#418 – The Wire

  • GE Invests in Pulsenmore: GE Healthcare will invest up to $50M in home maternity ultrasound startup Pulsenmore, bringing GE into the fast-growing home care segment and helping Pulsenmore expand globally. GE Healthcare will support Pulsenmore as it brings its maternity ultrasound system into the U.S. and Europe, while the companies will collaborate on future home ultrasound products (perhaps beyond maternity & fertility). Although Pulsenmore has already achieved solid early adoption in Israel and other vendors have been advancing their tele-ultrasound products/strategies, GE’s investment gives the home ultrasound segment a new level of credibility and influence.
  • Thyroid Ultrasound Risk AI: Stanford researchers developed a deep learning risk-stratification system that classified thyroid nodules in ultrasound cine images more accurately than other DL models and TI-RADS assessments. When applied to 192 nodules (17 malignant, 177 patients), the DL system achieved a higher AUC than a pair of DL models and radiologists’ original TI-RADS assessments (0.88 vs. 0.72 & 0.78 & 0.80). The DL system would have downgraded 94 TI-RADS recommendations (92 benign nodules, 2 malignant), improving the original TI-RADS assessments’ specificity (79.4% vs. 26.9%) without significantly impacting sensitivity (71% vs. 82%).
  • CT-FFR’s Pre-TAVR Impact: A new JACC study added more evidence for using CT-FFR before TAVR procedures, showing that it’s more accurate than CCTA and could reduce unnecessary invasive coronary angiographies (ICA). Analysis of 76 patients with significant coronary stenosis (≥1) who underwent pre-TAVR CCTA exams showed that CT-FFR outperformed CCTA for sensitivity (84.6% vs. 76.9%), specificity (88.3% vs. 64.5%), and diagnostic accuracy (87.6% vs. 66.9%). These results suggest that a CT-FFR–guided approach could avoid ICA in 57.1% of patients, versus 43.6% with CCTA. 
  • Therapixel’s Series B: French mammography AI startup Therapixel completed a €15M Series B round that it will use to support the commercial deployment of its MammoScreen reading solutions in the United States. Although not yet a household name in the US, Therapixel has maintained solid momentum since its €5M Series A in 2019, gaining FDA clearance for its 2D and 3D solutions, establishing an initial client base, and adding to its research evidence.
  • PI-RR Performance: A new Radiology Journal study supports the Prostate Imaging for Recurrence Reporting (PI-RR) assessment method’s value for evaluating prostate cancer recurrence. Using mpMRI exams from 100 men (48 after radiation therapy, 52 after radical prostatectomy) and a ≥3 PI-RR cutoff score, four readers detected biochemical prostate cancer recurrence with 0.77 to 0.92 AUCs within the radiation therapy group and between 0.80 and 0.88 AUCs within the radical prostatectomy group. The radiologists achieved an 0.87 intraclass correlation coefficient across both groups, suggesting that PI-RR allows good-to-excellent reliability.
  • Silent Atherosclerosis Evidence: The main results of the Miami Heart Study are officially published, confirming that many asymptomatic people have coronary plaque and stenosis that is detectable with low-dose coronary CT angiography. The researchers performed CCTAs on 2,359 asymptomatic individuals (53yr avg. age), finding that 49% had coronary plaque, 6% had at least moderate stenosis (≥50%), and 7% had plaques with at least one high-risk feature. CCTA also detected non-calcified plaque in 16% of patients with zero CAC scores (2.3% w/ high-risk plaques), demonstrating CCTA’s added value for risk stratification.
  • The Fallacy of Zero CAC: In similar news, a new JACC editorial highlighted the “false sense of cardiac health” created by zero calcium scores. The author cited a growing field of research showing that many patients with zero CAC scores have detectable plaque on CCTA, and that follow-up CCTAs commonly show non-calcified plaque progression. Given the new solutions supporting automated coronary plaque quantification and the growing evidence of what CAC scanning misses, the author urged adopting CCTA-based approaches for symptomatic patients.
  • Imaging’s Downward Q1: After more than a year of widespread growth, industry headwinds caused a number of the major OEMs’ healthcare/imaging division revenues to decline during the January to March quarter. Fujifilm’s healthcare division once again posted the greatest growth (+17% to $1.76B), followed by Hologic’s breast imaging division (+9.2% to $269.9M), Siemens Healthineers’ imaging business (+6.5% to $2.72B), and GE Healthcare (+2% to $4.4B). Meanwhile, the quarter brought revenue declines within Konica Minolta’s healthcare division (-28% to $199M), Canon Medical Systems (-5% to $919M), and Philips’ Diagnosis & Treatment division (-2% to $1.98B). For context, only two quarterly declines occurred in the previous two quarters combined.
  • Patients’ AI Perspectives: A new JAMA study suggests that most patients (n = 926 in 2019) are optimistic about the impact of healthcare AI, although a lot of that depends on how AI is used. The majority of respondents believed that AI would make health care either “much” or “somewhat” better (10.9% & 44.5%), while 19% “did not know” how AI would impact care, and just 4.3% believed AI would make health care “somewhat” worse. Perhaps more notable, most patients were “very” or “somewhat” comfortable with AI reading a CXR (12.3% & 42.7%), but far fewer felt that way about AI making cancer diagnoses (6% & 25.2%).
  • Densitas & Blackford Expand: Densitas and Blackford Analysis expanded their partnership, adding Densitas’ breast cancer risk assessment and image quality solutions to the Blackford Platform. Densitas’ riskAI and qualityAI solutions join its flagship densityAI density analysis solution on the Blackford Platform, giving Blackford clients access to much of its portfolio.

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-- The Imaging Wire team