Four Ways Radiology Can Reduce Its Climate Change Impact

Typically, climate change (a.k.a. global warming) is associated with planes, trains, and automobiles using fossil fuels, hazy skies, and radioactive plants pushing clouds into the atmosphere. However, the radiologic industry plays a more significant role than you might imagine, and industry leaders say the time to reduce that impact is now.

Published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, a team of industry experts, including Geraldine McGinty, M.D., MBA, president of the American College of Radiology (ACR), issued a call-to-action statement.

“Radiology is well-positioned to spearhead climate change action in our practices and the healthcare system at large. Addressing climate change provides an opportunity to improve healthcare delivery and increase value of care using a different problem-solving approach,” said the team.

The Yale University School of Medicine released data that shows 10 percent of the nation’s carbon emissions (and nine percent of harmful non-greenhouse air pollutants) originate from the United States healthcare system.

Radiology is a significant contributor to each hospital’s energy use. In Switzerland, as the team pointed out, their three CT and four MRI scanners accounted for four percent of the hospital’s overall energy use. Being more environmentally conscious isn’t specific to the industry; it’s a patent priority as well. In the United Kingdom, a survey conducted showed that 92 percent of patients also consider sustainable healthcare operations vital.

Substantial energy use: Radiology utilizes an enormous amount of energy. In the span of a year, cumulative consumption from one CT scanner can equate to five four-person households. A single MRI uses nearly as much as 26 four-person residences. If at all possible, opt for ultrasound instead. Not only is it cheaper, but it also uses less radiation and has a lower environmental impact. Moreover, using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to shorten MRI protocols can lower energy use. To further reduce the carbon footprint, implementing life cycle analyses can quantify the environmental impact of various modalities.

Standby mode: To reduce the amount of energy used by the imaging machines, use standby mode. Even when idle, they are consuming significant amounts of energy, according to the team. Cooling machines take an equal amount of energy to operate. The team recommends a 24-hour operating cycle, as well as exploring energy-efficient HVAC systems and imaging technique improvements.

Power down: Though leaving the PACS on overnight might be more convenient and efficient for workload management, the team suggests turning the machine off overnight. A hospital in Iceland left its systems on overnight and accumulated 25,040 kilowatts of energy, producing 17.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide. These levels are equivalent to the emissions produced by four passenger cars annually. To decrease costs and improve energy efficiency, powering down can be an easy way to accomplish these goals. Additionally, the team suggested reducing excess packaging in your procedures to drive down the environmental costs in production and disposal.

Opt for clean energy: The team said now is the time to shift from fossil fuels and lean toward renewable energy. As prices are dropping, several facilities are already making progress. For example, Kaiser Permanente has achieved carbon-neutrality, and Gundersen Health System is already net carbon positive.

To make these changes a reality, radiologists need to become activists, according to the team. Lobby local ACR chapters to join national efforts or reach out to specialty societies to further push environmentally sustainable radiology. Publishing carbon footprints can help other medical departments understand the environmental dangers associated with over-utilization.

Radiologists are urged to join the Medical Society Consortium on Climate Health, which includes 29 national medical societies, as suggested by the team.

Acceletronics is an industry leader in delivering the best equipment performance and service reliability from CT Scanners and Linear Accelerators across all major brands and models. Call 610-524-3300 or visit our website: https://www.acceletronics.com.

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FDA Authorizes New Device That Protects Athletes’ Brains During Impact

The United States Food and Drug Administration recently authorized a novel product that recent Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) shows might protect athletes’ brains from traumatic injury.

A c-shaped, non-invasive device dubbed the “Q-Collar” goes around the neck and applies compression, which increases blood volume, therefore reducing brain movement.  

Several FDA studies proved the effectiveness and safety. One such study included a long-term analysis of 284 participants, age 13 and older. A total of 139 athletes wore the collars, and 145 did not; both underwent head MRI before and after the season.

To compare structural changes after a season of play, researchers also generated diffusion tensor imaging of the brain. Significant differences were noted in the deep tissue involved in transmitting electrical nerve signals in 73 percent of the collarless group. Those who were equipped with the Q-Collar showed no change in white matter throughout 77 percent of the group.

