“Imagine a race where all the runners have different obstacles on their way to the finish, but they all must reach the target at the exact same moment.That is what we are doing with focused ultrasound.”
Howard M. Eisenberg, MD, professor and chair of neurosurgery at University of Maryland School of Medicine and neurosurgeon at University of Maryland Medical Center, helping us wrap our minds around how they are using MRI-guided ultrasound to find and stop neuropathic pain.
Imaging Wire Sponsors
- Carestream – Focused on delivering innovation that is life changing – for patients, customers, employees, communities and other stakeholders
- Focused Ultrasound Foundation – Accelerating the development and adoption of focused ultrasound
- Medmo – Helping underinsured Americans save on medical scans by connecting them to imaging providers with unfilled schedule time
- OpenMarkets – A marketplace for healthcare equipment, used by hundreds of hospitals and suppliers to buy and sell imaging equipment in the most efficient way possible.
- Pocus Systems – A new Point of Care Ultrasound startup, combining a team of POCUS veterans with next-generation technology to disrupt the industry
The Imaging Wire
Cios Spin FDA Approved
The US FDA cleared Siemens Healthineers’ Cios Spin mobile C-arm, making the intraoperative system available stateside one year after its European announcement. The Cios Spin provides surgeons with intraoperative “CT-like” 3D images for quality assurance during complicated procedures (orthopedic, trauma, and spine), helping them perform corrections and confirm their results. The system launches with a surgery-ready feature set and is preceded by a pair of already-announced surgery partnerships with NuVasive (spine surgery) and Storz Medical (urinary stone treatment, possibly EU-only) that should help support the system’s surgery positioning and expand its route to market.
Helium Beats iPhone
It’s not very often that an MRI story makes it onto Vice.com, LinkedIn news, and the UK’s Daily Mail, but an MRI helium leak at Morris Hospital in Illinois did just that. The MRI installation-related leak disabled 40 Apple iPhones, iPods, and Apple Watches at the facility (while Android-based systems kept running). This created quite a stir online, before it was revealed that the malfunctions were due to the way that helium interacts with Apple’s new MEMS silicon chips. Turns out that if Apple still used its old Quartz-based MEMS chips, this never would have happened. PS – Imagine the panic (and productivity) that would ensue if everyone in your company’s iPhone broke simultaneously?
Another Focused Ultrasound First
Focused Ultrasound Foundation-funded research recently scored another “first,” as University of Maryland Medical Center researchers treated a patient with chronic neuropathic leg pain using MRI-guided focused ultrasound for the first time in the US (this comes shortly after a first-time Alzheimer’s treatment with focused ultrasound). During the 3.5-hour procedure, the doctors used MRI to target the right part of the patient’s brain and then applied Insightec’s Exablate Neuro device to destroy the nucleus responsible for amplifying the neuropathic pain. Next up is larger trials to expand the method to other types of neuropathic pain, which combine to afflict an estimated 100 million Americans and bring $530 billion in annual healthcare costs. That’s quite a target market and a lot of patients to help.
AHRA’s Neutral News
The AHRA’s Q4 2018 Medical Imaging Confidence Index survey (n=150) revealed that imaging provider managers (hospitals and imaging centers) are highly confident that their radiology scan volume will grow, their costs will remain stable, and their profits will either grow or remain stable in Q4. However, respondents we not confident that they will receive adequate Medicaid reimbursements and were neutral on the likelihood of being able to access capital for new imaging systems and other imaging IT, resulting in a neutral overall composite score for the quarter.
- Enterprise imaging company Intelerad and AI platform developer EnvoyAI (a TeraRecon subsidiary) announced a partnership that will allow Intelerad to offer EnvoyAI’s entire AI portfolio to its customers, including its AI toolset and the 60 third party AI solutions on its platform. This represents a strategic milestone for each company, as it’s another step towards Intelerad’s goal to grow its AI offering and marks the first time a company has distributed EnvoyAI’s entire AI portfolio.
- Shimadzu announced the Japan launch of a new version of its MobileDaRt Evolution MX8 mobile X-ray configured with a Konica Minolta DR Flat Panel Detector. Shimadzu’s strategy is to support multiple DR FPD systems (in addition to Shimadzu’s own DR system), allowing Shimadzu to sell into hospitals that have already adopted other non-Shimadzu DR systems.
