Incidental Thermal Imaging | MRI Recognition

“I know it’s not the intention of the camera but for me it really was a life-changing visit.”

Scottish woman, Bal Gill (41), after a thermal camera at an Edinburgh tourist attraction helped identify her early stage breast cancer.

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The Imaging Wire

Incidental Thermal Imaging

News of a 41-year-old Scottish woman’s “life-changing” visit to an Edinburgh tourist attraction recently brought thermal imaging technology to the forefront of the breast cancer screening conversation, but not everyone is happy about that. Here’s the background:

The Thermal Imaging Room – During her walk through Camera Obscura & World of Illusions’ thermal imaging room, the woman noticed a different color patch in her left breast. This experience, plus a reminder from a souvenir thermal imaging photograph and some online research were enough to get her to follow-up with an actual physician. It turned out that she had early stage breast cancer.

Thermography – News of this rare incidental diagnosis quickly spread (covered by The BBC, The Sun, Forbes, NBC News, Women’s Health, and more), bringing increased attention to thermography as a possible breast cancer screening modality and potentially making novelty thermal imaging rooms like this a self-diagnosis source.

Mainstream ReactionIt hasn’t been a good year for thermal imaging, so it’s not a surprise that this “win” for thermography quickly soured. The mainstream breast imaging industry worked to stop any momentum thermography might have gained from this story, reminding the public that mammography is the only proven breast cancer screening technology and screening should be performed by medical professionals.

MRI Recognition

Mayo Clinic researchers used commercially available facial-recognition software to match people’s facial photographs with their head MRI images, highlighting how evolving technology and growing databases of medical imaging data may jeopardize patient privacy. Here are the details:

The Study – The researchers used actual head MRI scans of 84 people to generate facial reconstruction images and then applied facial-recognition software that was able to match 83% of the scans with the correct facial photos. Most of the scans that didn’t successfully match patients (10) still listed the correct patient among the top five most likely matches.

The Quandary – The study reveals yet another way that technology could be used to work-around healthcare privacy protections, especially given the “aggressive push” to “amass and mine medical data from patient medical records, research, medical devices and consumer technology.”

The Recommendation – In light of these results, the authors suggested that privacy protections should continue to be extended as new technologies and approaches emerge. The researchers plan to develop a solution for this problem, noting that the current solutions (e.g. blurring or removing some MRI data) can limit image quality.

The Wire

  • Philips expanded its new Incisive CT platform and ‘Tube for Life’ guarantee to North America, giving Philips’ high-end CT assortment an interesting economic differentiator. The 72cm bore CT ships in a variety of configurations based on detector width (2cm or 4cm) and slices (32, 64, or 128), but is clearly highlighted by the tube guarantee. Philips has so much faith in its new vMRC X-ray tube that the company will replace it at no additional cost throughout a unit’s entire life (10yrs = “life”), providing customers an estimated lifetime savings of $420,000.
  • A Thomas Jefferson University-led study found that a machine learning ultrasound model could be used to identify thyroid nodules with high-risk mutations, potentially serving as a non-invasive alternative to thyroid biopsies. The model was created from images from 121 patients and 134 lesions (556 images for training, 74 for validation, 53 for testing), classifying thyroid nodules with 45% sensitivity, 97% specificity, 90% positive predictive value, 74.4% negative predictive value, and 77.4% overall accuracy.
  • An MRI accident at a Swedish hospital left a nurse with serious injuries and gave two security guards minor injuries, while badly damaged the mobile MRI system (the patient was not injured). The accident occurred during an MRI scan after the radiology nurse entered the mobile MRI wagon while wearing an exercise weight vest and was pulled into the MRI.
  • A new study published in JACR found that radiologists participating in Medicare’s Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) benefitted from taking advantage of MIPS-Alternative Payment Models (APMs). Using 2017 data from 20,956 MIPS-participating radiologists (MIPS reporting methods: 13.4% APM, 16.6% individual, 68.9% group), the study found that radiologists using the MIPS APM pathway had a 90.6 average score (vs. 56.5 individual & 85.6 group) and AMP has the greatest advantage over the Group Pathway among radiology groups with under ≤15 physicians (84.1 vs. 75 avg. scores).
  • Major European diagnostic company Unilabs (lab, pathology, imaging; 12k employees, 110 imaging centers, 16 countries) expanded to the Spanish imaging market with its acquisition of CMDI (~50 sites, 100 employees, >30 radiologists). Unilabs plans to help CMDI become a leader in the Spanish radiology market by expanding its service portfolio, growing its teleradiology business, and making more acquisitions in the region.
  • iSchemaView expanded its RAPID stroke imaging platform, adding the new RAPID ICH1 for triaging non-contrast CTs and notifying clinicians of possible intracranial hemorrhage (ICH). The CE/FDA-pending RAPID module uses AI to automatically process images from a CT scanner and assess them for hemorrhage, making results immediately available to doctors via PACS/Workstation, the RAPID Mobile app, and email.
  • Lab and imaging consulting company, Accumen, acquired 3D medical post-processing company, 3DR Laboratories (450 active U.S. clients, 150 employees, 120 RTs on staff). 3DR Laboratories expands Accumen’s clinical service portfolio and enhances its imaging transformation offering, which focuses on improving imaging department/center operations and costs.
  • A recent NPR profile revealed that non-profit hospitals are driving up healthcare costs due to what could be explained as Medicaid reimbursement quid pro quo. The story described a number of questionable events including: non-profit hospital lobbying associations donating to political parties and later benefitting for Medicaid reimbursement hikes, the associations effectively lobbying against reforms that would have hurt their revenues (billing transparency) or costs (minimum staffing levels), and rumors that district-based Medicaid reimbursement increases were used to encourage U.S. representatives to support President George W. Bush’s 2003 Medicare expansion.

The Resource Wire

  • In this interview, Nuance Chief Medical Officer, Woojin Kim, MD, discusses the evolving role of blockchain in healthcare.
  • Yale University research reveals that the average patient drives past SIX lower-cost providers on the way to an imaging procedure, due in large part to patients’ and physicians’ limited cost consciousness. Medmo helps address this issue by letting patients enter what they can afford for their scan, then booking them at a nearby imaging center willing to accept that rate.

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