“Radiology might well advance to a new era of excellence,”
Emory ethicist John Banja, PhD, sharing an attractive alternative to just accepting the idea that AI will bring radiologists’ extinction.
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- GE Healthcare – Providing point of care ultrasound systems, from pocket-sized to portable consoles, designed to support your clinical needs and grow along with your practice.
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- Hitachi Healthcare Americas – Delivering best in class medical imaging technologies and value-based reporting.
- Nuance – AI and cloud-powered technology solutions to help radiologists stay focused, move quickly, and work smarter.
- Riverain Technologies – Offering artificial intelligence tools dedicated to the early, efficient detection of lung disease.
The Imaging Wire
Electronics giant Sony announced a collaboration with home breast ultrasound company Microsonic Corporation, that will combine Sony’s design and commercialization expertise with Microsonic’s MAMMOECHO ultrasound technology.
- The Alliance – Microsonic is now part of the Japan-based Sony Startup Acceleration Program (SSAP), which helps early-phase startups with product creation and business operations.
- MAMMOECHO – Designed for at-home breast cancer screening, the small / portable MAMMOECHO allows women to perform DIY scans and then transfers the images via a smartphone to remote specialists for review. Patients are then notified of their results, allowing them to avoid the pain and hassle of traditional mammogram screening.
- Significance – Sony and Microsonic envision a future where every woman has her own MAMMOECHO, significantly improving screening and detection rates. Of course, not everyone would agree that this is a good goal. However, this announcement represents another milestone in the at-home imaging / screening trend that’s already brought us a number of similar DIY breast cancer screening devices (like these) and a broader home teleultrasound effort from Butterfly.
CT: Not for CV19 Diagnostics
COVID-19 pneumonia and viral pneumonia technically can be differentiated in CT scans, but it’s difficult to tell the difference in the clinic. That’s from a new AJR study out of China and here are some the key takeaways:
- The Study – The retrospective study reviewed clinical data and CT images from 52 patients with COVID-19 pneumonia and 45 patients with influenza pneumonia.
- The Findings – The review found that most CV19 lesions are located in the peripheral zone and close to the pleura, while influenza virus pneumonia was more prone to show mucoid impaction and pleural effusion. However, there were no significant differences for many clinical (e.g. ground-glass opacity, consolidation, etc.) or imaging areas (e.g. CT score, length of largest lesion, density, mass). In fact, the images were so similar that the researchers couldn’t differentiate between CV19 and viral pneumonia using AI software.
- The Significance – Due to the many similarities between CV19 and viral pneumonia, the researchers suggest that diagnosis should involve a comprehensive evaluation, while CT can provide the most value by “finding lesions and evaluating effects of treatment.” This study definitely isn’t the first to tell us that imaging is better for managing COVID-19 than diagnosing it, but it’s still a worthwhile reminder.
An opinion piece by medical ethicist John Banja PhD published in RSNA’s Radiology called for a return to realism when predicting how AI will affect radiology.
- Doomsday Damage – The author acknowledged that “doomsday predictions” are an effective way to get headlines, but warned that these headlines may be irresponsible since they could discourage potentially great radiologists from entering the specialty.
- Amiable Apprentice – Banja assured that an AI doomsday is unlikely (“at least in the short term”) and suggested that AI is more likely to evolve into a “radiologist’s amiable apprentice rather than an awful adversary.”
- AI Evidence – To back that reassurance up, Banja noted that despite the massive increase in AI research and investments over the last decade, imaging AI still performs better in the lab than the clinic and has an even longer way to go to replace human expertise.
- Narrow Replacement – One sign that AI is still more ready to be an apprentice than a replacement is the continued dominance of specialized “narrow AI” solutions. Banja assured that it would take thousands of narrow AI models to actually replace radiologists and these solutions could never navigate the clinical tasks that come with radiologic care.
- Banja’s Law – Banja also cited speculation that true AI innovation is slowing and the development of actual multitasking solutions would require computing power well beyond what is currently available with silicon-based transistors.
- One Guarantee – Despite sharing this comprehensive list of reasons why AI doesn’t pose an immediate threat to radiologists, Banja’s main argument is that although predictions are rarely correct, the fear created by these negative predictions is almost guaranteed to be harmful.
- Siemens to Sell Turner Mini C-Arm: Turner Imaging Systems and Siemens Healthineers announced a five-year reseller agreement, allowing Siemens to sell Turner’s Smart-C Mini C-Arm in the U.S. (and eventually globally). The alliance significantly expands Turner’s market reach, after the portable (just 16 pounds) fluoroscopy and X-ray device gained FDA approval last fall, while expanding Siemens’ C-arm lineup.
