GE Healthcare aims for 'next leap' in reducing radiation doses

By Bernie Monegain
07:04 AM

Medical institutions across the world are poised to participate in a study comparing ultra-low radiation doses to CT scans, GE Healthcare executives announced Monday at the Radiological Society of North America's annual meeting in Chicago.

Institutions including Duke University School of Medicine, University of Washington Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Mount Sinai Medical Center, University Hospital of Wales, Keio University Hospital, LMU Munich, AZ St-Jan Brugge and Beijing Hospital intend to join the effort, according to GE officials.

Patient enrollment in the study is slated to begin in the summer of 2010, with the results to be published the following year.

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The study will investigate the performance of Model Based Iterative Reconstruction (MBIR) as a method to maintain or improve diagnostic information available to clinicians while lowering radiation doses in routine CT imaging.

Over the past several years, CT has demonstrated value due to its versatile diagnostic capability, non-invasive application and ability to visualize fine anatomic detail, GE officials said. However, new technologies have provided the ability to reduce dose exposure dramatically, and further advancements in high-definition technologies, like MBIR, offer potential for another leap in image resolution and reduction of patient dose - even below the level of today's CT scanners.

New technique

MBIR uses an iterative model-based technique to reconstruct images with lower noise and higher resolution beyond the standard of traditional technologies, including filtered back projection and image-based noise reduction approaches.

Due to limitations in computing power and reconstruction technology, model-based iterative approaches have not been practical for commercial CT scanners to date. The study will investigate the level of performance that can be achieved with ultra-low radiation dose CT imaging enabled with MBIR for a variety of conditions in the brain, chest and abdomen.

"Providing better information to clinicians through high-definition CT images, while at the same time reducing patient dose, has been core to our priorities," said Steve Gray, vice president and general manager of computed tomography at GE Healthcare.

"Future technical advances, such as MBIR, could be extremely valuable to enable substantial reductions in radiation dose while maintaining diagnostic quality," said Donald P Frush, MD, professor of radiology and pediatrics at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. "Dose reduction is a benefit in any region of the body at any age CT is performed, but especially in children for whom multiple examinations might be necessary."

Frush said multi-institutional studies are an important way to help evaluate MBIR and a way for professionals in the field to maintain their responsibility to help develop and assess new technology.

"Model-based reconstruction techniques have the potential for significant improvements in spatial and contrast resolution at the same or lower radiation doses than are currently standard for CT imaging," said Michael Lev, MD, director of emergency neuroradiology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

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