Ideas for Hospitals, Centers and Practices

Small Practice? Get a Small CR for Small Price!
GE Launches Education Series on Low Dose CT

Small Practice? Get a Small CR for Small Price!

Small medical practices are often the last to adapt to new imaging technology because of the high initial cost and subsequent slow return on investment for their low-volume practices.

FCR Prima has a small footprint and costs 25% less than the traditional CR system, according to the manufacturer.

To address this need in the imaging market, vendors are designing smaller digital x-ray products that appeal to non-hospital-based medical practices. The latest CR x-ray system to enter the low-volume market is the FCR Prima from FUJIFILM Medical Systems USA Inc, Stanford, Conn. According to company spokespersons, the FCR Prima will not only have a small footprint, but will also cost 25% less than a typical CR system.

The Need for Digital

X-ray imaging has been heading toward digital technologies for years now, but both large and small medical practices have yet to purchase their digital CR or DR systems due to either limited space or high costs. Other practices may have their old analog film workhorses with digital scanners and are making do until the old systems cost too much to service and maintain—and digital CR prices come down.

The new FCR Prima, released in August 2009, is positioning itself for these smaller market segments, such as podiatrists, chiropractors, veterinarians, family physicians, and urgent care centers.

Eddie Massetti, Fujifilm’s marketing manager for specialty markets, said the company is bringing down the cost by packaging the Fujifilm compact reader with their new image management software, called FCRview, thus eliminating the need for small practices to buy an additional PACS or miniPACS or workstations to view their images.

Massetti said, “The FCR Prima provides them with that all-in-one feature in that one box. So, based on that, they’re probably going to see a reduction of 25% of what they would currently pay now to get the CR unit with the small miniPACS attached to it and four viewing licenses to look at their images. So, we’ve eliminated the need for them to buy additional workstations.”

How small is “small” in terms of practice size? Massetti reported that in terms of throughput, the system allows for processing of up to 29 plates per hour, and will also be able to store close to 70,000 images.

Massetti said, “For some of these practices, that could be a lifetime because of their smaller volumes. In addition, the system comes with automatic DVD archiving, so we can archive all of their images and burn DVDs for all of their images once a week or how often they feel it’s needed.”

In terms of the practice’s space considerations, the CR unit measures 23.6″ W x 15.7″ D x 30.7″ H, making it small enough to fit into a large closet or a small exam room. Prima is also 30% lighter than its current, larger footprint system. Of course, for offices replacing their storage rooms or darkrooms, the Prima will allow for these spaces to be utilized for other purposes.

Finally, Fujifilm is highlighting the environmental cost of going digital, pointing out that the cost of consumables is eliminated, while soft copy viewing and storage replace the need to buy and dispose of chemicals.

The FCR Prima will begin shipping in August, with orders being accepted immediately. For more information, facilities can contact their local authorized Fujifilm representative or visit

—Tor Valenza

GE Launches Education Series on Low Dose CT

With the increasing number of CT scans being performed nationwide, GE Healthcare has recognized the importance of educating those who work in the medical community on the issues of radiation dose in CT along with new advances aimed at drastic dose reduction.

To that end, GE Healthcare launched its first of five CT dose reduction educational symposiums in Chicago this past June featuring keynote speaker Cynthia K. Rigsby, MD, Division Head of Body Imaging and Vice-Chair, Medical Imaging, at Children’s Memorial Hospital, Chicago. The seminar series is geared to practicing radiologists and CT technologists who operate or read CT scans regularly and is available tuition-free. In addition, attendees receive CE (continuing education) credits for their participation.

“GE’s commitment offers tremendous promise for equipping radiologists and technologists with breakthrough techniques to reduce dose within their daily practice. Through these events, GE will focus on sharing information and discussing techniques for both managing and minimizing dose, while maintaining the utmost in image quality,” explained Steve Gray, vice president and general manager of computed tomography, GE Healthcare.

Generally speaking, CT scans are performed by shooting x-rays at the patient and measuring how they pass through, similar to conventional radiographs (x-rays). In order to achieve the detailed anatomical pictures CT provides, many x-rays must be incident on the individual from all angles. This is the reason why a CT scan provides much more radiation dose than a conventional radiograph and why, historically, better images require more radiation exposure.

However, advances in hardware and software have allowed drastic dose reduction without compromising image quality. The symposium series will address some of these new technologies including GE’s ASIR iterative reconstruction technique that has provided up to a 50% dose reduction on the Discovery CT750HD scanner.

In addition to GE’s efforts at dose reduction techniques as well as basic information about multidetector CT and a radiation dose overview, special considerations for pediatric and cardiac scans will be presented.

For instance, children cannot simply be thought of as small adults as they are more sensitive to the effects of radiation. GE’s CT 4Kids addresses this and other pediatric CT issues.

Charles P. O’Brien, MD, president, Sanford USD Medical Center and Sanford Children’s Hospital, Sioux Falls, SD, commented on how GE solutions have benefited the hospital, “At Sanford Children’s Hospital, we’re dose-conscious within all of our modalities. Our use of ASIR on our 64-slice CT scanner has reduced our radiation exposure by 40%. As the first children’s hospital in the country to offer dose reduction technology with ASIR capability, we’ve been able to not only lower our dose but improve the image quality of all CT scans.”

The remaining scheduled events include seminars in Columbus, Ohio, on September 19; New York, on September 26; Seattle, on October 10, and Orlando, Fla, on October 24. More information and registration are provided through the GE’s Web site at

—Ed Wilson