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What you may have missed at AHRA 2013

by Loren Bonner, DOTmed News Online Editor | August 01, 2013
AHRA 2013, which wrapped up on Wednesday in Minneapolis, was a jampacked conference full of educational sessions, products from over 150 vendors, and plenty of opportunities for roughly 1,000 participants to network and reconnect with old friends and colleagues. A new addition this year that garnered a lot of buzz was the Physician Track — a full day of presentations and discussions led by physicians who have been active in trying to solve many of the challenges medical imaging is up against.

Here's what DOTmed News took away from the show.

1. Radiation dose — it's not just CT we're concerned about.

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Greg Cretella from Fujifilm Medical Systems USA told attendees at the exhibitor sponsored symposium on Tuesday morning that facilities need to tell patients how they are reducing dose during exams. This is critical in today's health care environment, which is driven by outcomes and patient satisfaction.

As X-ray technology shifts away from analog film, almost all vendors give technologists tools to either lower, monitor, or record radiation dose for digital X-ray. Back in 2011, the Image Gently campaign, with support from the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, urged vendors to adopt an international standard for radiation exposure, called the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard. On the exhibit floor, vendors at AHRA made it a point to announce that their digital X-ray products now comply with this new standard. On a console, technologists are given a number that tells them how far they have deviated or moved toward the standard dose for the particular case. Agfa HealthCare complements this standardized exposure index with a color-coded exposure bar (red, yellow or green) in its NX-Multi-Modality workstation. George Curley told DOTmed News that this helps technologists verify the IEC exposure in a simple, visual way.

After image acquisition, the new norm is also sending out a radiation dose structured report along with the PACS.

GE Healthcare's booth was devoted almost entirely to its dose management solutions, which not only includes DoseWatch software but also a personalized, strategic road map for facilities led by GE medical physicists to lower dose on all modalities.

Tomosynthesis continues to be the hot new imaging modality for mammography screening — and it was brought up several times during the show. Besides not yet being reimbursed by Medicare or private payors, another major caveat for the 3-D imaging system is the fact that it emits twice as much radiation as a normal mammogram. Hologic, the maker of tomosynthesis, has come up with one solution to address this: a product called C-View 2D imaging software, which was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It eliminates the 2-D exposure all together, which has been a part of a tomosynthesis exam, by generating 2-D images from 3-D. Certainly, Hologic will be working on more ways to reduce dose with tomosynthesis.

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