Carestream?s newest DRX detector weighs 7.9 pounds. It displays a preview image in less than 4 seconds to help enhance radiology workflow.

Converting a hospital’s x-ray systems from CR to DR can be a harrowing task. Facilities have to take into account not only the overall cost of implementing new systems but also uptime, a staff’s ability to learn the new equipment, and the restructuring of individualized menu settings. As such, the West Virginia University Hospital, Morgantown, has taken a stepwise approach to converting the imaging systems of the 531-bed tertiary care center.

“We’re a big department so we had to transition,” said Crystal Rosenberger, RT(R)(M)(CT), manager-diagnostic radiology and CT imaging, radiology department, West Virginia University Hospital. “We just couldn’t transition all of our equipment at once, so we looked at different options. With Carestream having a product where you can actually convert your existing rooms to DR with the option to still remain CR, that became a feasible option. That’s why we decided to try that.”

To date, the hospital has installed seven CARESTREAM DRX-1 Systems and four CARE-STREAM DRX-Mobile Retrofit kits in an effort to make the transition to a DR department. The hospital initially installed two DRX-1 systems in the hospital’s general radiology department and retrofitted one portable imaging system with a DRX-1 detector. The hospital then installed DRX detectors in another general radiology room and three portable imaging systems as well as four DRX-1 systems in outpatient imaging rooms at a large multiphysician clinic that is connected to the hospital. One portable imaging system is dedicated to the hospital’s Level 1 trauma center while three portable imaging systems conduct x-ray exams in the ICU and on hospital floors.

One of the features of the Carestream solutions that drew the interest of the hospital was the completely wireless detectors. Previously, the facility had tried to utilize a mobile DR system with a tethered detector, but it did not return the results that the staff hoped for.

“We had tried a DR portable unit a few years ago that had a tethered plate, and basically, you have to bring it back to a network station and plug it in,” said Rosenberger. “With the wireless, we are able to immediately look at and evaluate the images and then send them to PACS. The physicians and the radiologists have instant access to them. The techs can actually go and do several scans using the same plate and not carry 20 CR plates with them. They can keep working. It saves coming back to the department between all of the images.”

Those workflow gains—primarily, the ability to stay with patients and continue working without returning to a workstation—have been the most tangible benefits for the West Virginia University Hospital. However, the wireless detectors also bring a number of other improvements. For patients, Rosenberger notes that the detectors’ ability to quickly generate images and transmit them to the PACS has resulted in less repositioning of patients. Since the DR detectors are being used largely in a trauma center, many scans are being performed on broken bones and on patients in pain; reducing the amount of repositioning causes less pain to patients.

The other aspect of the detectors that typically draws attention is improved image quality and reduced dose. While Rosenberger states that the Carestream detectors are delivering higher image quality, the facility has not performed any one-to-one comparisons regarding dose reduction between their current and previous systems. One thing she does say, however, is that the new detectors have significantly reduced repeat scans, lowering overall dosage.

“You have a little more latitude with the DR,” said Rosenberger. “If you happen to be off center, you wouldn’t have to repeat your image. It doesn’t affect your image quality at all because the detector is uniform. It’s not like scanning with a CR plate. In that respect, we have reduced our repeat rate based on those kinds of practice.”

With six existing CR units, the West Virginia University Hospital still has plans to upgrade to DR technology in the future. And with the success of the Carestream DR installation, Rosenberger believes the facility will stick with CARESTREAM DRX systems going forward because of the company’s support, the ease of use, and, not least of all, the durability of the detectors.

“The plates take a beating because we are very hard on them,” said Rosenberger. “We’ve dropped them. We’ve banged them. They’ve worked out very well for us and the service is very good about replacing them in a timely manner. We’re a very busy place so turnaround time on things like that is very important also.”