Special report: CR and DR battle updates

by Carol Ko, Staff Writer | February 15, 2013
International Day of Radiology 2012
From the January/February 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Yet, with the price slashing in the DR sector over the past few years, even smaller non-hospital facilities with significant traffic are beginning to adopt DR and that shift is being felt throughout the industry. “Right now as a dealer, 70 percent of our volume last year was still CR. This year it’s probably going to be 60 to 50 percent — overall there’s a stronger and stronger trend toward DR,” says Yvan Degomme, owner of Proximus Medical, a refurbishing company that sells both CR and DR machines.

One strong proponent of DR is Bill Broaddus, director of radiology at Central Baptist Hospital, who was so satisfied with his Siemens DR Multix M machines that his hospital was the first in the U.S. to buy Siemen's wireless Ysio model in 2008. "It enabled the staff to be more efficient,” he says. “They didn't have to take the CR plate, go back to another room, put it in the reader, and electronically take the image off the plate." Broaddus hasn't had to add staff since 2003, and estimates that his department's workflow became 20 to 40 percent faster thanks to going DR.

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Though DR offers many improvements in workflow, there are also a few specialized areas in which CR still dominates. For example, long-length imaging still presents a challenge for DR X-rays, most of which have standard-sized detectors that can’t capture the full length of the body. Because CR cassettes come in different lengths with multiple plates, technicians are able to take the X-ray in one shot by overlapping several plates together. “With DR detectors, there’s no way to overlap imaging plates or detectors ,so you have to take two, three, or in some cases, five exposures for one long length image compared to CR, which is one image,” explains Rob Fabrizio, director of marketing and product development of the digital X-ray division at Fujifilm. “In between exposures, the patient may have moved and the images may not be lined up.”

The same goes for scoliosis exams, which require X-rays that span the full length of the spine. “You’re capturing from maybe from the floor to their hips, or from their neck to their waist,” says Fabrizio. “Because all scoliosis exams are pediatric, pediatricians are especially concerned with not exposing their patients, who are usually 15 and under, to too much dose.”

But this begs an obvious question: won’t DR quickly catch up with the few areas in which CR still holds an edge? Although a number of OEMs including Fujifilm, Konica Minolta and Shimadzu offer DR auto-stitching technology to facilitate wide-range images, it hasn’t cannibalized the CR market yet, according to Fabrizio. “Hospitals that do frequent scoliosis exams prefer CR, hands down,” he says. “There’s a higher than expected demand for CR cassettes – we’ve sold a lot of scoliosis cassettes over the years and expected that number to drop off with DR. We’re seeing the demand for the CR stitching starting to go down, but not as much as expected.”

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