Vendors speed workflow with XR system enhancements

November 2, 2005

Manufacturers exhibiting at this year's RSNA meeting plan to upgrade x-ray's image, in more ways than one. With the transition from film to digital now in full swing, engineers are building upon existing platforms to increase ease of use, flexibility in applications, and productivity. Enhancements scheduled for the exhibit floor address portability and multifunctionality, as well as improved workflow.

Manufacturers exhibiting at this year's RSNA meeting plan to upgrade x-ray's image, in more ways than one. With the transition from film to digital now in full swing, engineers are building upon existing platforms to increase ease of use, flexibility in applications, and productivity. Enhancements scheduled for the exhibit floor address portability and multifunctionality, as well as improved workflow.

The meeting will serve as a coming out party for Kodak's DR 7500, which was shown last year as a work-in-progress but is scheduled to begin shipping before the start of the meeting. The dual-detector digital radiography platform offers flexibility through a separate x-ray table and vertical bucky that can be purchased separately or together.

"A facility can start with a smaller room and scale up as it grows or volumes increase," said Helen Titus, manager of global marketing, digital capture systems, for Kodak's Health Group.

Three-axis movement accommodates rotation, swing, and tilt.

Alignment is maintained automatically between detector and the ceiling-suspended x-ray tube. The DR 7500 will be joined by Kodak's latest work-in-progress, the DirectView DR 3000, a motorized U-arm floor system with a multipurpose single detector that circles the patient. It enables budget-conscious facilities such as imaging centers, smaller hospitals, and orthopedic centers to offer a variety of radiographic procedures.

The DirectView CR Portable Long-Length imaging system will round out Kodak's lineup. This portable accessory is designed to capture digital images of long anatomic regions with patients in the supine or upright position. Kodak will also feature the DirectView CR 975 system, a next-generation multicassette product that features drop-and-go workflow to increase productivity, processing up to 100 cassettes an hour.

Toshiba has been building on its DR line, planning enhancements to last year's products, said Don Volz, director of the company's x-ray/vascular business unit. In 2004, Toshiba garnered substantial attention with its Kalare, a digital universal radiography/fluoroscopy table configuration that boasts a "one system" approach to handle a diverse patient load and support basic exams. Among them are GI studies, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, myelography, and venography, as well as some angiographic procedures.

"We're showing an integrated product with DR and the Kalare to make a room completely digital and support the high throughput that the DR panel provides," Volz said.

Like Toshiba, Canon will focus on DR, featuring a range of portable digital technologies. Among them is the CXDI-40G, a system with high sensitivity designed for general radiographic applications. The CXDI-50G is the largest portable DR system on the market. When integrated with a portable x-ray unit, it can be used at multiple locations such as the emergency room, the intensive care unit, or the bedside.

"What we'll be highlighting is our ability to integrate with multiple vendors," said Jose Alvarez, Canon marketing specialist.

Philips Medical System's signature x-ray product, DigitalDiagnost, will include automatic image stitching for long leg and spine images and a multipurpose single detector mounted on a movable column.

Philips' PCR Eleva combines computed radiography reader technology with an intuitive user interface and a processing engine that generates images at the site of data acquisition. In mobile radiography, Philips will feature the Practix Convenio, a motorized x-ray system with a 30-kW x-ray generator optimized for use at the patient's bedside.

In the surgical arena, Philips will present the BV Endura and BV Pulsera mobile C-arm systems, which address mobile fluoroscopy imaging applications. The systems are equipped with SmartVision, providing a digital imaging chain that includes 1K x 1K imaging and advanced postprocessing algorithms.

In fluoroscopy, Philips' Eleva technology increases efficiency by adapting to users' preferences and workflow. The line, including the MultiDiagnost Eleva FD, a multipurpose system with flat detector and an isocentric 180 degrees C-arm rotation, will offer 3D angiography and 3D soft-tissue imaging.

Siemens will feature systems that promise increased productivity and advanced applications, particularly its AXIOM Aristos FX and the AXIOM Multix M. The FX supports thoracic and extremity scans, as well as emergency, trauma, and pediatric applications. The Multix M portable flat-panel detector performs general radiographic applications on and off the table and in the standing position.

Last year, Agfa launched a new line of CR digitizers, including the CR 75.0, a high-throughput centralized CR system for general radiography and high-resolution applications, featuring a drop-and-go buffer that enhances workflow. At this year's RSNA meeting, the company will present the CRDX-S, an in-room, high-throughput CR system that enables a DR-like workflow. Using Agfa's patented needle phosphor storage, which uses cesium iodide crystals, the new product offers 40% DQE improvement over standard CR.

"You get the resolution and quantum efficiency of the highest resolution DR plate," said Ray Russell, Agfa's executive director of marketing.

In the CR arena, Agfa will show Musica 2, its second-generation image processing algorithm. Musica 1, the only 16-bit image processing algorithm on the market, set a new standard in the industry for postprocessing, according to the company. The next generation will add a new level of sophistication.

Fujifilm Medical Systems introduced two works-in-progress last year as part of its SpeedSuite CR series: FCR Velocity-T for table exams and Velocity-U for chest and other upright exams. Both featured the company's proprietary fast HD LineScan Technology. This year, Fuji will extend its cassette-based technologies at the top and bottom tiers, said John Strauss, director of marketing for imaging systems.

GE Healthcare showed its Revolution XR/d, the latest version of its flat-detector fixed radiography system at the 2004 RSNA meeting. This year, it will unveil further enhancements to this product, as well as a new portable system, said Dave Widmann, general manager of GE's x-ray business.

Dan Harvey is a contributing editor for Diagnostic Imaging.