Radiologists Urge Use of Medical Imaging and AI-Powered Solutions to Manage COVID-19

Recent high-profile cases of COVID-19 combined with the effort to aid in the ongoing battle  against the pandemic have prompted RADLogics to deploy the company’s AI (Artificial Intelligence)-Powered medical image analysis solution worldwide. The company urged U.S. clinicians to embrace medical imaging and emerging technologies such as AI. RADLogics has an AI-powered solution in place which has processed and analyzed thousands of suspected coronavirus cases globally. These efforts have eased the surging workload for radiology, ER, and ICU teams worldwide.

RADLogics strives to make its CT and X-ray AI-powered technology available to hospitals and healthcare systems throughout the U.S. This technology will assist in COVID-19 patient triage and management by providing quantitative analysis to clinical teams. Those patients who exhibit severe or worsening respiratory conditions are accurately assessed, allowing doctors to better triage patients based on those who urgently need intensive care such as ventilator support.

Moshe Becker, CEO and Co-Founder of RADLogics, said, “The use of CT and X-ray in the assessment and treatment plan for President Trump underscores the critical role that medical imaging must play in the fight against COVID-19. We must scale the capabilities of these medical imaging procedures rapidly to support clinicians, hospitals, and healthcare systems throughout the U.S. as they respond to the anticipated second wave of coronavirus and the roll-out of a potential vaccine. Now is the time for hospitals and healthcare providers to embrace and leverage the power of AI technologies and solutions to not only alleviate the increased burden associated with COVID-19 but to help support better outcomes by reducing burnout and errors while delivering better patient outcomes.”

Eliot Siegel, MD, Associate Vice Chair of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine said, “The ability of medical imaging – in combination with AI – to better discover and quantify the burden of COVID-19 has been well-documented. There would be tremendous clinical value in an AI algorithm that could establish and utilize a trajectory of change to predict which subset of patients might need more intense therapy such as medical ventilation, which subset of patients could be more confidently discharged, and predict subsequent clinical course. Today, there are many promising AI applications that have emerged that could allow us to address the major challenges that have hit the healthcare sector during the pandemic, and beyond as we plan to treat patients with COVID-related complications and as we provide diagnostic and therapeutic procedures that were delayed during the surge.”  

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Combined Study Results Indicate Possibilities for Lung Cancer Screening in New Zealand

Lung cancer screening might be one step closer to fruition in New Zealand thanks to newly discovered results by the University of Otago, published by medical journal BMJ Open. The indigenous Māori people of New Zealand are particularly susceptible to lung cancer, as their mortality rates are between three and four times higher than other ethnic groups. Around 450 Māori are diagnosed with lung cancer, and approximately 300 die from it yearly. If caught in the early stages, health outcomes for the Māori and other ethnic groups will undoubtedly improve.

To assess whether low-dose computerized tomography (LDCT) might be a cost-effective way to screen for lung cancer, Waitematā and Auckland DHBs collaborated with University of Otago researchers. Led by Associate Professor Sue Crengle (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Mamoe, Waitaha) from the University of Otago, the researchers used scientific modeling to estimate the benefits and costs of LDCT screening when it comes to a high-risk population. LDCT uses a small amount of radiation to produce an extremely clear three-dimensional image from a computerized x-ray.

“Having clarity about the cost-effectiveness of lung cancer screening provides further impetus to get this work started,” Associate Professor Crengle says. “If this works for Māori, then it will work for everyone else as well.”

Study findings suggested a national biennial lung cancer screening program is likely beneficial in terms of cost-effectiveness for not only the Māori but also the entire population of New Zealand. With early screening, the number of deaths will be reduced among the indigenous people. Countries with screening trials have seen a 20 to 26 percent reduction in lung cancer deaths.

For further reading, check out the original article by News Medical Life Sciences or the journal reference by BMJ Open.

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Radiotherapy Market Revenue to Expand by Eight Percent by 2030

In 2019, the global radiotherapy market revenue was set at $7,222.4 million. According to a P&S Intelligence report, an increasing number of cancer cases will cause revenue to climb by eight percent to $17,194.4 million by 2030.

Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in humans, killing 9.6 million people annually, according to the World Health Organization. The American Institute of Cancer Research estimates that by 2030, around 25 million cancer cases will be diagnosed yearly.

North America’s high incidence of cancer makes it the largest radiotherapy market globally. Additionally, established radiotherapy system providers and highly developed healthcare infrastructure are factors in the market scope. Residents in Canada and the United States have a higher level of disposable income than other countries, which allows them to afford treatment more quickly.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the radiotherapy market is subsequently experiencing growth as the focus of healthcare shifts from chronic disease to remedying the virus. What once were cancer-specialty hospitals are now COVID-19 care centers. Despite the circumstances, several hospitals are reopening their cancer wards, thereby increasing radiotherapy treatments.