“These differences appear to indicate protection of the brain associated with the device use. No significant adverse events were associated with device use,” The FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health reported.

An estimated 3.8 million sports-related traumatic brain injuries occur in the United States yearly, according to The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Along with the Q-Collar manufacturer Q30 Sports Science, FDA officials hope the device will lower this number, reducing “slosh” by creating a tighter fit of the brain in the skull through increased blood volume.

The Q-Collar should not be used in place of helmets or other protective devices. Athletes with a history of seizure disorders, brain blood clots, or problems with blood clotting, in general, should not use the device.

For more information, read the full FDA report.

Acceletronics is an industry leader in delivering the best equipment performance and service reliability from CT Scanners and Linear Accelerators across all major brands and models. Call 610-524-3300 or visit our website: https://www.acceletronics.com.

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Artificial Intelligence Learning Action Plan Released by FDA

The United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has released their first Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)-Based Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) Action Plan. Detailed throughout the plan is a multi-pronged approach to “Advance the Agency’s oversight of AI/ML-based medical software,” according to the article.

Bakul Patel, director of the Digital Health Center of Excellence in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) said, “This action plan outlines the FDA’s next steps towards furthering oversight for AI/ML-based SaMD. The plan outlines a holistic approach based on total product lifecycle oversight to further the enormous potential that these technologies have to improve patient care while delivering safe and effective software functionality that improves the quality of care that patients receive. To stay current and address patient safety and improve access to these promising technologies, we anticipate that this action plan will continue to evolve over time.”

Five actions that the FDA intends to take based on the action plan include:

  • Further developing the proposed regulatory framework, including through the issuance of draft guidance on a predetermined change control plan (for software to learn in time)
  • Supporting the development of good machine learning practices to evaluate and improve machine learning algorithms
  • Fostering a patient-centered approach, including device transparency to users
  • Developing methods to assess and enhance machine learning algorithms
  • Advancing real-world performance monitoring pilots

This action plan was sparked by stakeholder feedback and is implemented as a response to the discussion. The FDA welcomes continual input and will continue to collaborate and build a coordinated approach in AI/ML areas.

The FDA is responsible for the safety and security of America’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that emit radiation, and regulating tobacco products. The agency also protects public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines, biological products for human use, and medical devices.

To read more about the FDA’s Action plan, see the full press release on their website.

Acceletronics is an industry leader in delivering the best equipment performance and service reliability from CT Scanners and Linear Accelerators across all major brands and models. Call 610-524-3300 or visit our website: https://www.acceletronics.com.

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Study Shows Drastic Decline in Cancer Screenings During COVID-19 Surge

According to a study published in JAMA Oncology by researchers at Dana-Farber/Bringham and Women’s Cancer Center, researchers documented a sharp drop in cancer and pre-cancer diagnoses at the Northeast’s most extensive health care system. Due to the first peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, a decrease in the number of screenings occurred.

Documented as one of the first studies to examine the impact of COVID-19 on cancer diagnoses, the findings confirm concerns that restrictions might have delayed the detection of many cancers. In the months following the initial peak, cancer screenings and diagnoses rebounded to pre-pandemic levels.

“It’s widely thought that fewer people were screened for cancer and pre-cancerous lesions during the first surge of the pandemic, because limitations on non-urgent medical procedures, restrictions on patient volume, patients’ concerns about the spread of the virus, and the need for social distancing,” said Ziad Bakouny, M.D. MSc, a co-author of the study. “For this study, we wanted to document the extent of this deadline, and its impact on cancer diagnoses, at a major U.S. healthcare system.”

Patient data from the Massachusetts General Bingham system of hospitals were used for the study. The number of mammograms, colonoscopies, Papinicolaou (“Pap”) tests for cervical cancer, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests, and low-dose Computed Tomography (CT) tests was all tracked for four three-month periods. March 2 to June 2, 2020, the previous three months, the subsequent three months, and the same three months in 2019 were all used in the study.

During the peak period, the statistics show a sharp decline in cancer screenings. In 2019, between March and June, 60,344 patients underwent screening exams. In 2020, a total of 15,453 patients had screening exams, compared to 64,269 in the previous three months. In the post-peak three-month period, screening levels mostly recovered to 51,944.

