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GE Adds BK | BUS AI | Gangs vs. CT Teams

“The state of AI today is Artisanal Intelligence”

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Arterys | Bayer Radiology | Blackford Analysis
Canon Medical Systems | Fujifilm Healthcare Americas
GE Healthcare | Novarad | Nuance
Riverain Technologies | Siemens Healthineers
United Imaging | Zebra Medical Vision



The Imaging Wire


GE Acquires BK

GE Healthcare’s ultrasound portfolio became a lot more diverse last week with its acquisition of surgical ultrasound company BK Medical. Here’s some details and perspectives:

The Acquisition – GE Healthcare will acquire BK Medical from Altaris Capital Partners for $1.45b, separating BK Medical from Analogic. That’s a pretty big investment considering that GE’s ultrasound unit brings in $3b a year.

GE’s Surgical Expansion – With BK Medical, GE’s ultrasound unit expands from diagnostics to intraoperative imaging and surgical navigation, which is reportedly a fast-growing and high-margin business for BK Medical.

The BK Portfolio – BK Medical got its start in urology ultrasound, and more recently expanded to ultrasound systems used to guide minimally invasive and robotic surgeries and to visualize deep tissue during neuro and abdominal surgeries. That adds up to five unique ultrasound systems.

GE Impact – GE sees a lot of value in BK Medical. BK gives GE an ultrasound portfolio that the other OEMs can’t match (diagnostic, surgical, post-operative), “accelerates” GE’s precision health strategy, and will reportedly deliver “high-single-digit” ROI within five years.

GE Acquisition Trend – While GE Healthcare spent 2018 and 2019 selling major non-imaging businesses (value-based care to Veritas Capital, life sciences to Danaher), GE’s 2020 and 2021 acquisitions have focused on expanding its capabilities within imaging (Zionexa for radiopharmaceuticals, Prismatic Sensors for CT detectors, and now BK Medical for ultrasound). That says a lot about GE Healthcare’s imaging focus, and is quite different from Philips and Siemens, which have increasingly targeted M&A outside of imaging.


Non-Contrast 4D Flow Validated

This University of Chicago study detailed an Arterys-based non-contrast 4D-flow CMRI sequence that acquires multiple overlapping thin slabs, and could improve image quality, diagnostic accuracy, and aortic flow measurements compared to the non-contrast single-slab approach.

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Take the Canon AiCE Challenge

Take the AiCE challenge and see why half the radiologists in a recent study “had difficulty differentiating” images from Canon Medical Systems’ Vantage Orian 1.5T MR using its AiCE reconstruction technology compared to standard 3T MRI images.

