Portable and Mobile Equipment

IMIX Debuts IMIX RadStation: Transportable DR Where Needed

The IMIX RadStation, an all-in-one DR workstation on a compact and transportable cart, is ideal for the ER and OR.

While some hospitals are investing capital resources to universally replace or retrofit analog x-ray systems for new DR platforms, IMIX Americas, Sterling, Va, saw another pathway to DR.

Rather than replace all portable x-rays with DR systems, IMIX began developing a flexible and transportable DR station that can be moved to any needed location in the facility. The result is the IMIX RadStation, an all-in-one DR workstation on a compact and transportable cart.

Rex Harmon, vice president of marketing and national accounts, IMIX Americas, explained that RadStation is designed for hospitals that can’t afford to replace all of their analog systems with DR, but still want DR available in different critical areas as needed.

“There are some places where the advantage of DR is really important,” said Harmon. “The advantage is immediate image viewing. So, if you’re in the OR, for example, and the surgeon wants to see his image immediately, only DR can do that.” Emergency departments and intensive care units are also places where DR can be critical.

However, immediate access to images is not as crucial for other departments, but still helpful, especially as hospitals comply with new digital health care mandates.

RadStation provides a solution for having flexible DR where and when it is most needed. For example, portable x-ray units that float around the hospital may or may not need that urgent instant view, depending on the department.

Should an OR only have an analog portable unit available, a RadStation could easily transform it into a DR system, complete with a DR workstation and a quick-connect DR cassette.

Consequently, administrators can station the RadStation DR imaging where it is needed and then use whatever x-ray source happens to be in the area. A universal interface with quick-connects allows the system to deliver full digital capability without mechanical modifications.

“It’s not just the cassette,” said Harmon. “There is also the workstation that’s built into a mobile cart with battery power.”

In addition, as a completely transportable DR system with batteries, there is no need to find a plug when the RadStation is pulled into a room for a “stat” DR.

Asked why the company had not designed a system with a wireless cassette, Harmon said that it purposely chose to design a tethered detector over a wireless platform because the tethered design allowed IMIX to reduce its price and include the full mobile workstation.

The RadStation’s list price is $130,000 US, which includes the tethered 14″ x 17″ IMIX Slimline detector with a-Si/TFT technology, a compact pc with a 19″ color touch screen, the mobile cart, and enough battery power to run all day on a single charge, according to Harmon.

While RadStation is compact, Harmon stresses that it is “transportable” not “portable.”

“You wouldn’t normally push this around with a portable machine and do your work,” said Harmon. “If you really needed a portable equipped DR, you would buy that. This is more for larger institutions that have a fleet of portables and it allows them not to have to equip every one of them with DR.”

As a transportable all-in-one DR platform, the IMIX RadStation fills an economical option for facilities wishing to transition their x-ray fleet into DR.

—Tor Valenza

Canon Builds on Portable DR Line

Canon?s newest system, the CXDI-70C Wireless Digital Radiography System, recently received 510(k) clearance from the FDA.

Over the last several years, digital radiography (DR) has proven that it is the worthy successor to traditional, plain film x-ray technology. Now, Canon U.S.A. Inc has taken DR to the next level by expanding its line of portable systems designed to meet the needs of every health enterprise.

According to Anne Ji, marketing supervisor for Canon, portability is the linchpin to an efficient radiology department. “Portability is the only true way to get workflow,” she said. The company has been offering portable systems since 2001.

Among these portable systems are the CXDI-55G and CXDI-55C Digital Radiography systems. The 55G is a gadolinium detector that is ideal for chest and other thick anatomy on adults. The 55C is a cesium detector and is suited both for extremity DR and for use on children because of its lower dose. The systems have an effective imaging area of 14 x 17 inches and weigh just 7.5 pounds. This and a simple grip handle allow both the patient and x-ray technician to easily hold the detector in place during the scan. Transport and installation are made easy thanks to a detachable sensor cable. Ji said that the detachable cable is a great advantage for technicians and patients because it allows for the detector to be positioned in a way that is comfortable and convenient.