Companies providing solutions to the increasing radiotherapy market opportunities are collaborating by creating partnerships and other working agreements in order to gain distribution partners for their equipment, offer clinicians a joint resolution of image-guided radiotherapy systems and Electronic Medical Record (EMR) platform, develop innovative markers for pre and clinical neurological and oncologic purposes, provide hospitals with cutting-edge proton therapy capabilities, and advance the radiotherapy system motion-tracking and rectification technologies.

To learn more about the expanding radiotherapy market, read this article by Prescient & Strategic Intelligence. Need to service your Linear Accelerator or CT scanner? Contact Acceletronics today – we can answer any questions you might have.

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Researchers Create 3D CT Models of Lung Segmentation in COVID-19 Patients

A Louisiana State University (LSU) radiologist joined with an evolutionary anatomist to create revolutionary 3D models of COVID-19 patients’ lungs by implementing the same techniques used for reptiles and birds. Emma R. Schachner, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Cell Biology & Anatomy, and Bradley Spieler, MD, Vice Chairman of Radiology Research and Associate Professor of Radiology, Internal Medicine, Urology, & Cell Biology and Anatomy at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, created the models from CT scans of COVID-19 patients.

Three patients underwent contrast-enhanced thoracic CT when their symptoms worsened. Two tested positive for COVID-19; another was presumed a false-negative based on the symptoms they experienced combined with compelling imaging. Since false-negative tests are a known diagnostic challenge, CT can be beneficial for establishing a COVID-19 diagnosis. The lungs’ form and structure appear to correlate to disease progression, which allows for the 3D segmentations to model airflow patterns or quantify lung tissue volumetrically.

Spieler said, “The full effect of COVID-19 on the respiratory system remains unknown, but the 3D digital segmented models provide clinicians a new tool to evaluate the extent and distribution of the disease in one encapsulated view. This is especially useful in the case where RT-PCR for SARS-CoV-2 [current testing system] is negative but there is a strong clinical suspicion for COVID-19.” 

This combined technology is a novel discovery as there has never before been accurate models of the COVID-19 disease progression in the lungs. Previous models published include volume-rendered models and straight 2D screenshots of CT scans and radiographs (X-Rays). The 3D models are vastly more detailed but do require some more effort.

Schachner explained, “Previously published 3D models of lungs with COVID-19 have been crated using automated volume rendering techniques. Our method is more challenging and time-consuming, but results in a highly accurate and detailed anatomical model where the layers can be pulled apart, volumes quantified, and it can be 3D printed.”

The in-depth view rendered by this model makes it easier for the broader medical audience to understand the severity and extent of this disease.

Check out the original report for a detailed look at the 3D models of COVID-19 patients’ lungs.

Looking to update your CT scanner to a newer model? 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:

Radiation Therapy Might be a Treatment Option for COVID-19

A recent article by the Journal of Nuclear Medicine is one of the first published studies to examine radiation therapy to treat COVID-19 patients. Researchers in New York radiolabeled the CR3022 human antibody with Iodine-131 as a targeted agent, since this antibody binds to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The researchers concluded, “Our results confirm the potential of CR3022 as a molecularly targeted probe for SARS-CoV-2. A labeled version of CR3022 could potentially be used for Auger radiotherapy or non-invasive imaging.”

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., authored a blog on the CR3022 human antibody, stating it might hold the key to developing effective therapy against COVID-19. Collins wrote that researchers had shown CR3022 cross-reacts with the new coronavirus, though the antibody does not bind tightly enough to neutralize and cease infecting cells. Vaccine designers could potentially leverage the capabilities of how precisely the antibodies attach to the virus.

Although it seems novel, radiotherapy has been considered for treating viruses in the past. A genetically-engineered measles virus that expressed the sodium iodide symporter in infected cells was sensitive to I-125 in vitro. This halted virus replication but could not translate to an in vivo model.

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RapidArc Rotational Radiation Therapy

RapidArc Rotational Radiation Therapy combines the most current technologies to decrease treatment times and radiation exposure for the patient. The technologies used in this process are Intensity Modulated Therapy (IMRT), Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), On-Board Imaging (OBI), and Cone Beam CT Scanning (CBCT). 

Rapid Arc technology from Varian Medical Systems, a renowned leader in radiation research and development, has brought all of these technologies in their practice together to advance precision and targeted treatments to the next level. 

