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The CT industry is firmly focused on the future. Companies are looking sometimes years ahead when setting a time frame for clinical applications and technological capabilities. That the future looks bright for CT was underscored at the RSNA show by
The CT industry is firmly focused on the future. Companies are looking sometimes years ahead when setting a time frame for clinical applications and technological capabilities. That the future looks bright for CT was underscored at the RSNA show by presentation of early clinical results in coronary angiography, pulmonary screening, and CT colonoscopy. Most, if not all, of these advanced clinical studies were accomplished with quad-slice scanners. Yet, ironically, vendors emphasized work-in-progress configurations supporting eight, 16, or even 32 slices.
Present technology clearly was not exciting enough for vendors to showcase-and for good reason. Four-slice scanners continue their reign at the superpremium end of CT, even though they have been around for more than two years now. Rather than going forward and building up the numbers in multislice, the CT industry has taken a step backward, or maybe laterally, releasing two- and four-slice devices designed to run on slower CT platforms. These scanners are intended to satisfy the needs of less daring or budget-constrained customers. Many ride atop what would otherwise be single-slice scanner families, providing customers with an upgrade path from a conventional single-slice scanner to multislice without the need to bring in a forklift.
This lack of forward progress has led vendors to wage much of their marketing battle with vaporware. Promises of many-slice scanners are being couched in delivery dates one or several years in the future. Usually, these promises depend on the development of technical solutions that are currently beyond the grasp of engineers. Among them are data acquisition systems and computing engines that can handle the flood of data that will come from advanced detectors. Making sense of the data in a reasonable time frame will be just as important and just as difficult to achieve as actually scanning megaslice images.
Research being done with the current generation of quad-slice scanners, however, is providing the means of reaching this future. And, although vendors are looking several years out, objectives that can be achieved within the next 12 months are being set as interim milestones. The ability to meet these goals could serve as a means for gauging whether long-term promises can be kept.