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Portable DR detectors threaten to elbow CR from center stage

Portable DR detectors threaten to elbow CR from center stage

Wireless detectors are taking point position in radiology’s effort to turn analog radiography into digital radiography. Their wired predecessors laid the groundwork, finding workflow advantages over computed radiography. Now, free of the cables that constrained their use, battery-powered wireless versions promise to boost productivity further through ease of use and flexibility in applications.

They are part of a vast shift in technology not just in medicine, but in all kinds of electronics. From iPhones, BlackBerrys, and Droids to cable-free PC printers, the world has gone wireless.

For radiology, they can be a game changer. The untethered digital panel, with its transmitter and battery, trumps both CR and conventional DR. It combines the principal advantages of CR—turning analog units into digital ones that, like CR plates, can be easily positioned and used for table and upright buckys—while avoiding the time delay of having to walk CR plates to and feed them into a reader.

This is the most obvious application: when it’s installed instead of, or in place of, CR to upgrade analog radiography systems. Alternatively, these panels can be embedded in brand new radiography suites or retrofitted into portable x-ray units. Portable detectors built into mobile x-ray systems take DR to the patient bedside and into the emergency department, the operating room, and the ICU.

Memorial Medical Center, a teaching hospital Level One trauma center and regional burn center with about 500 beds in Springfield, IL, has been using wireless DR since last November. It now has wireless panels in four of its emergency rooms, in a general radiography suite, an outpatient facility, and onboard portable units used throughout the hospitals and occasionally in the operating room. More are on order for use in the OR, but the surgeons, according to Marjorie Calvetti, medical imaging director at Memorial Medical Center, are getting antsy.

“We tell them they are budgeted and they’re coming,” Calvetti said. “But they keep asking.”

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