#377 – The Wire

  • DispatchHealth’s Nationwide Imaging: Home care giant DispatchHealth just became one of the US’ largest mobile imaging providers with its acquisition of Dynamic Mobile Imaging. The acquisition expands DispatchHealth’s imaging services across much of the Midwest and Eastern US, and comes about eight months after first entering the imaging segment through its acquisition of Professional Portable X-Ray. Mobile imaging plays a key role in DispatchHealth’s strategy to create the “world’s largest in-home care system,” suggesting that more regional imaging acquisitions might be on the way.
  • Advanced-EPI’s Pancreatic Advantage: A new study out of Germany detailed an optimized MRI diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) sequence with advanced imaging post-processing / motion correction (advanced-EPI) that outperforms standard DWI (standard-EPI) for pancreatic imaging. Two blinded radiologists reviewed 62 patients’ abdominal 1.5T MRIs with advanced-EPI and standard-EPI, finding that advanced-EPI was preferred in 96% of cases and yielded “significantly higher” scores across a range of pancreatic imaging parameters (e.g. image quality, parenchyma details, sharpness of boundaries).
  • Philips’ Echo Experience: Philips announced what it’s calling a “fully integrated echocardiography experience,” combining its EPIQ CVx and Affiniti CVx ultrasound platforms with a new X5-1c transthoracic transducer, AI-driven automated measurement apps, and remote tele-ultrasound diagnostic access.
  • The Adversarial AI Threat: A new University of Pittsburgh study revealed that artificially-created “adversarial images” can fool both AI detection systems and subspecialist radiologists, highlighting a potential AI safety vulnerability. The researchers intentionally modified the diagnosis-sensitive areas of mammogram images, fooling an AI-CAD tool into producing a wrong diagnosis with 69% of images (all were diagnosed correctly pre-modification). Radiologists might not be able to serve as a safety net, as five breast rads were only able to visually identify 29% to 71% of the altered adversarial images.
  • Guerbet & Bracco’s GBCA Alliance: Guerbet and Bracco Imaging announced plans to collaborate on the manufacturing, R&D, and regulatory clearance of their next-gen Gadopiclenol MRI agent, while independently commercializing it under separate brands as early as 2023. Both companies own intellectual property related to Gadopiclenol, although Guerbet developed it and will manufacture Gadopiclenol’s active ingredient and vials for Bracco for up to seven years.
  • FFR-CT Effectiveness: FFR-CT has been one of imaging AI’s success stories, but a new study in European Radiology suggests that it might be less effective for evaluating the distal coronary artery segment. The researchers analyzed FFR-CTs from 59 asymptomatic male marathon runners without coronary artery stenosis (in proximal, mid, and distal coronary sections), finding that 22 of the participants (37%) had abnormal distal FFR-CT values (≤ 0.8) even though they were healthy. Although the study was performed using a prototype on-site FFR-CT system (not HeartFlow), it prompted an interesting debate about FFR-CT’s actual capabilities.
  • Mammography Self-Scheduling Benefits: A new Mayo Clinic study highlighted their mammography screening self-scheduling platform’s impact on patient convenience and staff workloads. Fifteen percent of patients used the scheduling platform in its first year (14k/93k), with 75% of self-scheduling happening during non-business hours. The self-scheduled appointments were far more likely to require a single setup step than staff-scheduled visits (93.5% vs. 74.5%) and rarely required staff to “clean up” incorrect appointment settings, although they also had higher no-show rates (5.7% vs. 4.6%).
  • Sonic Incytes’ Launch Funding: Sonic Incytes completed a $7.3M Series A round (total now $10.6M) and announced the launch of its Velacur handheld 3D ultrasound solution, which assesses fatty liver disease in 5-minutes with accuracy that’s “comparable to” MRI elastography. The FDA-cleared solution combines a handheld ultrasound that is placed between a patient’s ribs with an activation pad positioned underneath the patient, creating steady waves to quantify liver steatosis (fat content) and stage fibrosis (tissue stiffness).
  • Pediatric Pneumonia Predictor: A new Pediatrics Journal study detailed a predictive model that uses clinical data to identify children with and without community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), helping to guide chest X-ray and antibiotic use decisions. The researchers analyzed 1,142 patients (3mo – 18yrs, 253 w/ CAP) with signs of lower respiratory infection, finding that a model based on age, fever duration, tachypnea, and focal decreased breath sounds had “excellent” performance identifying patients with and without CAP.
  • Feedback & AWS’ TB Solution: Feedback PLC announced that it received funding from Amazon Web Services to support its rural India cloud-based tuberculosis (TB) screening program. The AWS-hosted solution allows local clinicians to upload chest X-rays to Feedback’s Bleepa app, which would then share images for diagnosis (either w/ remote radiologists or AI tools) and support patient-specific communications between remote TB specialists and local screening personnel. All resulting images, reports, and clinical discussions would be stored in Feedback’s CareLocker.
  • RadNet’s Delaware Expansion: Imaging center giant RadNet will expand into southern Delaware following its Delaware Imaging Network subsidiary’s acquisition of Dover-based Mid-Delaware Imaging (one location, full modality list). The acquisition gives RadNet its ninth imaging center in Delaware and continues its aggressive M&A activity within its targeted states (CA, AZ, NY, NJ, DE, MD).

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-- The Imaging Wire team