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The Wire

  • NYU’s BUS AI: An NYU team developed a breast ultrasound AI system (w/ 288k exams) that identified breast cancer with radiologist-level accuracy, and could address breast ultrasound’s challenges with false positives. The ultrasound AI system first identified breast cancer in a 44k-exam test set with a high 0.976 AUC and then outperformed 10 radiologists in a 633-exam reader test (0.962 vs. 0.924 avg.). More importantly, when the radiologists used the AI tool for triage, it improved their accuracy (0.924 to 0.961) and reduced their false positive rates (-37%) and requested biopsies (-28%) without affecting sensitivity (90.1%).
  • Gangs vs. CT Team: The UK tabloids recently detailed a new type of CT team heroics. An unidentified CT team was reportedly scanning a victim of a gang-related stabbing when his attackers rushed the hospital to finish the job. A nurse and radiographer blocked the victim from his attackers and were knocked to the ground just as hospital security arrived.
  • Ultrasound Rebound: Signify Research forecast a quick post-COVID rebound for the global ultrasound market, returning to 2019 revenue levels this year, and continuing to grow in future years as point-of-care and primary care adoption increases. North America will lead ultrasound’s 2021 rebound (double-digit growth, driven by premium segment), while other regions will depend on how well they are managing the COVID pandemic and whether they had a 2020 decline to rebound from (growers = Japan, China, Russia; decliners = W. EU, Latin America, SE Asia).
  • Angio AI: University at Buffalo spinoff, QAS.AI, is developing an AI solution that uses angiographic data to help guide intracranial aneurysm surgeries. QAS.AI’s initial tool analyzes live angiography data during surgeries to detect complications (e.g. inadequate blood flow to the brain) and predict a treatment’s outcome, while future tools might support other vascular disease procedures.
  • Expanded Disparities: The USPSTF’s significantly expanded lung cancer screening eligibility criteria might not improve the racial/ethnic LCS disparities that it was intended to address. A team of researchers analyzed data from 20 states, finding that the new guidelines did increase eligibility overall (11% old vs. 14% new) and across most racial groups (Whites: 14% to 15%; African Americans: 7% to 9%; Hispanics: 4% to 5%). However, African Americans and Hispanics remained significantly less likely to be eligible for screening than Whites (old odds ratios: 0.36 African Americans & 0.15 Hispanics; New ORs: 0.39 & 0.15).
  • Sonographers in Pain: The majority of sonographers experience pain while performing scans. That’s from a survey of 8k sonographers in the United States, revealing that 66% experience on-the-job pain, with an average pain level of 4 out of 10. Pain levels were greatest within certain specialties (cardiac, vascular, and OB-GYN) and among sonographers with higher workloads (>18 scans per day, scans > 30 minutes).
  • BMI and BC: A new Cancer journal study found that women with a high body mass index (BMI) are at greater risk of developing advanced breast cancer between their scheduled mammograms. The researchers analyzed 293k negative mammograms (75k women, 2006-2015) that preceded 1,345 breast cancers detected within two years (357 advanced cancers). Obese women had a 90% higher risk of advanced cancer diagnosis during the first year, while both overweight and obese women had a 40% higher risk of advanced cancer diagnosis during the second year.
  • Specialty Telehealth: An AMA survey found that 70.3% of physicians worked in practices using telehealth services as of September 2020, with usage varying widely across specialties. Telehealth visits were most common among dermatologists (87.3%), psychiatrists (85.8%), and pediatricians (82.9%), while 37.2% of radiology practices utilized telehealth (3.6 video tele-visits per week, 2.7% of total visits).
  • Flywheel Acquires Radiologics: Flywheel expanded its imaging research informatics capabilities and market reach, acquiring Radiologics with the help of a new $21.5m funding round (total now $45.5m). The combined companies are immediately operating under the Flywheel brand and offering Radiologics product/service portfolio as part of the Flywheel biomedical imaging research data platform. They’re also connecting their respective research networks.
  • Accelerated HR-LGE: An EJR study detailed a new cardiac MRI technique that could help diagnose myocardial injuries in COVID patients. The researchers developed an accelerated high-resolution free-breathing late gadolinium enhancement (HR-LGE) method, that maintains HR-LGE’s advantages with COVID patients (effective with myocardial injuries, no repeated breath holds), while allowing 10-minute faster exams than traditional HR-LGE CMRIs (a challenge with COVID patients).
  • Quebec Techs on Strike: Quebec’s 60k medical technicians (including imaging techs) might be heading back on strike after a recent bonus was only extended to nurses. The province’s medical techs already held a two-day strike in June to protest stalled contract negotiations and were about to vote on a new labor agreement when news of the bonuses changed “everything.”

CVIS’ Cloud Advantages

This Diagnostic and Interventional Cardiology article details the unique advantages of cloud-based CVIS systems (off-property access, team collaboration), with insights from one Mississippi-based cardiologist on the benefits of Fujifilm Healthcare’s VidiStar CVIS.

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The Resource Wire

  • See how and why Zebra Medical Vision sees a much bigger future for public health AI than many of us imagine in this Imaging Wire Q&A with company CEO, Zohar Elhanani.
  • No blueprint? No problem. Live Site Planning Sessions are one of United Imaging’s favorite collaboration moments, giving customers and their design team an opportunity to discuss preliminary equipment layout, adjust equipment placement, make changes to the floor plan, and review equipment specifications in a live virtual environment.
  • See Birmingham Radiological Group-GV radiologist, Joel Mixon, MD, describe their transition to Nuance PowerScribe One and how the platform improved their efficiency, consistency, and accuracy.
  • Siemens Healthineers’ MAGNETOM Free.Max is the world’s first MRI with an 80 cm bore that is improving the patient experience. See how it is breaking barriers in MRI.
  • Thinking about AI ROI? Check out this AIMed conversation featuring Blackford CEO, Ben Panter, and Lahey Hospital & Medical Center’s radiology Chairman, Dr. Christoph Wald, discussing how to demonstrate the value of healthcare AI.
  • See how GE Healthcare’s AI-ready PACS will help radiology unleash the promise of AI.
  • Check out this Imaging Wire Q&A, where Bayer Radiology’s Dennis Durmis and MITA’s Peter Weems discuss the medical device service debate and how ongoing legislation and regulation efforts could impact patients, clinicians, and OEMs.
  • This European Radiology study highlighted Riverain Technologies’ ClearRead Xray – Detect as one of just two imaging AI products to achieve the FDA’s most stringent premarket approval level. See how they measured up against the other 99 AI tools here.