GE seeks industry support for CT injector standard

October 6, 2006

Most CT equipment forces technologists to turn into contortionists when techs administer CT contrast. With one hand on the scanner console and the other on the power injector key pad, the tech attempts to trigger the scan and injection simultaneously. Most of the time it works, but the process could be a lot easier and more productive.

Most CT equipment forces technologists to turn into contortionists when techs administer CT contrast. With one hand on the scanner console and the other on the power injector key pad, the tech attempts to trigger the scan and injection simultaneously. Most of the time it works, but the process could be a lot easier and more productive.

Industry has come up with a simple standard for connecting the two devices that supports a physical connection and software for triggering the scan and injection with a single button push on the CT console. This standard, however, falls short of what could be accomplished, and some companies, such as GE Healthcare, are holding out for more progress before committing R&D resources to develop an interface.

Brian Duchinsky, general manager of the CT business for GE Healthcare, wants a standard like DICOM, which guides the exchange of information among modalities and imaging peripherals.

A CT injector standard at this level would harmonize the protocol for the injection and scan, he said. It would also support the transfer of information, such as the time of injection, rate, and dose, gathered by the injector to the scanner, so that these data could be added to the patient record.

"This would promote consistency among exams and boost productivity," Duchinsky said.

For a time this summer, it looked like Duchinsky would get what he wanted. A nonprofit standards group, called Controller Area Network (CAN), was pulling vendors from both camps together to discuss how such a high-level standard might be developed.

The group, through its CiA (CAN in Automation) 425 Committee, developed the Level 1 standard that supports cabling CT systems and injectors together. Duchinsky and GE CT product development specialist Holly McDaniel expected the committee to have a more sophisticated solution after a mid-August meeting, but the meeting did not live up to expectations.

"The basic upshot is that the committee hasn't decided anything," McDaniel said.

Medrad may hold the key to future progress. A search of patents regarding CT contrast injection found that Medrad holds most of this intellectual property: 37 of 50 patents.

The injector company is believed to be in discussions with the CAN committee regarding licenses for some of its intellectual property. (Medrad was not immediately available to comment for this story.) GE executives are looking forward to the outcome of a scheduled December meeting.

"If there hasn't been an agreement by then, it may be that vendors will make the decision to develop something proprietary, which we believe will not be good," McDaniel said.

This remedy would involve licensing and cross licensing agreements, resulting in costs that will have to be passed on to customers, she said.