After exposure, images can be immediately confirmed on an optional preview monitor. If another exposure is required—due to either a retake or the need to image a different part of the patient’s anatomy—the detector can be ready in a few seconds, because of the systems’ fast refresh cycle. Managing images is easy as well. Both systems allow for the seamless data transfer to any DICOM2 device, PACS, or RIS, making data management, printing, archiving, and remote viewing fast and efficient.

Ji noted that these portable systems offer many of Canon’s customers the flexibility of having a system that may be portable in the morning, but then in a dedicated room in the afternoon.

Building on the 55G and 55C DR systems, Canon’s newest portable, the CXDI-70C Wireless Digital Radiography System, recently received 510(k) clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration, and is the company’s lightest portable system, weighing in at just 7.5 lbs, including the battery. Only available in the “C” configuration, the cesium detector gives the system high sensitivity, but is safer for pediatric and extremity imaging, and has better image quality. Like the 55 systems, it features a 14 x 17 inch image area, which is the same size as an ISO 4090-compliant film cassette. The wireless system includes a glass substrate with a pixel pitch of 125 microns.

The company’s CXDI-50RF Dynamic/Static Digital Radiography System is the first one to cross over to fluoroscopy and dynamic imaging, according to Ji. It also features another first for Canon—it is the company’s first portable dual panel detector, allowing health care facilities to leverage their space by not having to build a second, dedicated room for dynamic imaging.

Like the company’s other portable systems, it is equipped with a 14 x 17 inch imaging area, and is able to capture dynamic images up to 30 frames per second or static images of the chest or extremities. The dynamic imaging can be used to observe the dynamics of organs, including digestion. The static mode can also be imaged at up to 15 frames per second. In fluoroscopy mode, the sensor unit can be used in a docking station, similar to a cassette tray, which is equipped with an active air cooling system.

While these portable systems are designed to optimize workflow and capture high-resolution images, Canon also brings a few other advantages to the table. These include the fact that every component that goes into a Canon system is built by the company and not by other original equipment manufacturers. Service is also handled by the company or Canon-trained dealers, said Ji.

—C.A. Wolski

Radiology Department on Wheels

Dennis Whitsell, co-owner of PDQ Mobile X-Ray, Paris, Tex, readily admits that he and co-owner Graham Lane and their team put the company’s Viztek Opal-RAD Web-based PACS and Opal-CR through their paces.

But that’s to be expected considering that the PDQ’s fleet of eight mobile x-ray vans have to travel over some of the toughest terrain around to serve the company’s rural clients throughout central and northeast Texas, southeast Oklahoma, and southwest Arkansas, which include doctors, nursing homes, imaging centers, and home health agencies. This has meant that Whitsell’s team has had to image patients in less than ideal circumstances—including on their front porches.

Viztek has been helping deliver these services since the company was formed in 2006, and has been a big part of what’s made PDQ successful, says Whitsell. “I consider our choice of using Viztek’s systems the best choice we’ve made,” he said.

Performing about 1,000 scans per month, PDQ technicians can rely on Viztek’s equipment to deliver the results they need, from acquiring the images to transmitting them to radiologists for interpretation. And all from the comfort of one of the company’s eight Honda Elements, which Whitsell calls “radiology departments on wheels.”

The Viztek scanners have also allowed the company to grow. For instance, PDQ recently upgraded to Viztek’s new Opal-CR scanners. Whitsell said that it was very easy to change out the scanners and keep the company’s services up and running.

The compact, tabletop devices are well suited to the vans’ limited space. The Opal-CR can deliver up to 56 plates per hour with crisp, high-quality images. Because of the speed of acquisition and the ability to transmit the results, preliminary reports have been turned around in as little as 5 minutes, though they typically take a bit less than an hour.

