establish a larger distribution channel to reach customers outside the traditional hospital environment,” Verna says. “Today, patients are more empowered. As medical consumerism grows, manufacturers must produce equipment that incorporates leading-edge technology and prioritizes patient satisfaction.”
Additionally, Verna sees the imaging industry moving toward a simplified look and feel for X-ray rooms with an eye on industrial design. “More features and functionality are moving into mid- and low-tier systems, similar to the car industry where end users are expecting capabilities that were once a premium feature,” she says. “Additional enhancements to mobile units include larger display screens as well as collapsible columns that allow full line of sight while driving and positioning these systems.”
Here’s a look at the latest DR systems:
GE Healthcare GE Healthcare’s newest DR equipment features the new Helix advanced image processing and the high-resolution FlashPad HD detectors.
“We’ve quadrupled the amount of information our detectors capture—reaching 100-micron pixel resolution,” Nye says. “The Helix image processing delivers up to a 40% increase in detection of fine structures. This matters, for example, in the detection of subtle wrist fractures that can be missed. And while increasing the resolution, we refuse to compromise on dose, delivering as little as half the dose of CR or alternative flat-panel detectors of lower [detective quantum efficiency].”
Helix and FlashPad HD are powering GE’s Discovery XR656 HD, Optima XR646 HD DR systems, as well as the Optima XR240amx portable X-ray. Additionally, at RSNA 2018, the company announced the Critical Care Suite, an AI application embedded in a mobile X-ray device designed to identify critical conditions such as pneumothorax and enable PACS worklist notifications for the radiologist.
“The AI algorithm runs on the X-ray device, our Optima XR240amx portable, and does not need cloud access to run. It automatically runs within seconds at the bedside of the patient and sends an image flag and secondary [DICOM image file] to PACS when a pneumothorax is detected,” Nye says. “Critical Care Suite is 510k pending at US FDA.”
Critical Care Suite is the result of GE Healthcare’s collaboration with four different research partners across three countries, from concept development to the annotation of images that were used to train its deep learning algorithms.
Konica Minolta Healthcare Konica Minolta’s new Dynamic Digital Radiography (DDR) technology lets clinicians use a conventional digital X-ray system to capture motion so they can view anatomical structures relative to physiological changes and time.
“In thoracic and pulmonary imaging, DDR provides a full view of chest, lung, and organ movement during the respiratory cycle,” Sander says. “With X-ray that captures motion, clinicians