NVIDIA Clara | Unnecessary Screening | $100 Ultrasound

“The important result is that we do not find a beneficial effect of breast cancer screening any longer.”

Henrik Støvring PhD, of Denmark’s Aarhus University, on his team’s research suggesting that patient care has improved to a point that breast cancer screening is no longer beneficial. This is a loaded statement that will surely be met with pushback from the numerous people who view screening as a clinical lifesaver, as well as others who rely on screening as a major revenue driver.

 

 


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NVIDIA Clara Goes Live
NVIDIA officially began the launch of its Clara platform last week (currently available to early access partners), roughly six months after first revealing plans for the hardware/software AI system. The Clara platform is based on the NVIDIA Clara AGX, a computing architecture that combines NVIDIA’s Xavier AI computing module, the company’s Turing GPUs, and the Clara software development kit, allowing developers to create AI-powered applications using data pulled from existing imaging systems. The Clara platform is highlighted for its simplicity in comparison to traditional supercomputer platforms (it only requires a GPU architecture), its ability to modernize the applications that older imaging systems are able to support (like iterative reconstruction for CT/X-ray, beamforming for ultrasound, and compressed sensing for MRI), and the technical and informational resources it provides medical imaging software developers to develop apps based on the Clara platform.

 

Screening’s Benefits Questioned
Researchers in Denmark found that improved patient care is the main driver of reduced breast cancer mortality, not increased screening. The team followed Norwegian women between the ages of 30 and 89 from 1987 to 2010, finding that Norway’s decreased breast cancer mortality was not due to its breast cancer screening program, but because of improvements in treatment methods. The researchers claim that although screening helped in the 1980s, the benefit of screening has declined as treatment methods improved. There’s going to be some strong opinions about this one, as the study calls into question one of the most widely-adopted preventative measures, which grew in popularity in unison with a massive drop in breast cancer mortality and massive growth in the breast imaging industry.

 

$100 Ultrasound
University of British Columbia (UBC) engineers developed a flexible, band-aid size ultrasound transducer that they claim can produce image quality on par with traditional sonograms, but could reduce the cost of an ultrasound system to roughly $100. The Smartphone-powered device was developed using drum-based capacitive micromachined ultrasonic transducer (CMUT) technology built with low-cost polymer-resin materials, rather than the high-cost piezoelectric transducers used in standard ultrasound systems. The researchers admitted that the new technology still has to prove its sensitivity, durability, stability, and clinical performance, but initial results in these areas are promising as well. Despite the new ultrasound’s cost-based headlines (including in this issue of The Imaging Wire), the UBC researchers emphasized that their goal is far greater than just developing a low-cost ultrasound, revealing plans to explore other applications for polymer-based CMUTs.

 

Agfa Declines Offer
It didn’t take long for Agfa-Gevaert to come out and decline Kanteron’s buyout offer, without providing any additional details on its reasoning or insights into how seriously Agfa considered the offer. Agfa’s response came days after Kanteron Systems took to its blog to announce that it offered to buy Agfa Healthcare’s parent company, Agfa-Gevaert, and was in “early stage” discussions with the iconic print/ healthcare imaging company.

 

 


The Wire

  • Siemens Healthineers announced the first global installation of its Acuson Sequoia, installing the new ultrasound system known for its ability to scan overweight patients at Baptist Health South Florida. Baptist Health South Florida purchased numerous Acuson Sequoia systems for use across its ten facilities and five “centers of excellence” in South Florida, particularly targeting use for gastroenterology, primary care, and bariatric applications.

 

 


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