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The arrival of new digital x-ray technology was evident at the December RSNA meeting as many vendors displayed digital radiography systems as commercial products for the first time. Established multimodality vendors showcased digital detectors as part of
The arrival of new digital x-ray technology was evident at the December RSNA meeting as many vendors displayed digital radiography systems as commercial products for the first time. Established multimodality vendors showcased digital detectors as part of integrated x-ray systems, while smaller companies came out of the woodwork with new solutions designed to bring radiologys oldest modality into the digital age.
Digital x-ray may be ready to emerge from its development phase, but now comes the hard part: persuading hospitals and clinicians to convert to digital. Some market watchers are concerned that the high price tags of the new systems will limit sales. Vendors claim that digital x-ray will enable radiology departments to operate more efficiently with less equipment, but the fact remains that the new digital systems in some cases cost three times as much as the analog units they are designed to replace.
There may also be some market confusion caused by the plethora of different technologies being used to digitize x-rays. The new approaches include amorphous silicon, amorphous selenium, storage phosphor, and CCDs. Even newer digitization methods such as complementary metal-oxide semiconductors (CMOS) are beginning to appear. To add to the confusion, vendors are trying to differentiate their products by highlighting features such as detective quantum efficiency (DQE), modulation transfer function (MTF), direct versus indirect conversion, and image stitching (or lack of same).
Ultimately, the success of digital x-ray will depend less on such arcane technical characteristics and more on whether hospitals and physicians offices can wring enough productivity from the new systems to justify their higher prices. The next few years should prove critical as companies wait to see whether their investments in digital technology are rewarded with increased equipment sales.