by Cat Vasko

· Fluke Offering Free Dosimeter
· Mammography PACS, Workstations, and the Digital Conversion
· Get the Lead Out!
· Hospital Adopts Direct Digital System

Fluke Offering Free Dosimeter

The Rad-Check Plus Dosimeter, available for free with certain Fluke x-ray service kits, enables complete system evaluation.

Fluke Biomedical, a division of Fluke Corp, Everett, Wash, is offering a free dosimeter alongside their x-ray service kits through the end of the year. The 06-526 Rad-Check Plus Dosimeter will be packaged with both the 199XRAY and 35080M199XRAY ScopeMeter for x-ray imaging service and quality assurance.

The 35080M199XRAY kit contains all the tools needed for kV, mAs, dose, exposure time, and video signal analysis, with the additional functionality of a handheld digital oscilloscope and digital multimeter. The 199XRAY kit offers the same bundle of tools without the kVp divider. Adding the Rad-Check Plus Dosimeter gives the kit the ability to measure every required x-ray parameter, enabling complete system evaluation.

“For those already servicing imaging equipment or just getting started, these ScopeMeter kits with free dosimeter are an accurate, reliable alternative to a traditional service kit,” said Gary Kaufmann, product manager, Fluke Biomedical.

The promotion expires December 31, 2007.

—Cat Vasko

Mammography PACS, Workstations, and the Digital Conversion

The Synapse PACS from Fujifilm is optimized to ease the transition from film to digital.

On July 9, Fujifilm Medical Systems USA Inc, Stamford, Conn, introduced the latest version of its PACS. Synapse 3.2 contains enhancements to the company’s reading protocol technology and to its mammography capabilities; equipped to address the rapid adoption of digital mammography with advanced capabilities for soft copy interpretation of mammography, it is a desirable choice for breast imaging. But can the right PACS—and, by extension, the right workstations—really make a big difference when it comes to making the digital conversion?

You bet, say the team at Lenox Hill Hospital, New York. Their transition began just about a year ago, when they went live with computed radiography (CR) for digital mammography. “We went live all at once,” explained Dana Ostrow, PACS manager at Lenox Hill. “We set it up so that instead of using traditional cassettes, we were using CR cassettes, and processing them in the CR reader instead of running them through a film processor.”

Lenox Hill’s PACS is the Fujifilm Synapse, which offers a multitude of helpful features to ease the transition. “If I’m reading a mammo on a patient, and the mammo was recommended because she had a CT scan the week before and they saw something on it, I can just pull her scans up on the workstation and look at them,” said Kristin Byrne, MD, chief of breast imaging at Lenox Hill. “The software can also add different hanging protocols.”

The team decided against digitizing their priors, which Byrne says they manage efficiently thanks to their setup. “When we have priors, we just hang them on a lightbox, turn our heads to the side and look, and then compare with what’s on the computer.” Asked whether this isn’t a burdensome—not to mention eye-straining—way to operate, she noted, “I’m working basically at one workstation, so I have it set up perfectly for me.”

“It was primarily a financial consideration,” Ostrow noted. “We also do a much higher number of diagnostics, such as screening, so film isn’t going to just go away. We’re also still waiting for digital CAD.”

But even without it, the department is realizing new efficiencies left and right. “It used to be a much bigger hassle when a referring physician called with a question,” Ostrow noted. “Now it just happens.”

Added Byrne, “It decreases the number of recalls. It’s much easier to make a decision based on the images you already have. And we’re doing breast MR now, and that’s on the same workstation as the digital mammo.”

—C. Vasko

Get the Lead Out!

New Thermocomp Composites for X-Ray Shielding

LNP Thermocomp high-density compounds offer x-ray shielding without the use of toxic substances; the use of injection molding also means greater design freedom.

A new line of thermoplastic materials with high specific gravity (HSG) from GE Plastics, Pittsfield, Mass, could replace lead in many health care applications that call for radiation shielding. The LNP Thermocomp high-density compounds enable x-ray shielding without the use of known toxic substances and offer greater design freedom and higher-volume manufacturing through the use of injection molding.

“Lead continues to present health and disposal challenges to manufacturers of radiation-shielding products,” said Clare Frissora, market director, Healthcare, GE Plastics. “We’re very pleased to offer a new alternative to lead that can enable these manufacturers to design safer solutions. Our LNP Thermocomp HSG x-ray shielding compounds also provide the opportunity for design and cost advantages over lead in a wide range of health care applications.”

The new compounds, based on tungsten in nylon 6, have been shown to shield radiation up to the effectiveness of lead without leakage or hot spots. They can be made with enhanced stiffness, strength, and impact resistance for demanding injection-molding applications.

GE Healthcare, Waukesha, Wis, chose one of the compounds for use in the collimator of its OEC 9800 x-ray machine. “Replacing lead with LNP Thermocomp HSG compound in our x-ray equipment may help us provide a higher level of safety for patients and caregivers,” noted David Barker, engineering manager at GE Healthcare. “Part-to-part consistency made possible by injection molding facilitates uniform shielding, and gives designers precise control over the amount of radiation filtered through their devices.”

GE Plastics is working with a custom injection molder to create new grades of the material matching the specific gravity of lead, including a flexible version for specialized applications.

—C. Vasko

Hospital Adopts Direct Digital System

Streamlines Imaging Process, Enhances Patient Care

Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, Carbondale, Ill, recently installed the three-panel Q-Rad-Digital ceiling-mounted system from Quantum Medical Imaging, Ronkonkoma, NY. The 132-bed facility, which is part of the Southern Illinois Healthcare system, serves as the regional medical center for southern Illinois. The new system incorporates features that not only facilitate digital imaging, but also allow technologists to spend more time at their patients’ sides.

Featuring a five-tiered telescoping column and an overhead horizontal and transverse track, the ceiling-mounted direct-digital system accommodates any imaging procedure. “With this configuration, the hospital will experience an increase in patient care, in addition to increasing their patient throughput,” David Wiser, Quantum’s director of national sales, said in a press statement.

The hospital chose a system featuring the Canon tri-panel direct radiography (DR) receptor solution, which includes the CXDI-40EG wall stand, the CXDI-50EG DR table, and the portable CXDI-31 to facilitate positioning for cross-table examinations. The ceiling-mounted tube support is designed for hospital emergency departments, imaging centers, and orthopedic facilities with an optimum ceiling height of 9 feet. The mobile, float-top, elevating table can accommodate patients of up to 700 pounds and features an elevation travel range of 22.5 inches to 33.75 inches.

The system also includes TechVision, a feature that offers two-way generator integration and image preview. This allows technologists to view and set up all exposure parameters at tube-side. If a patient needs assistance or comfort, technologists can use the same technology tube-side that they would when working with the operator control panel. Within 6 to 9 seconds, they can view x-rays directly on the TechVision’s in-room, color, touch-panel display, which is mounted at the x-ray source tube assembly.

While they also can use an operator control panel outside of the room, TechVision allows technologists to stay with patients during positioning, which eliminates trips between the patient and the operator control panel during patient exam preparation. The display interface allows technologists to make quality assurance determinations before repositioning the patient and without leaving the room. For each part of the anatomy to be examined, the touch-screen DR console with TechVision provides technologists with automated, preprogrammed generator exposure techniques.

The system is designed to improve digital workflow, as the synchronized generator solution decreases overall examination time while streamlining the imaging process. For more information, visit

—Ann H. Carlson