CR vs. DR detectors – and the inexorable march of progress

by Lee Nelson, Contributing Reporter | November 05, 2015
From the November 2015 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine



Tom Spees

Imaging processing algorithms and GUIs
One factor that differentiates one DR detector from another is the image processing algorithm that is loaded onto them. This algorithm is each OEM’s “secret sauce,” says Spees. It takes the raw data from the X-ray bombardment and creates the initial image. Think of an iPhone and Android phone as an analogy — it’s the software that makes each smart phone “smart.” DR vendors also add a second level of software that lets the user, at the workstation, manipulate and fine-tune the image even more. This is the GUI, or graphical user interface. This can be modified by the end user so the baseline image for a chest X-ray, for example, is always the same, and the way the radiologist prefers. Then any indications or anomalies are easier for the radiologist to see.
Who’s who on the OEM side?
The manufacturing process that creates a DR detector is sophisticated and expensive. That’s why only a handful of companies worldwide have made the investment to be in the detector business. According to Rick Colbeth, general manager and vice president of imaging products for Varian, his company has the largest portfolio of flat-panel detectors, covering the full range of X-ray imaging modalities, not just digital radiography (DR). In radiography, all their detectors are DR — they make no CRs. Varian does not sell direct to the end user. They customize each detector to order, so what each vendor sells is unique.
Another leading supplier of DR detectors is Trixell, headquartered in France. It’s a joint venture among Thales, Siemens and Philips, with Thales owning a majority interest. Thales is a leading manufacturer of electronic devices, particularly image intensifiers, and this joint venture was a natural fit for the company. Richardson Electronics, for one, buys its detectors from Trixell. A third OEM that private labels DR detectors is Vieworks from South Korea. Like the others, it adds custom features to the detectors to create a proprietary product.

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