GE Healthcare announced today a $300 million investment in low radiation dose technology, bringing the total to $800 million since 2000. GE made the announcement at the RSNA 2011 trade show in Chicago, the largest annual radiology exhibition in the world.
Computed Tomography imaging, or CT, has quickly grown into one of the most powerful diagnostic tools. CT’s high-resolution images are being widely used in emergencies to detect trauma and acute injuries, in oncology as a diagnosis and treatment progress tracking tool, and in heart medicine.
But there has been a tradeoff between the outstanding and needed image clarity delivered by CT for accurate diagnosis and low patient exposure to radiation.
GE has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in developing technology and software that would start chipping away at this tradeoff and produce clearer images at a lower dose. Today, GE’s CT systems are equipped with a variety of advanced technologies and applications that help physicians obtain the right image at the right time and at the right dose.
One area the company has been focusing on is called image reconstruction technologies. These technologies apply advanced computing and sophisticated statistical modeling to raw image data gathered by the scanner.
Data gathered at low radiation levels contain a lot of noise and the images are fuzzy. It’s like listening to a crackling broadcast from a distant radio station. GE’s software works like a series of increasingly finer tuners that filter out the noise and leave the clear message to emerge.
Compared to FBP, these Veo images illustrate more small order arteries and a sharper depiction of all the arteries. Scan protocol: 100 – 192 mAs, 120 kVp Slice Thickness: 0.625 mm. FBP reconstruction (left), Veo reconstruction (right).
In 2008, GE first introduced Adaptive Statistical Reconstruction, or ASiR, which helped radiologists to maintain high image clarity while reducing dose to substantially lower levels*.
GE’s new technology, called Veo, builds on ASiR by adding powerful modeling tools to its data analysis strengths. It takes imaging to a new level, delivering high quality imaging at previously unattainable low dose levels*.
Veo has already been in use in facilities across Europe and Asia for months and is now commercially available in the US. Current Veo users are reporting many CT exams being done at under one millisievert (mSv). According to Dr. William Schuman, Vice Chairman of the Department of Radiology at the University of Washington, such high quality sub-mSv CT exams have “been in many ways seen as CT’s Holy Grail.”
Both Veo and ASiR work in conjunction with GE’s healthymagination-qualified Discovery* CT750HD, the world’s first high-definition CT scanner when it was launched in 2009.
But the low-dose approach goes beyond technology. GE also focuses on additional services, additional training, and additional education programs. GE’s novel dose reporting solution, called DoseWatch, for example, helps physicians analyze patient exposure over time. GE also offers free webinars where expert radiologists educate their peers on the use of low-dose radiation.
* In clinical practice, the use of ASiR or Veo may reduce CT patient dose depending on the clinical task, patient size, anatomical location and clinical practice. A consultation with a radiologist and a physicist should be made to determine the appropriate dose to obtain diagnostic image quality for the particular clinical task.