by Brendon Nafziger
, DOTmed News Associate Editor | December 10, 2009
Amid worries over high medical radiation exposure, vendors are looking to software and gadgets that help keep images sharp, and patients and radiologists safe. Nowhere was this more in evidence than at last week's annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago, where companies touted advances slashing radiation dosage by 50 to 80 percent for some CT and X-ray procedures.
"What the vendors are moving toward are technologies with...[software] reconstructions," Dominic Smith, vice president of global marketing for CT and nuclear medicine at Philips Healthcare, told DOTmed News at the show.
Philips' entry in the field is iDose, technology Philips expects to ship with its flagship CT solution Brilliance CT by the second half of next year. "It's a reconstruction technique to reduce the dose by 80 percent, particularly in the body, where you have a lot of high organ dose," Smith explained.
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Smith said with iDose, a procedure that would typically deliver 6 to 8 millisieverts of radiation now only gives 0.9 mSv.
Another program, called Step and Shoot Complete, expands Philips' Step and Shoot Cardiac, their version of the CT technique first introduced at RSNA 2006.
"In things like Step and Shoot Complete, using our technology reduces the dose but maintains or improves image quality," said Smith.
The new technology allows reduced-dose imaging of the chest, thorax and lung using the step and shoot method, and can be applied to anyone whose torso is 19.7 inches (50 centimeters) or bigger.
But iDose and Step and Shoot weren't Philips' only entries in the low-dose stakes. Many Philips employees roaming their sprawling booth in the North Hall sported lapel-pin-like badges that turned out to be another dose-conscious item: DoseAware. These badges monitor radiation exposure in real-time and project the results onto a screen. Philips says DoseAware is primarily meant for radiologists, nurses and radiologic techs performing interventional procedures to know exactly how much radiation they're getting as they move around the room, thereby allowing them to limit their exposure. Philips hopes DoseAware will prove a useful complement to the radiation-monitoring badges rads routinely wear, but which only give monthly, not real-time, totals.
Putting it in Context
"X-rays penetrate almost anything but all cause harm to human tissue," said Donald Barry, Ph.D., X-ray product manager of ContextVision, which is in the business of making dose-reduction technology. "The higher the dose, the more harm to human tissue."