- Super impressive 17 year-old Twin City area student, Michael Cao, developed a 90-second virtual reality app intended to help kids prepare for MRI scans, in honor of his younger sister who died of brain cancer in 2009. The headset-based VR app simulates the MRI experience (including feelings of claustrophobia, the MRI’s loud operations, and the need to stay still) to help children prepare for their scans – followed by a VR celebration of a successful simulation (confetti and cheering) to help the patients feel good about the successful completion of their MRI scan. Pretty awesome stuff.
- NIH announced $220 million in funding for over 200 new awards (to over 100 research institutions) through the Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, with the goals of “fundamentally understanding the neural circuits that underlie the healthy and diseased brain” and finding new ways to battle the opioid crisis. Yes, there will be imaging-related research, including the creation of a wireless optical tomography cap for scanning human brain activity (and surely much more).
- Researchers from Columbia University and UCSF discovered that a deep learning convolutional neural network (CNN) can be trained to predict breast cancer patients’ neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) response prior to treatment using a breast tumor MRI dataset. The study looked at 141 advanced breast cancer patients that received a breast MRI before NAC treatment, predicting the patients’ NAC response level (either: complete, partial, or response/progression) with 88% accuracy and suggesting that a larger dataset could make the CNN even more accurate.
- GE Healthcare, Perspectum Diagnostics, UK Research and Innovation, and the University of Oxford formed a consortium focused on developing AI- and MRI-based solutions to diagnose liver disease through early detection of iron overload. Here’s the breakdown: UK Research and Innovation will invest £10 million to develop a national digital radiology and pathology infrastructure, combined with unspecified investments from GE (believed to be MRI and AI technology) and Perspectum Diagnostics (believed to be its LiverMultiScan MRI software), who will also join the Oxford-connected National Consortium for Intelligent Medical Imaging (NCIMI).
- Philips will open a new R&D center of excellence and headquarters for its CT and Advanced Molecular Imaging (CT/AMI) business in Cleveland during Q1 2019. The new facility will house multiple R&D labs and testing facilities, as well as a new customer service center. Philips’ Cleveland hub transformation will also include the overhaul of its Cleveland manufacturing plant, transitioning it to a customer and field service engineer training center.
- Medical imaging AI company, Subtle Medical, provided new insights into its SubtlePET and SubtleMRI technologies and revealed plans to show the FDA 510k-pending solutions at RSNA. SubtlePET accelerates PET scan times four-fold and can reduce PET radiation dose by up to 75%, while SubtleMRI “significantly accelerates” MRI scans, achieving these enhancements by focusing on AI-based image acquisition and workflow (vs. most AI systems’ focus on post-processing and CAD).
- Philips and Carolinas-based healthcare system, Atrium Health, signed a 12-month risk-sharing agreement that will use Philips’ imaging systems to provide image-guided therapy treatment to patients with peripheral vascular (PV) disease. Philips will compare the results of procedures using its PV technology against industry-standard quality goals, refunding a portion of its costs back to Atrium Health if they do not meet certain outcome metrics. Seems fair to us.
- Allstate filed a complaint against New York imaging centers, Rockville Centre Diagnostic Imaging and Diagnostic Imaging of Rockville Centre, claiming that they were “unlawfully managed and controlled by one or more non-physician” and submitted $1.3 million in “fraudulent and/or non-compensable charges“ to Allstate.
The Resource Wire
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- The Focused Ultrasound Foundation landed a spot on Charity Navigator’s list of America’s 10 Best Medical Research Organizations. The Focused Ultrasound Foundation achieved a four star rating, the highest rating awarded by the site, for its commitment to funding cutting-edge research, finding breakthroughs for a spectrum of conditions and diseases, and using donors’ funds wisely.
- OpenMarkets Exchange makes it easy to compare and order imaging tables, providing its clients savings of 10% or more for these popular items.
- POCUS Systems’ forthcoming ultrasounds will combine ease of use, durability, and reliability, allowing clinicians to focus on their patients.
- This Medmo video details how its healthcare marketplace platform and network of participating radiologists help underinsured patients pay as little as possible for their imaging procedures.
- This Carestream video demonstrates pediatric wrist imaging with the OnSight 3D Extremity System, which is particularly suitable for children due to its high resolution, low dose, and ability to image all planes at the same resolution.