Unexpectedly, cancer diagnoses also declined during the COVID-19 peak. The researchers estimated that roughly 1,438 cancers and pre-cancerous growths were left undiagnosed during that period. Cancers are easier to treat when detected at early stages, so those that were overlooked could potentially be worse or life-threatening.

Bakouny remarked, “It’s reassuring, though, to see that in the three-month post-peak period, the number of screening tests and diagnoses resulting from those tests returned to near-normal level.”

Co-senior author Quoc-Dien Trinh, M.D., of Bingham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), said, “This investigation is especially timely given that we are currently dealing with a second, and potentially worse wave of the pandemic. We have learned to leverage a redesigned patient flow, increased use of telehealth, and made other accommodations to allow our patients to continue in receiving cancer screenings in the safest possible environment.”  

Acceletronics is an industry leader in delivering the best equipment performance and service reliability from CT Scanners and Linear Accelerators across all major brands and models. Call 610-524-3300 or visit our website: https://www.acceletronics.com.

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New Imaging Can Measure Cell Dysfunction in ALS Patients

More effective therapies could potentially be introduced thanks to a new magnetic resonance spectroscopy technique that can accurately measure how well the mitochondria are functioning in patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS.) This non-invasive procedure may help measure the efficacy of treatments for ALS (also known as Motor Neuron Disease [MND]) patients.

Scientists from Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom tested how the 31-phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy performed, publishing their findings in the January 13 issue of Brain.

Lead study author Dr. Matilde Sassani, a neurodegeneration researcher at Sheffield, said, “In this study, we found that phosphocreatine levels were depleted in the brain compared to healthy controls and, in this muscle, we found that inorganic phosphates were elevated in patients with MND. Both of these findings are consistent with mitochondrial dysfunction occurring in these people living with MND.”

People with ALS suffer from impaired mitochondrial function, so having a technique that can effectively and accurately measure mitochondrial activity could be critical to treatment.

In the study, the imaging technique was used to measure a chemical involved in the cell’s energy metabolism. ALS patients were compared to healthy age and gender-matched controls. The procedure resembles an MRI; the process allows investigators to capture a direct measurement of chemicals. This snapshot gives them the appropriate data needed to calculate a comprehensive view of a patient with MND.

Senior author Dr. Thomas Jenkins, a clinical senior lecturer at SITraN, said the newfound technique could pave the way for more effective MND treatments and potentially measure how effective medications are.

Jenkins said, “Treatments that aim to rescue mitochondrial function in MND are being investigated in labs around the world. This non-invasive tool can demonstrate whether medications in development are successfully targeting mitochondria, which is an important step in selecting treatments to take through clinical trials.”

Patients with other forms of neurodegenerative diseases might also benefit from this technique, though further research is needed.

To read additional information, refer to the article in the latest issue of Brain, a Journal of Neurology.

Acceletronics is an industry leader in delivering the best equipment performance and service reliability from CT Scanners and Linear Accelerators across all major brands and models. Call 610-524-3300 or visit our website: https://www.acceletronics.com.

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Brain Scans Can Predict Music-Induced Emotions

In Finland at the University of Turku, researchers in the national PET Centre recently discovered neural mechanisms that arise as an emotional response to music. Subjects who participated in the study (102) listened to emotion-evoking music while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

To map which brain regions are activated based on different music-inducing emotions, researchers created a machine-learning algorithm. Postdoctoral Researcher Vesa Putkinen said, “Based on the activation of the auditory and motor cortex, we were able to accurately predict whether the research subject was listening to happy or sad music. The auditory cortex process the acoustic elements of music, such as rhythm and melody.  Activation of the motor cortex, then again, may be related to the fact that music inspires feelings of movement in the listeners even when they are listening to music while holding still in an MRI machine.”

Specific brain regions are activated when humans watch videos that evoke strong emotions. This was better discerned by the researchers who tested whether the same areas were activated while listening to music that evokes emotions. The results indicate that emotions evoked by film and sounds are based on different brain synapses.

