#364 – The Wire

  • Dark-Field X-Ray’s COPD Potential: New research out of Germany shows that dark-field X-ray technology could become an effective way to diagnose COPD “and potentially other lung disorders,” while exposing patients to a fraction of the radiation produced by CT scans. Among 77 patients with COPD, dark-field X-ray outperformed CT for lung diffusion capacity assessments, matched CT for emphysema assessments, and improved emphysema characterization compared to standard clinical tests.
  • Aidoc Adds ScreenPoint: Aidoc continued its AI platform expansion, adding ScreenPoint Medical’s Transpara mammography AI tools (2D & 3D). ScreenPoint fills a key gap on the Aidoc platform, joining the vendor’s homegrown triage/detection products (ICH, LVO, PE, IFG, c-spine & rib fractures) and partner products from Riverain (lung nodule detection), Imbio (PE assessment), Icometrix (stoke assessment), and Subtle Medical (image enhancement). The alliance also gives ScreenPoint access to Aidoc’s large client base, while adding to its solid list of partners (Fujifilm, Siemens, Volpara, Sectra, Agfa).
  • The Case for LCS Telehealth: A new American College of Surgeons study suggests that virtual lung cancer screening consultations should remain a viable option after the pandemic, and could be valuable for other cancer screenings. Temple University Hospital previously held CT LCS exams and consultations during the same on-site visit, but made the consultations virtual during the pandemic. Analysis of the two periods (n = 637 & 440) revealed that the on-site and virtual visits had similar diagnostic results and follow-up recommendations, and didn’t adversely affect African American patients.
  • GE’s ASTRO AI Alliances: GE Healthcare’s ASTRO 2021 announcement revealed a series of new AI vendor partnerships focused on radiation therapy planning and treatment guidance. GE unveiled a new collaboration with Vysioneer (CT/MR brain tumor auto-contouring), an MRI integration with Spectronic Medical (converts MRIs to synthetic CT images for treatment planning), and an AW Workstation / AW Server integration with Mirada Medical (enhances cancer visualization and diagnostics).
  • AyrFlo Early Warning: A husband-and-wife duo from the University of Wisconsin developed an ultrasound-based device that can identify when sedated patients are experiencing respiratory distress up to four minutes before conventional oxygen monitors alert clinicians. The AyrFlow device (in FDA regulatory process) uses a modified ultrasound sensor that attaches to patients’ necks and displays their breathing status on an operating room computer screen, although future versions could expand beyond surgery (asthma, sleep apnea, etc.).
  • ILD AI Evidence: A new AJR study highlighted how AI could help radiologists overcome traditional challenges diagnosing interstitial lung disease (ILD). The researchers had a commercial deep learning algorithm and six readers detect reticular opacity in chest X-rays (n = 197 patients with ILD, 197 control patients), finding that the AI tool outperformed the readers (with and without AI support) for sensitivity (98% vs. 93.8% vs. 73.3%), specificity (99% vs. 97.3% vs. 92.3%), and accuracy (98.5% vs. 95.6% vs. 84.8%). The readers’ interobserver agreement also significantly improved when they had AI support (κ=0.870 with AI vs. 0.517 without AI).
  • Hospital Practice Acquisition: Montana’s Benefis Health System (Great Falls-based, 3,400 employees, 7 locations, 14 counties) acquired Helena Imaging (two imaging centers, two radiologists), allowing Benefis to provide imaging and radiology services in Helena after opening a pair of clinics in the city. We don’t usually see hospitals acquire radiology practices, but this seems like a unique case, rather than the start of a trend.
  • Bayer’s 2021 G4As: Bayer’s G4A Digital Health Partnership program added five new “Advance Track” startups, including unique AI-enabled telerad firm Nines and medical image sharing company Zed Technologies (the other startups were non-imaging). Nines and Zed follow over G4A 50 Advance Track alumni that raised a combined $998m, although Blackford Analysis is the only previous imaging company.
  • Breast Density Awareness: A new Bayer survey revealed a need to improve breast density education. The survey (n = 500 US women w/ dense breasts, >35yrs old) found that 30% of the women did “not feel informed” about how breast density impacts their cancer risks or screening needs. When they were told about their breast density, 57% did not receive any informational resources, leaving 24% of them “worried” and 26% “unsure of what to do next.”
  • Joe Knows About SimonMed: Arizona television news consumer watchdog segment, “Let Joe Know,” detailed allegations of questionable billing practices at SimonMed (60 imaging centers in Arizona). A former employee and several patients alleged that SimonMed would “force” patients to pay more for imaging services than required by their co-pay, and then make them wait months for refunds. A SimonMed response detailed how it ensures up-front accuracy and transparency, and provides refunds when necessary.
  • No Image Reconstruction: Hamamatsu Photonics and UC Davis scientists developed the first advanced medical imaging technique that doesn’t require image reconstruction, potentially allowing new scanners that are smaller, more efficient, lower radiation, and equally or more accurate than current CT and PET systems. The new technique was made possible by its use of a pair of detectors (vs. a ring) and its unique approaches to light detection and signal processing.

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-- The Imaging Wire team