GE introduces wide-band wireless to avoid x-ray traffic jam

December 9, 2010

Wireless x-ray detectors have come into vogue and are now available from a half dozen vendors. They are being offered singly, as a digital upgrade for analog x-ray systems, for example, or as the core of portable and advanced fixed radiography systems. GE Healthcare is among those offering a portfolio of such choices. But GE is putting a twist on its wireless detector, dubbed the FlashPad, one that company execs say will prevent what could be a ticklish problem in the future. This potential problem stems from the success of digital radiography.

Wireless x-ray detectors have come into vogue and are now available from a half dozen vendors. They are being offered singly, as a digital upgrade for analog x-ray systems, for example, or as the core of portable and advanced fixed radiography systems. GE Healthcare is among those offering a portfolio of such choices. But GE is putting a twist on its wireless detector, dubbed the FlashPad, one that company execs say will prevent what could be a ticklish problem in the future. This potential problem stems from the success of digital radiography.

In GE’s booth at RSNA 2010, GE executives Gerald P. Schulte and Catherine J. Tabaka likened the surge in wireless communications traffic at hospitals to congested highways surrounding big cities at rush hour. With the huge files they capture and transmit, wireless x-ray detectors are the equivalent of trucks that can reduce already slowing traffic to a crawl. GE’s solution, built into its FlashPad detector, is ultrawideband technology.

“This makes sure that a point-to-point communication allows easy, fast, secure, and reliable transfer of images,” said Tabaka, GE’s chief marketing officer for x-ray healthcare systems.

Ultrawideband technology uses a direct link between a wireless detector and receiver in much the same way a mouse talks directly to a PC. Keeping the communications connection simple and direct ensures the bandwidth necessary to transmit large files, such as x-ray images, she said, and to handle the large volumes of images at modern hospitals.

Schulte, GE’s global x-ray marketing manager, noted that nearly a decade has passed since GE introduced its first-generation digital x-ray products. Many of these, he said, are still in clinical operation as the company moves now to this fifth-generation detector. GE is positioning the wireless FlashPad as a component within a new breed of portable x-ray systems and advanced fixed x-ray rooms, and also as part of a kit for upgrading analog systems to digital.

The detector itself features a design that provides up to 8% more coverage for key applications yet minimizes radiation dose to the patient. It delivers radiographs onboard the company’s high-end Discovery XR656 fixed-room system and as the DR imaging option for GE’s Proteus XR/a and Precision 500D, as well as serving as the digital heart of the portable Optima XR220 amx and Optima XR200 amx, which is pending FDA review.