by Gus Iversen
, Editor in Chief | November 11, 2015
From the November 2015 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
According to Michelle Edler
, general manager of GE Healthcare’s X-ray Business, speech pathology exams using fluoroscopy are one usage that is on the rise. On the whole, however, her company does not see fluoroscopy experiencing the same kind of momentum they see in radiography. With digital X-ray, going from image intensifiers to flat panels has yielded tremendous workflow benefits, but Edler says she has not seen the same benefits in fluoroscopy. For end users who perform fluoroscopy exams (which could be feeding tube placement, gastrointestinal tract investigations, or other exams), GE manufactures the Precision 500D.
According to Craig, there are multiple moving parts behind the rise in fluoro market activity, one of which is the age of the U.S. install base. “I think it’s a combination of flat panel fluoro which is a technology jump, and the preponderance of old rooms that either cannot dose-track or are just mechanically worn out and need replacement,” she says.
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“About 98 percent of the configurations we sell are combo set-up, whether it’s an image intensifier or flat panel room, it’s a combo set up where the customer wants to be able to do radiographic work and fluoro work in the same room, and that allows them to keep their volumes higher and get a better return on investment,” says Craig. Niepel agrees that the staying power of fluoro has a lot to do with the versatility of today’s systems. “A lot of analysts thought it was going to die, but it really didn’t,” he says.
From tomography to tomosynthesis
Tomography was once a fairly common radiography exam. One might have ordered a tomography exam in order to evaluate the lungs, for example, but there were dose concerns associated with it, and eventually better modalities came along and rendered tomography somewhat obsolete. “CT has replaced a lot of that to where we don’t do it, we don’t even have a unit here any longer that can do it,” says Taber at Hennepin. With a CT scan the clinician gets higher image quality, a higher slice count and better dose monitoring. When a CT exam is not possible, tomography can still be justified, says Craig.
“One may argue it was abandoned too early,” says Dr. Bruce Kneeland
, section regular X-ray room, chief of the Musculoskeletal Imaging Division and professor of radiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. “But it was expensive, difficult to maintain and pretty high radiation.” Kneeland is one of the first practitioners utilizing a new kind of technology that has ascended, in a sense, from tomography and CT. As traditional tomography was a linear process, he is utilizing a new sweeping kind of tomography that moves 30 degrees around the patient, called digital X-ray tomosynthesis.