Hospitals Troubled | Philips CV US | Rice’s Iron Agent

“The possibility of eliminating gadolinium exposure and getting a two-fold improvement in T1 MRI contrast performance is going to intrigue radiologists. . . When they hear we’ve done this with iron I expect they will be very surprised.”

Rice University professor, Naomi Halas, on her team’s development of an iron-based T1 MRI contrast agent that could be an alternative to gadolinium-based T1 agents. Surprise!


The Imaging Wire


Morgan Stanley Details Troubled Hospital Financials
A Morgan Stanley analysis of over 6,000 US hospitals found that nearly 20% were either at risk of closure (450) or had weak financials (600). Morgan Stanley attributed these hospitals’ struggles to new competition from hospital alternatives like UnitedHealth and CVS-Aetna, “merger indigestion” after the hospital acquisition spree during the last 5 years, higher healthcare costs, and the rising number of uninsured people. At-risk hospitals are largely concentrated in SEC and Big 12 states (Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania), which uncoincidentally includes the two states with the highest rate of uninsured people (Texas 19%, Oklahoma 16%). Morgan Stanley forecast that hospital closures will become a dominant theme in the next 12 to 18 months, while cost and revenue-consciousness will surely be a common theme across all hospitals.


Philips Updates Cardiac Ultrasound Platform
Philips unveiled its new EPIQ CVx cardiac ultrasound and EPIQ CVxi interventional echocardiography ultrasound, launching the new systems across Europe and the US. The EPIQ CVx brings a range of improvements (faster processing, sharper imaging, automated quantification, customizable exam tools), highlighted by Philips’ new TrueVue 3D imaging feature (also available in other Philips US systems) that combines with an improved OLED screen for enhanced 3D modeling. EPIQ CVx also launches with the new Dynamic Heart Model feature (uses anatomical intelligence to quantify left ventricle function with improved efficiency) and the new S9-2 PureWave Transducer (simplifies pediatric cardiac exams through high detail and contrast resolution). Meanwhile, the new EPIQ CVxi with EchoNavigator is Philips’ third-generation integrated ultrasound-angiography cath lab system, intended to support communication between the interventional cardiologist and the echocardiographer during complex interventional procedures.


NEMA Fights for No New Tariffs, or at Least Limit Them
With the first round China tariffs now very-much official, NEMA shifted its efforts to future damage control, testifying that the proposed 10% to 25% tariffs on an additional $200 billion in Chinese goods should be “narrowly targeted” (read: targeted at products outside of imaging) and “time-limited.” Given that NEMA members are connected to $18 billion of these $200 billion in proposed tariffs and that $34 billion in medical imaging products were already included in the first round of tariffs, NEMA and its members have reason to be concerned. Still, after all the lobbying to prevent the initial July 6th tariffs, there is reason to believe the Trump administration’s tariff decisions are not easily influenced through traditional methods.


Rice’s Iron Agent Breakthrough
Rice University and MD Anderson researchers developed a new iron-based T1 MRI contrast agent that they claim achieves a two-fold image resolution improvement versus gadolinium-based T1 contrast agents, while offering superior stability and avoiding the safety concerns associated with gadolinium. This advancement was achieved by packing the iron-based contrast agents within tiny silica shells that allow the agents to perform well during T1 weighted scans. Iron-based agents are already quite common for T2 scans, while gadolinium-based agents are the main T1 option.


The Wire


  • UCSF researchers discovered that a hybrid deep learning technique, called an “annotation framework,” may improve medical imaging deep learning performance. The new technique combines natural language processing (NLP) and IBM Watson’s Natural Language Classifier (NLC) to speed-up the data extraction rate from clinical free-text reports. This new approach may allow researchers to use existing imaging datasets in deep learning, without requiring the time-consuming process of updating each image so it has AI/ML/DL-ready structure and annotation.
  • Mercy Medical Center installed five Mindray Resona 7 ultrasound machines at the hospital’s Vascular Center. Mindray also named Mercy its first and only US National Luminary site, meaning that Mindray and Mercy will work together to discover new vascular ultrasound applications over the next five years.
  • Stanford University researchers developed a dual MRI-PET technique that may improve osteoarthritis detection and allow earlier treatment. The multi-modality technique examines abnormal bone processes (with PET) and cartilage degeneration (with MRI) to identify bone degeneration at an early stage, and potentially allow “more accurate diagnosis and assessment of therapy.”
  • Konica Minolta continued its musculoskeletal (MSK) ultrasound promotional and educational efforts, providing its SONIMAGE HS1 MSK ultrasound for use at an American Academy for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) course on interventional ultrasound PM&R applications. This represents one of the first efforts since the launch of Konica Minolta’s new UGPro Solution initiative, which is focused on MSK ultrasound portfolio/application expansion and training/educational efforts.
  • The American College of Radiology’s Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute and Georgia Tech signed a $3 million partnership to build a data analytics lab examining the impact of policy on medical imaging. The new Health Economics and Analytics Lab (HEAL) will analyze medical claims databases to understand how payment models influence imaging delivery, using its results to support the “national medical imaging debate” with the main goal of improving care and making treatment as cost-effective as possible.
  • Dicom Systems announced the completion of a 5.3 million imaging exam de-identification project for New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery, which will use the de-identified images to support a partner AI company’s efforts to develop algorithms to prevent fracture misdiagnosis. DICOM aligned the project with its recently-announced strategic focus on the supply side of imaging AI (what it calls the “AI on-ramp”).
  • Hyperpolarized gas manufacturer, Polarean, enrolled the first of 80 patients for a new Phase III MRI trial intended to prove that its MRI drug-device combination (featuring hyperpolarised 129-Xenon gas) is more effective than an approved comparator (with 133-Xenon scintigraphy gas).
  • A team of University of Central Florida researchers developed an AI system that they claim can identify small lung cancer nodules in CT scans with 95% accuracy, representing a notable improvement versus radiologists who can only find these tiny cancer markers with 65% accuracy with the naked eye. Using the human brain as inspiration, the scientists designed the S4ND 3D convolutional neural network system to look for patterns in CT scans and “teach itself how to find these tiny tumors.” The new algorithm will next shift to a hospital setting, and if successful it would be “a year or two away from the marketplace.”
  • Guided Therapy Systems launched its Actisound intense therapeutic ultrasound (ITU) across Europe following its CE Mark approval. Using ultrasound waves, Actisound acts like an invisible scalpel under the skin to deliver small thermal ablations to tendons, ligaments, and other soft tissue at depths up to 15mm.



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