While image quality is an important facet in operating an imaging service, the key to PDQ’s success is building a reliable service and this is what the company was able to do with Viztek. Whitsell says that Viztek offers total support to PDQ. And because of the punishing terrain that the vans have to trek over, it’s not uncommon that there might be a problem with one of the scanners by the time they show up at a patient’s front door. When the company started, Whitsell says that he used to stress out about technical issues, but not anymore, and that’s testament to Viztek’s customer service.

That support begins with the ability—thanks to Wi-Fi connections or a phone—to be able to connect with a Viztek support person no matter where the van might be. “It’s almost like we have a support person in the van with us,” said Whitsell.

But the service continues from there. Whitsell said that he once had a problem with a scanner that wasn’t working, and, after a brief call to Viztek, the company shipped a brand-new one the next day. For PDQ’s co-owner, probably the most impressive bit of customer service was when Viztek put a technician on a plane and flew him to Texas from Florida with a crucial part that the mobile radiology company needed to keep one of its vans up and running.

Finally, Whitsell also relies on the scanner’s ease of use. “I went through a 30- to 45-minute in-service and then went out immediately and began doing my first x-ray scans with it. That’s how easy it is to use,” he said.

Taken together, Whitsell says that Viztek is able to help PDQ technicians to fulfill the goal of the company and “exceed customer expectations.”

And this, in the end, is the most important thing for him, because he believes that in-home service, such as mobile imaging, is the future of health care. “Statistically, more services are rendered in the home,” said Whitsell. “Meeting patients’ needs in their home and developing those markets are critical.”

—C.A. Wolski

New & Noteworthy: CX50 POC Ultrasound

Philips? new CX50 POC ultrasound promises portability plus high-quality imaging.

Can ultrasound image quality and portability live in harmony? Equipment makers have gotten better with each passing year, and engineers at Philips Healthcare believe the new CX50 Point of Care (POC) brings the two features closer than ever.

Regional anesthesia departments, ICUs, and emergency departments are likely to use and appreciate the new device the most. “Clinicians in these areas are conducting quick and focused ultrasound scans,” said Marienne Sanders, senior marketing manager, Philips. “This is different from the radiology department that is typically conducting longer, expanded ultrasound examinations. The CX50 POC is designed for clinicians who are caring for patients at the bedside, and are using ultrasound to guide procedures or assist in quick decision making.”

After Philips miniaturized some of the advanced technologies to create a more compact system, Sanders believes the POC stands up well next to the larger premium units. As a result, new machines will contribute to greater convenience for clinicians and better patient care. “Obesity in North America is increasing all the time, and many of these larger patients are on ventilators and critically ill,” said Toni Burkett, program manager, Training and Education, Philips. “It is crucial for physicians to be able to make an accurate decision about the next step in managing these patients. The patients need a diagnosis, and you can use the CX50 to get more information.”

Sanders agrees that portability matters when clinicians are dealing with really sick people in the ICU, particularly the larger patients. The CX50 POC offers a broad range of capabilities needed for ultrasound-guided procedures and focused exams, including cardiac, vascular access, lung, abdominal, OB/GYN, and musculoskeletal.

A survey at one of Philips’ key customer sites in Montreal showed that utilization of the CX50 to scan “technically difficult” patients had yielded excellent results. “Compared to the traditional, compact ultrasound systems they had been using in the ICU, the CX50 provided improved clinical value in 96% of the cases that they looked at and it changed patient diagnosis … in 77% of the cases,” said Sanders. “I think efficiency was the other big takeaway for them; it improved the efficiency of the exam in 95% of the cases. So it is a palpable impact even compared to other compact ultrasound units.”

According to Sanders and Burkett, the unit is well suited for:

  • technically difficult exams and procedures, including those for patients who are obese, unable to move, or on ventilators;
  • physicians who require a high level of confidence for point-of-care imaging decisions and procedures;
  • customers who value intuitive system controls and workflow features such as quick, one-button automated image optimization; and
  • customers who want a system that offers advanced capabilities that can grow with them as their ultrasound program expands.

—Greg Thompson