GE Healthcare seeks better image quality, lower dose

November 1, 2008

Our vision for the future of CT here at GE Healthcare revolves around one central question. If clinicians struggle to see anatomy or pathology, how can they make a confident diagnosis?

Our vision for the future of CT here at GE Healthcare revolves around one central question. If clinicians struggle to see anatomy or pathology, how can they make a confident diagnosis?

While today's coverage and temporal resolution in CT are more than adequate to handle most CT exams (80% are of the head, abdomen, or pelvis), better image quality and lower dose both benefit the patients undergoing these procedures.

Using feedback from our clinical partners around the world, our engineers have created an entirely new imaging system, one that powers our latest innovation, the LightSpeed CT750 HD. One of the key innovations in this scanner is the Gemstone detector, containing the first advancement to CT scintillators in 20 years. Built using garnet gemstones, this scintillator advances primary speed and afterglow performance, enabling resolution increases of up to 33% through the body and up to 47% in cardiac imaging over today's industry standard. The high-definition image quality generated by the LightSpeed CT750 HD improves soft-tissue contrast, thereby aiding the ability to visualize small structures.

In cardiac imaging, high definition reduces calcium blooming, enhances in-stent visualization, and more accurately quantifies stenosis. Gemstone technology is an example of the investment we are making in research and development so that physicians can see more of the diagnostic landscape staring at them on the screen. It also reflects our philosophy that to know more of the diagnostic landscape requires more than just adding slices to a CT scanner. Another offshoot of this philosophy and the resulting technology is our research into gemstone spectral imaging. This single-source spectral imaging technology shows promise for meaningful material discrimination while reducing such common problems as beam hardening and metal artifacts that impede radiologists today.

Our approach to LightSpeed CT750 HD spectral imaging registers images acquired using two energies at a speed 165 times faster than a dual-source CT. In addition, clinicians benefit from a 2.5 times increase in views acquired per rotation. This improves resolution and image quality across the entire field-of-view.

Knowing more comes in part from the ability to extend our coverage range for functional assessment with technologies that allow data to be captured over an area as wide as 312.5 mm. This extended-range 4D CTA information is important for support of noninvasive angiography.

While knowing more is a central focus of our R&D, and a critical component of our approach to the future of CT, acting on that knowledge without addressing radiation dose would cause us to miss one of our prime objectives: maintaining GE's position as the leader in low-dose technologies. We want our customers to not only see their images better, but to do so with a lower radiation dose. Quite simply, minimizing radiation exposure to patients is the responsible thing to do. Yet it has typically come at the cost of image quality. This is not the case with the LightSpeed CT750 HD, as the technology underlying this system improves image quality while reducing dose up to 50% across the entire body.

Better visualization will help clinicians, who receive a further boost from postprocessing technologies that segment or isolate structures, quantitatively measure these structures, and provide further characterizations to allow better diagnoses.

Seeing more of the anatomy, knowing more of the diagnostic landscape, and performing all of this with less dose is the GE CT vision and our technology development priority.

Mr. Saragnese is vice president and general manager of Global CT and Molecular Imaging for GE Healthcare.