New Tech Is Rare Tech

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Full disclosure: I didn’t come close to visiting every booth in the three halls that made up the exhibits at the 98th meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. Nonetheless, in my limited experience (and aside from the always-promising WIPs)…it appeared that there was a great deal of backfilling (ie, lower-tech and lower-cost versions of higher-tech modalities), redesigned housing, and new software, but not very many new technologies introduced.

For instance, Toshiba showed a redesigned 1.5T Titan with a soothing blue LED light ring around a wider gantry and a new user interface (m-Power) that guides the user through the process of registration, scanning, and post processing. Suresh Narayan, PhD, MBA, senior manager, MR, also touted a new 16-element flexible, multi-purpose coil for the 1.5T that eliminates the need for separate wrist, ankle, knee and shoulder coils and can be used in pediatrics. What appeared to create the biggest stir in the Toshiba booth was an MR-safe gurney that goes from ambulance to magnet with no need to reposition the patient. Patient benefits are pain and brain saved; department workflow continues uninterrupted.

One bona fide new technology encountered was Siemens’ new retrofitted detector technology for its MAMMOMAT® Inspiration Prime Edition mammography system, intended to reduce exposure by 30%. The company replaced the scatter radiation grid (standard on digital detectors for mammography) with a new algorithm that identifies and corrects scatter-causing structures. In removing the scatter grid (which inevitably absorbs some of the primary radiation), Siemens eliminates the need to correct for that by increasing dose, thereby enabling dose reduction on the order of an estimated 30%. “Every year there is renewed talk about whether to bring patients back each year and expose them to radiation,” notes product manager Jennifer Okken. “This addresses that concern.”

You really didn’t expect to see a 640-slice CT scanner this year, did you?