Real-life situations are mimicked in films, which activate the deeper parts of the brain that regulate emotions. These regions were not strongly activated while listening to music, nor did it separate the music-induced emotions from one another. Researchers hypothesize this difference stems from the fact that films are more realistic in portraying real-life events that evoke emotions and brain synapses; cultural influences and personal history impact music-induced emotions based on music’s acoustic characteristics.  

In the past, music-induced emotions have been studied through classical instrumental music. Putkinen stated, “We wanted to use only instrumental music in this study as well, so that lyrics did not impact the emotions of the research subjects. However, we included film music and songs by the guitar virtuoso Yngwie J. Malmsteen.”

Click here to see a video showing how brains reacted while listening to the song “Far Beyond the Sun,” performed by Yngwie J. Malmsteen, which was used in the study. For further reading, check out the original press release from the University of Turku, published in the Cerebral Cortex Journal. To participate in their latest experiment called, “Music-Induced Emotions           in the Body,” check out Onni.  

Acceletronics is an industry leader in delivering the best equipment performance and service reliability from CT Scanners and Linear Accelerators across all major brands and models. Call 610-524-3300 or visit our website: https://www.acceletronics.com.

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MRI Providers: Watch for Patients with Metal Face Masks & Magnetic Eyelashes

Technologists are well-aware of the possibility of metal burns from MRI machines. Due to the components of an MRI, all metal must be removed prior to patients entering Zone III, the space before entering the scanner room. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world to wear face masks in public indoor areas, including medical procedures. Also, of recent fashion trends, women have become more prone to use magnetic eyelashes, a beauty product that is easier to apply and remove. Both have resulted in MRI patient injuries.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement warning health care providers that patients might be injured if they wear face masks with metal parts during a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) exam. These small metal parts are usually found within the nose area or throughout the mask fabric. Nose clips, wires, ultrafine particles, or antimicrobial coating (silver or copper) can become hot and burn MRI patients.

This note of caution comes as a patient received burns from donning a face mask during an MRI. “The FDA is reminding patients and providers that patients should not wear any metal during an MRI,” according to the statement issued.

The Journal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics issued a report explaining how magnetic eyelashes are unsafe in an MRI; some lashes can rapidly become moving projectiles. False eyelashes are placed onto magnetic eyeliner (applied to eyelids) or discreetly clamp around natural eyelashes. Patients might forget to mention the eyelashes and MRI technicians might not notice them.

All medical providers should screen patients for MRI safety. Tiny metallic objects within face masks or fake eyelashes can easily slide past an initial assessment. If patients experience burns while wearing face masks, providers are encouraged to report the incident to the FDA. Gathered reports help the FDA improve patient safety.

For more information regarding the FDA’s warning, read the full report. The complete journal article pertaining to magnetic eyelashes can be found here.

Acceletronics is an industry leader in delivering the best equipment performance and service reliability from CT Scanners and Linear Accelerators across all major brands and models. Call 610-524-3300 or visit our website: https://www.acceletronics.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Acceletronics is Proudly a US-Exclusive Distributor of CNERGY


New solutions were discovered through a collaboration of partners in radiotherapy. CNERGY is an innovative solution for “Quality Assurance & Safety,” “Precision, Imaging, and Viewing,” “Patient Identification and Monitoring,” and “Advanced Couch Setup and Control.” These solutions were created in response to specific practical issues, employing the latest guaranteed technologies. Joining these forces will deliver synergistic precision and safety for radiologists and patients.

Accurate and safe radiotherapy treatments are achieved using CNERGY Quality Assurance and Safety. Patients are positioned in the most effective way based on image verification or CBCT registration results. This ensures safety margins are reduced around the target and critical organs. The entire workflow is secured using interlocks.

Radiotherapy treatments are unique; with CNERGY Precision, Imaging and Viewing Solutions, the best treatment will be applied. Total body treatments, fast double 2D kV, or MV imaging are all offered under CNERGY’s exclusive Image-Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT) abilities that correctly verify the patient’s position.

A crucial aspect of radiotherapy is Patient Identification and Monitoring. CNERGY ensures the correct patient receives the proper treatment. The most advanced techniques are implemented to help radiotherapy clinics abide by all current regulations.

