Demand pushes MRI wait up to a year (Canada)


Waits for MRI scans in Ontario - used to diagnose multiple sclerosis, cancer, and chronic back pain - are startlingly long, with at least one hospital reporting a queue of almost one year.

The province's targeted waiting time for the lowest priority scan - such as those with chronic back or knee pain - is 28 days. But the waiting time is 100 days, which means 90 per cent of all patients receive their scan within that time period, with the remaining 10 per cent waiting longer.

The range in waits throughout the province is dramatic: At Bluewater Health in Sarnia, Ont., 90 per cent of patients had their scans done within 17 days. At The Ottawa Hospital, which has the longest waiting times, that number is 360.

This is according to data from October to December, 2008, the latest available.

source: Globe and Mail


MRI Accidents Report 270% Increase Over 4 Years. Available Solutions Must Be Deployed

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 2008 saw a 30% increase in the number of reported MRI accidents. In the four years following 2004, the FDA's MAUDE database catalogues a 270% increase in MRI accidents. But what may be even more troubling than the dramatic increase in reported accidents are the numbers that aren't included in the FDA's data.

The extreme power of the magnets used for MRI imaging (typically tens-of-thousands of times greater than our exposure to the Earth's own magnetic field) can readily 'pull' ferromagnetic materials to the scanner, sometimes with lethal results. These types of accidents, frequently referred to as 'projectile' or 'missile' accidents, are the most common MRI mishap and yet comprise a slim minority of the FDA's accident reports.

source: Medical News Today


GE Healthcare Installs First Series of Breakthrough Molecular Imaging Scanners Globally

WAUKESHA, Wis.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--GE Healthcare, a unit of General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), announced the global installation of the new DiscoveryTM PET/CT 600-series scanners, designed to help enable earlier detection and accurate monitoring of disease combined with the latest advancements in molecular imaging technology to explore the development of future applications. The first clinical installs will be completed at Miami Baptist Hospital in Florida, University Hospital of Bichat in Paris, France, Queensland X-Ray at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina, and Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

“This first set of installations is a big step forward in the diagnosis and monitoring of disease,” said Terri Bresenham, newly appointed vice president and general manager of the company’s global Molecular Imaging business. “Partnering with clinics in the United States, Europe and the Asia/Pacific Region, we will be able to reach more patients globally with the latest advancements in oncology, neurology, and cardiovascular technologies.”

The new PET/CT platform, from GE Healthcare, was built for physicians and molecular imaging researchers in mind, based on their need for more power to explore the potential of PET/CT imaging that includes better PET quantitative accuracy. This new line of PET/CT scanners, combine advanced molecular imaging tools with the large coverage low dose Volume CT helping allow for earlier diagnosis, more accurate tumor location and better assessment of how a patient is responding to cancer treatment. Although mostly for use in oncology, PET/CT can also be used for assisting the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease and neurological conditions.

source: BusinessWire


Toshiba Introduces the Aquilion Premium

TUSTIN, California — February 12, 2009 — Toshiba America Medical Systems, Inc. announced the launch of the Aquilion® Premium CT system. The Aquilion Premium rounds out the company's CT portfolio to include a product with the capability to cover up to 8 cm in a single rotation. This system is also field-upgradeable to an Aquilion ONE.

"As part of our continued commitment to providing the right technology mix for the medical community, our customers have asked for a system that allows them to easily upgrade to the Aquilion ONE," said Doug Ryan, senior director, CT Business Unit. "Just as we developed upgrade paths with our Aquilion 8-detector row and 32-detector row products, we are providing the same consumer focused capability with the Aquilion Premium product."

Because the system is field-upgradeable to an Aquilion ONE, this product enables the medical community to have access to advanced technology today, while allowing physicians and administrators to plan for their future needs.

Shipments of Aquilion Premium will begin in the second quarter of 2009.

source: Toshiba


Medicare | CMS Announces Tentative Decision To End Medicare Coverage for Virtual Colonoscopies

CMS on Thursday 2/12/09 announced a tentative decision to end Medicare coverage for virtual colonoscopies, or CT colonographies, the New York Times reports. "Controversy has swirled for years" about whether virtual colonoscopies, which use X-ray images and computer software to create images of the colon, are as effective as traditional colonoscopies, which use a small camera that is passed through the colon, according to the Times.

According to a notice published on the CMS Web site, an analysis conducted by the agency found "insufficient evidence" to conclude that virtual colonoscopies "improve outcomes in Medicare beneficiaries." The analysis found that virtual colonoscopies are as effective as traditional colonoscopies in the detection of larger polyps but less effective in the detection of smaller polyps.

source: Kaisernetwork,org


MRI Gradient Artifact Removal for ECG and EMG

BIOPAC announces a new method to remove gradient artifact from physiological data recorded inside a functional MRI. The new technique allows researchers to record ECG, heart rate and R-R interval data from a subject while the MRI is taking images. The same technique also significantly improves the quality of EMG data.

The new techniques allow researchers to record physiological data from a subject in the MRI. The brain is scanned while the subject receives a combination of visual, auditory, somatosensory, and electrical stimulation. The stimulation activates different regions of the brain and allows researchers to image the brain while the brain responds to the stimuli. The physiological data, stimulation and MRI images are all highly synchronized. This allows researchers to compare physiological responses and images to precise stimuli.