- Safe & Effective Brain PET Tracer: Chinese researchers found that the new 64Cu-EBRGD PET radiotracer is safe and effective for imaging glioblastoma brain tumors. In an in-human study presented at SNMMI 2020, the team revealed that 64Cu-EBRGD was particularly effective for visualizing tumors that express low or moderate levels of αvβ3 integrin, without producing adverse events among trial patients.
- Avicenna.AI FDA Cleared: French AI developer Avicenna.AI announced the FDA approval of its CINA Head neurovascular imaging triage tool, representing the company’s first FDA-cleared product. CINA Head triages CT images for intracranial hemorrhages and large vessel occlusions in emergency room settings, automatically detecting and prioritizing the conditions within 20 seconds.
- M&A On the Rise: Kaufman Hall forecast an increase in healthcare mergers and acquisitions, noting above-expected M&As during Q2 (despite COVID) and suggesting that pandemic pressures will drive more acquisitions in Q3. The second quarter brought 14 transactions with a total value of $12b, down from 29 in Q1 2020 and 19 in Q2 2019, but still more acquisitions than expected given the market disruption taking place.
- Oh Hey, FDA: The U.S. FDA will be back to conducting imaging site inspections starting July 20. Previously on pause since March due to COVID-19, in-person inspections will move forward based on state and local coronavirus status / trajectory.
- 4DMedical’s IPO & U.S. Expansion: Less than two months after landing its first FDA approval, Australian lung imaging company 4DMedical launched a $55.8AU million IPO ($39.1 USD) to fund its commercial expansion into the United States. 4DMedical’s XV Technology lung imaging software uses a single X-ray scan to analyze lung impairment and provide information on the functional and structural state of a patient’s lungs (including for COVID-19 patients).
- SimonMed and iCAD Go National: Major imaging / radiology provider SimonMed is deploying iCAD’s Profound AI breast cancer screening software throughout its national imaging center network. The announcement emphasized how Profound AI will help SimonMed work through the mammography backlog caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- On The Feasibility Bus: A Tennessee-based team found that rural mobile lung screening programs are feasible, but they require a centralized approach to handle incidental findings in order to limit future financial risks. During the 12-month “Breathe Easy” study, the bus-based team (a rad tech, NP, driver, program developer, and a CT scanner) screened 548 patients at 104 sites and detected five lung cancers as well as other findings (e.g. CV or pulmonary).
- UI’s SNMMI Launches: United Imaging’s virtual booth at SNMMI brought news that the company’s HYPER Iterative functionality is cleared for use with its uMI 550 PET/CT scanner (reduces scan times with high contrast/accuracy) and revealed that the company will launch a mobile version of the uMI 550 this summer (making it the first mobile digital PET/CT). The company also announced plans to integrate its FDA-pending HYPER Deep Learning Reconstruction technology with its uMI 550 and uMI 780 digital PET/CT systems.
- D-SPECT VISTA: Spectrum Dynamics announced the launch of its D-SPECT VISTA scanner, positioning it as an entry-level option for institutions transitioning from analog cardiac scanners to CZT myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) technology. The cost-focused system can be enhanced by adding options and can be upgraded to the better-equipped D-SPECT CARDIO.
- INSIGHTEC’s Full Medicare Coverage: INSIGHTEC’s MR-guided focused ultrasound treatment for essential tremor is now covered by Medicare across all 50 states, after INSIGHTEC gained approval from the final two Local Medicare Administrative Contractors (7 total over 18 months). INSIGHTEC called the nationwide Medicare coverage a significant milestone towards making focused ultrasound a new standard of care for the nervous system disorder.
- Sectra Signs CHRISTUS: Sectra announced an enterprise imaging contract with western/midwest hospital system CHRISTUS Health, bringing its VNA and radiology, cardiology, and mammography modules to 30 CHRISTUS Health hospitals and imaging centers in Texas and Louisiana.
The Resource Wire
– This is sponsored content.
- Learn about the different PPP loan forgiveness forms, limits on payroll forgiveness, and next steps in this article from Healthcare Administrative Partners.
- It says a lot when a solution works so well for a radiology department that they decide to perform a study to quantify its benefits. In this Imaging Wire Q&A, University Hospital of Zurich’s Thomas Frauenfelder discusses his experience and study on Riverain Technologies ClearRead CT.
- This Nuance blog details how the speed of radiology’s post-COVID road to recovery will depend on how the specialty accelerates its digital transformation, including its adoption of AI, NLP, and follow up tools.
- As the COVID-19 emergency brings tele-health and tele-radiology to new levels of prominence, this Hitachi blog outlines the key considerations for hospitals and practices that are about to make this transition.
- The introduction of ultrasound into musculoskeletal care has been a game-changer, revolutionizing the level of precision MSK physicians can bring to patient care. This GE Healthcare profile details how one physician used point of care ultrasound to help improve performance and effectiveness.
- The Focused Ultrasound Foundation’s July newsletter features an in-depth discussion about how focused ultrasound could revolutionize therapy.