#416 – The Wire

  • Cedars-Sinai’s Pancreatic Cancer AI: Cedars-Sinai researchers developed an AI-based approach for detecting early signs of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) in abdominal CT scans. The researchers used 66 abdominal CTs (22 before diagnosis, 22 after diagnosis, 22 healthy) to train the model to identify PDAC’s unique radiomic features. They then tested it against 42 CTs from an external dataset (14 before diagnosis, 14 after diagnosis, 14 healthy), accurately classifying 86% of the pre-diagnostic and healthy patients (11 of 14 & 13 of 14).
  • Imaging Confidence Still Neutral: The AHRA’s Medical Imaging Confidence Index (n = 154; score range: 0-200) revealed that US imaging managers / directors’ expectations remained neutral in Q1 2022, closely matching sentiments from the previous quarter. The imaging leaders’ responses amounted to an “ambivalent” 106 overall score (vs. 108 in Q4 2021), as optimism around scan/IR volume growth (130 vs. 130) and imaging’s role as a profit center (135 vs. 130) were once again offset by low confidence in reimbursements (87 vs. 93), operating cost stability (84 vs. 89), and access to capital (98 vs. 98).
  • Aurabox Enters: The imaging sharing segment might gain a new startup competitor, following Aurabox’s $500k Angel round that it will use to fund product development and a private beta, before launching later this year. The Australia-based startup’s image sharing platform (stores all images, supports viewing & sharing) would be offered to doctors via a monthly subscription to support their collaborative care of complex patients.
  • Alzheimer’s PET Alternative: The FDA announced its clearance of the Lumipulse Alzheimer’s disease test, which uses cerebral spinal fluid to measure amyloid plaque presence (w/ same-day results), and could reduce the need for PET-based Alzheimer’s assessments. Perhaps most notable to Imaging Wire readers, the FDA announcement seemed to place as much focus on the benefits of eliminating PET as Lumipulse’s own capabilities (time, cost, radiation). That perspective might come into play as the various imaging alternatives in other diagnostic areas like cancer detection or TBI continue to advance.
  • Aidoc & Atlantic’s AI Alliance: Aidoc announced an AI platform partnership with Atlantic Health System, following the implementation of its CT-based AI triage solutions across all of the major New Jersey-based network’s medical centers (ICH, PE, c-spine & rib fractures, bowel injury). Aidoc appears to be on a roll in 2022, following similar health system partnerships with Novant Health and WellSpan Health.
  • No POCUS Cascade: A new EJR study provided solid evidence that the use of point-of-care ultrasound in the emergency department doesn’t drive significant downstream imaging overutilization. Analysis of 503 POCUS exams performed at a tertiary care center’s ED found that only 77 exams (15.3%) preceded downstream cross-sectional imaging. Most of those downstream scans targeted pathology that wasn’t assessed with POCUS (59.7%), followed by confirming conclusive or inconclusive POCUS findings (27.3% & 9.6%). There may be room to further reduce downstream imaging, as 90.5% of the cross-sectional exams to confirm conclusive POCUS findings agreed with the initial interpretations.
  • BodyTom 64 Cleared: Samsung NeuroLogica’s long-awaited BodyTom 64 gained FDA 510(k) clearance, becoming the first commercially-available 64-slice mobile whole-body CT system. Although still somewhat niche, the BodyTom 64 should be a welcomed addition to NeuroLogica’s portfolio, given the 32-slice BodyTom Elite’s established use cases (e.g. multi-dept imaging, image-guided procedures, oncology) and the recent momentum seen in the portable advanced imaging segments.
  • Statins Over Aspirin: A new RSNA study confirmed that statins are far more effective than aspirin for maintaining cardiovascular health. The researchers used CCTAs to identify 2,815 participants with nonobstructive CAD and 3,125 without detectable plaque. Over a ~5.7yr follow-up period, the nonobstructive CAD participants who were taking statins at baseline had lower rates of major cardiac events (9.5% vs. 13%), mortality (8.25% vs. 10.8%), and myocardial infarction (4.28% vs. 5.1%) than those not taking statins. Meanwhile, participants taking aspirin had worse outcomes than those not following any therapy (MACE: 14.7% vs. 10.9%; mortality 10.85% vs. 9.59%; MI: 6.2% vs. 4.38%). Neither therapy showed benefits among participants without plaque.
  • MR Battery Grant: University of York professor Simon Duckett, landed a £2.2M grant to develop a hyperpolarisation battery that could improve MRI and NMR performance. Professor Duckett and his team will use molecular catalysis to develop the MR battery, which they believe could enhance MR’s ability to analyze chemical systems, leading to future image quality and environmental impact improvements.
  • CT Emphysema and Lung Cancer Risk: A recent Radiology Journal study review (21 studies, 107k patients) showed that the presence and severity of emphysema in chest CTs are associated with higher lung cancer risks. Patients with emphysema present in their CTs had a 2.3 odds ratio of being diagnosed with lung cancer, while lung cancer risks became greater with every 1% increase in low attenuation (OR: 1.02). Patients with more severe emphysema findings in visual CT assessments had a far stronger association with cancer risk (ORs: 4.5 w/ “moderate to severe” findings vs. 2.5 w/ “trace” findings), compared to quantitative CT assessments (ORs: 2.5 vs. 1.9). 
  • Hospital Financial Challenges: Health systems have lost billions since the beginning of the pandemic, with a new American Hospital Association report showing that 33% of hospitals are currently operating with negative margins. The report attributes the strain to labor shortages and an increased dependence on contracted nursing staff. Travel nurses accounted for a median of 4.7% of total nurse labor expenses in 2019, compared to a median of 38.6% in January 2022.

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-- The Imaging Wire team