BIOPAC has a range of MRI products to record almost every physiological signal from inside the scanner. A range of isolated and filtered MRI cables provide the conduit between the subject in the scanner and the MP150/MP100 data acquisition systems and amplifiers that are located in the control room. BIOPAC MRI-compatible electrodes and MRI-compatible transducers connect to the filter cables and the subject.

source: BIOPAC


MRI shows brain atrophy pattern that predicts Alzheimer's

OAK BROOK, Ill. – Using special MRI methods, researchers have identified a pattern of regional brain atrophy in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) that indicates a greater likelihood of progression to Alzheimer's disease. The findings are published in the online edition of Radiology.

"Previously, this pattern has been observed only after a diagnosis of probable Alzheimer's disease," said the study's lead author, Linda K. McEvoy, Ph.D., assistant project scientist in the Department of Radiology at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine in La Jolla. "Our results show that some individuals with MCI have the atrophy pattern characteristic of mild Alzheimer's disease, and these people are at higher risk of experiencing a faster rate of brain degeneration and a faster decline to dementia than individuals with MCI who do not show that atrophy pattern."

According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than five million Americans currently have Alzheimer's disease. One of the goals of modern neuroimaging is to help in early and accurate diagnosis, which can be challenging. There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, but when it is diagnosed early, drug treatment may help improve or stabilize patient symptoms.

source: Eurekalert


MEDRAD Sponsors PET Research with University of Zurich

WARRENDALE, Pa., January 6, 2009 – MEDRAD, Inc., has signed a research agreement with the University of Zurich to study dynamic PET imaging with the MEDRAD Intego™ PET Infusion System. The researchers will utilize MEDRAD’s latest technology to more precisely control the radioactive dose delivered during PET imaging procedures.

Specifically, the study will examine patients with tumors in the chest or abdomen and compare standard quantitative techniques, such as standard uptake value (SUV), with more advanced kinetic and compartmental models. One of the primary goals of the research is to explore how controlled delivery technology can enable dynamic imaging by providing additional clinical utility and making these advanced techniques more practical. By enabling the benefit of repeatable infusion of the prescribed FDG dose to all subjects in the study, the Intego System is a key element in the research.

source: MEDRAD


Use Of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Improves Diagnosis Of Patients In Vegetative State

ScienceDaily (Jan. 29, 2009) — A study led by researchers from Catalonia analyses the importance of the use of magnetic resonance imaging to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients in a vegetative state. Until now these tests have not been performed in this type of patient. The results show activation of the auditory and linguistic areas of the brain despite the absence of observable behavioural responses.

The aim of this study is “to analyse the response of the brain to language in a group of traumatised patients in a vegetative state or in a minimally responsive state”. The patients were examined using the technique of functional magnetic resonance imaging”, explains Carme Junqué to SINC, who is the principal researcher of the project at the University of Barcelona (UB) in collaboration with the University Institute of Neurorehabilitation in Guttman.

source: Science Daily (press release)


CT Scans of the Heart Can Be Done with Low Radiation Dose

February 4, 2009 (updated) -- Physicians are able to perform high-quality CT angiograms of the heart with minimal radiation exposure, according to a study published in today's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Using dose-reduction strategies, some centers included in this study, dubbed PROTECTION I, were able to perform a 64-slice CT angiogram with a measured radiation exposure of 2.1 mSv (millisieverts), equivalent to the level of normal annual background radiation encountered by a resident of New York City -- and they were able to do this without degradation of the image.

However, some of the 50 international centers in this study performed similar CT angiograms at ten times that level of radiation, 21 mSv, prompting the authors to conclude:

"Median doses of CCTA (Cardiac Computed Tomography Angiography) differ significantly between study sites and CT systems. Effective strategies to reduce radiation dose are available but some strategies are not frequently used. The comparable diagnostic image quality may support an increased use of dose-saving strategies in adequately selected patients."

source: Angioplasty.org


MR Spectroscopy May Help Patients Avoid Invasive Procedures and Treatments for Recurrent Brain Lesions

A clinical decision model which uses MR spectroscopy to help physicians differentiate between recurrent tumors and changes in the brain tissue due to radiation treatments, may help patients avoid invasive procedures and treatments, according to a study performed at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, MI.

The study included 33 patients who had undergone radiation treatment for brain tumors and had MRI examinations that showed new lesions (either a recurrent tumor or radiation changes). Patients then underwent MR spectroscopy and ratios of three metabolites, choline (Cho), creatine (Cr) and n-acetylaspartate (NAA) were calculated. An ROC curve and prediction model was then created, which determined the post-test probability of a patient having a recurrent tumor. For the study, the final number of patients with recurrent tumors was 20 and those with post-radiation change were 13.

source: ARRS


Next Generation Diagnostic Tool May Transform Patient Outcomes

During the 12th Annual Scientific Sessions (January 29 to February 1, 2009) of the Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (SCMR), the world's major international society for cardiovascular imaging, the role of perfusion imaging in clinical decision making will be refined.

This technique allows measuring blood flow to the heart muscle with an unprecedented spatial resolution and without any ionizing radiation. Multicenter data has already suggested a superiority of this technique in comparison to methods now used on a routine basis. New data presented during the meeting further expands its role, suggesting that new techniques with faster imaging will further improve spatial resolution and enhance diagnostic accuracy.

source: Medical News Today