Cardiac software promises boost in cardiac CT productivity

March 20, 2006

New software from GE Healthcare can cut the average time needed to read a coronary CT angiogram to less than five minutes. Early use at Tennessee Heart and Vascular of the CardIQ Xpress, unveiled March 13 at the American College of Cardiology conference, resulted in physician reviews of 10 to 12 cardiac CTAs per hour.

New software from GE Healthcare can cut the average time needed to read a coronary CT angiogram to less than five minutes. Early use at Tennessee Heart and Vascular of the CardIQ Xpress, unveiled March 13 at the American College of Cardiology conference, resulted in physician reviews of 10 to 12 cardiac CTAs per hour.

The upgrade to a CardIQ package previously released by GE allows physicians to customize the way they read cardiac CT images, according to Brian J. Duchinsky, global general manager for GE's CT business. Some may want to look at axial images and volume renderings together. Others may want to look just at maximum intensity projections or some other combination of images.

"Xpress provides a number of options for streamlining the process, so you can really crank out your cases in a relatively short time frame," Duchinsky said.

CardIQ Xpress, which runs on GE's Advantage Windows workstation, is scheduled to begin shipping in the next several weeks. It can be purchased as part of a package deal that includes the company's 64-slice LightSpeed VCT, separately as a stand-alone postprocessing solution, or as an upgrade to installed versions of CardIQ. Prices vary depending on the deal, but the average is about $30,000.

More than anything, buyers will be motivated by their need to increase throughput, Duchinsky said.

"If you are dabbling in cardiac CT and you're just doing a few cases, what we offered before will probably be sufficient, from a workflow standpoint," he said. "But if you are trying to do six to 10 or 12 or 15 cases an hour, as we have people doing with the VCT, you need this package."

Underlying its potential for increased productivity are capabilities such as the oblique review tool, which uses a dual-screen monitor to display views of the coronary vessels from opposing angles. This allows rapid review of suspicious areas.

The software comes equipped with several capabilities that complement the oblique review tool. Save State simplifies the processing of CT angiography data by allowing current analyses to be saved in a single mouse click for future review. This includes Vessel Analysis tracking, 3D tree and heart, angiographic view, and 4D beating heart movies.

Cardiac Reformat is designed for dynamic study review. This tool, which is intended to help select the most appropriate cardiac phase for coronary artery review, allows physicians to examine individual coronaries at different phases in the cardiac cycle.

"It's very easy to do on the fly, and it makes sure you get the best quality possible out of the postprocessed image," said Gene Saragnese, vice president and general manager of GE global molecular imaging and CT.

CardIQ Xpress includes tools that support cardiac evaluations. These calculate left ventricular ejection fraction and volume, interactively assist in reviewing coronary vessel,; and perform 3D reconstructions according to predefined layouts.

The development of CardIQ reflects GE's assessment of a significant shift in cardiac CT.

"We are seeing cardiovascular and coronary CT imaging moving from being the exception to being more of the rule," Saragnese said. "The tools we are producing are designed to make these procedures and reads quick, efficient, and accurate, and we think that is required for cardiology as well as radiology."