Advanced Couch Setup and Control is a unique CNERGY solution encompassing six degrees of freedom corrections in clinic settings. The same software and user interface allow patients to be treated easily. No extra workload is needed, so non-stereotactic patients can be positioned with precision.

To learn more about the CNERGY solution, visit our website.

Acceletronics is an industry leader in delivering the best equipment performance and service reliability from CT Scanners and Linear Accelerators across all major brands and models. Call 610-524-3300 or visit our website: https://www.acceletronics.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

National Radiologic Week Celebrates Technologists

Few people and professions have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic as much as radiology technicians. They have directly impacted patients and taken a front-seat approach to the outbreak, as they work closely with coronavirus patients daily.

National Radiologic Technology Week (NRTW) marks the centennial celebration for the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) but also serves as an opportunity to exhibit those who perform thousands of X-rays, MRIs, CTs, mammograms, nuclear medicine, cardiac and vascular international, and ultrasound procedures weekly. NRTW is celebrated annually to recognize the vital work of radiologic technologists across the nation. It commemorates the discovery of the x-ray by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen on November 8, 1895.

Over 340,000 radiologic technologists have conducted chest X-rays, CT scans, and cardiac ultrasounds for COVID-19 patients. These lifesaving techniques have been critical in detecting and managing virus progression. Proper ventilation placement and ensuring patients receive appropriate care is of the utmost importance when dealing with pandemic patients.

To learn more about NRTW, check out the American Society of Radiologic Technologists website. For purchasing radiologic equipment, contact the experts at Acceletronics today.

Acceletronics is an industry leader in delivering the best equipment performance and service reliability from CT Scanners and Linear Accelerators across all major brands and models. Call 610-524-3300 or visit our website: https://www.acceletronics.com.


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Brain Tumor Visibility Doubled with New MRI Technique

When compared to existing visualization methods, a new 3D technique with MRI scans doubles the visibility of brain tumors. Since a large number of tumors are discernable, the new process has the potential to make it easier to treat them earlier and at smaller, more manageable stages.

Robert Edelman, M.D., is an inventor, lead author, and clinical professor of radiology. His work was shared in the Science Advances journal. He said, “Our goal is for the new technique – T1RESS – to help thousands of patients by allowing malignant tumors to be detected at an earlier, more curable stage.”

According to the American Brain Tumor Association, 700,000 Americans are living with brain tumors and 16,000 will die this year. The new MRI technique can catch the tiny malignant tumors that often escape notice, potentially saving lives and improving outcomes. 

The hope is that those patients undergoing surgery or radiotherapy will receive better clinical outcomes by making the tumor margins on contrast-enhanced scans more visible.

Edelman and his colleagues studied brain tumors in 54 patients to determine how well T1RESS works. He applied magnetic fields and radio waves used to generate MRI signals differently from existing imaging techniques. The new technique uniquely manipulates brain tissue signals to produce images that offer significantly improved tumor visibility. This application makes T1RESS highly sensitive to the T1 shortening effects of paramagnetic contrast agents, but it also reduces the signal intensity of non-enhancing background issues, both improve tumor visualization.

Experimental results showed that the new technique provided a two-fold improvement over existing MRI methods in regards to the contrast between tumors and normal brain tissue. Edelman compared the visualization to seeing more stars: “There just isn’t enough contrast between the stars and the sunlit sky to make them visible. In the case of brain tumors, T1RESS doubles the contrast between tumors and normal brain, so the tumors are more easily detected. It’s like looking at the stars on a dark night instead of a sunny day,” Edelman said. 

A larger, multi-site trial will need to be performed in order to confirm the findings, but the plan is to apply this technique to both prostate and breast cancers as well. If the benefits are confirmed, widespread use will be as simple as the installation of a specialized software package.

Visit the Science Advances website to read the full journal article. For more information about CT Scanners, Linear Accelerators, and the like, contact Acceletronics today.
 

Acceletronics is an industry leader in delivering the best equipment performance and service reliability from CT Scanners and Linear Accelerators across all major brands and models. Call 610-524-3300 or visit our website: https://www.acceletronics.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.