The RapidArc process emits radiation, usually in less than 90 seconds per fraction. IMRT Arc Therapy from RapidArc uses a single rotation of the linac gantry to execute a very targeted IMRT plan following IGRT and OBI targeting. This is considered a “volumetric arc” that is often labeled as VMAT (Volumetric Arc Therapy). It allows for a more effective, targeted, and faster treatment of prostate cancer radiation. Ultimately, the RapidArc treatment process is an evolved and more efficient treatment in its delivery, speed, and sophistication. 

To learn more about RapidArc therapy and its processes, read the full article here

Interest Grows in Low-Dose Radiation for Covid-19

In 2013 Edward Calabrese, a toxicologist from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a colleague were pining over century-old data on any evidence of whether low-dose radiation therapy could be utilized to combat certain types of illness and disease. Surprisingly, they did find proof that small amounts of radiation were moderately effective in combating pneumonia.

The research showed that doctors reported reduced symptoms within hours of a single dose of X-ray exposure. At that time, only a few people noticed the findings from Calabrese, and they were dismissed, only just being mentioned in a few publications. However, that all changed when Covid-19 came around. People were rushing to find any treatment that would prove even relatively effective against the novel coronavirus, and its devastating pneumonia that is the hallmark of the disease.

“Back in February, I started getting just dozens and dozens and dozens of emails from radiation oncologists – people who treat cancer patients with targeted radiation. And they had come across our paper, and they thought that this might be a vehicle by which they could help suffering and dying COVID patients perhaps survive,” Calabrese said. “Clinical trials are now going on across the country.”

At least a dozen trials worldwide are being tested for low-dose radiation therapy (LDTR), as a treatment to pneumonia related to Covid-19. The theory is that radiation to the lungs will halt the runaway inflammation responsible for the devastating pneumonia that leads to the course of some Covid-19 patients.

Read more on the developments of this article here.

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How Covid-19 is Impacting Radiation Oncology in the U.S.

As we continue to move forward in 2020 with Covid-19 seemingly expanding wider, oncologic care is finding itself in an uncommon and challenging dilemma between the goal to protect patients who are susceptible to Covid-19 while also trying to provide the important treatment they need in appropriate time frames so not to jeopardize treatment outcomes.

Unfortunately, those patients who have cancer are particularly susceptible because of their age, health, and immunosuppression from ongoing cancer therapy. With about 50% of cancer patients receiving radiation therapy, radiation departments around the county have needed to adapt in a situation that is uncharted, requiring ultra-sterile environments, and sometimes uncomfortable processes that would not have been necessary before the Covid-19 era.

Radiotherapy institutions are contemplating major questions that can impact not only the quality of their patient’s treatments, but also their patient’s health and the medical staff who serve them. Comprehensive measures are being taken to mitigate risk from exposure and spread. Patients and medical personnel are oftentimes required to enter separate entrances before they take a sperate screening, with appointments broken out in separate intervals to minimize extensive overlap in the waiting room. For patients who are COVID-19 positive and need radiation treatment, all equipment must be sterilized, and extra precautions are taken than those who are Covid-19 negative. Treatment breaks are another issue for recently diagnosed Covid patients, as the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines require a 14-day minimum quarantine, increasing treatment package and time sacrificing confidence in local control.

A new mindset for department operations is also developing with the use of telemedicine, which has become paramount in mitigating exposure for patients and health care workers while also lowering the number of employees in facilities. While these precautions are necessary and positive for maintaining the spread of Covid, we need to make sure that patients do not feel socially isolated or neglected by their health care providers in such a great time of uncertainty as this. Patients are already trying to overcome the emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis and, world pandemic or not, we need to make sure these patients get all the care they deserve.

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Focused Ultrasound Provides Hope in Combating the Deadliest Brain Tumor

Jason Sheehan, M.D., Ph.D., a neurosurgeon from UVA Health, has paved the way in focused ultrasound to treat glioblastoma, which is the most aggrieved and deadliest brain tumor currently known. 

The University of Virginia School of Medicine, led by Dr. Sheehan, is pioneering a technique that hits cancer cells with a drug, sensitizing them to sound waves, then exposes them with focused ultrasound. The research is early, but tests on cell samples in lab dishes look promising. 

Researchers’ results suggest that the technique has “Substantial potential for treatment of malignant brain tumors and other challenging oncology indications…” Other areas in which the process could be performed are lung and breast cancer, melanoma, and other cancers that typically are handled with traditional radiation oncology treatment options. The team predicts that the procedure will be especially useful in treating cancers in sensitive areas of the body that pose a challenge to access.

“Sonodynamic therapy with focused ultrasound offers a new therapeutic approach to treating patients with malignant brain tumors,” said Dr. Sheehan. “This approach combines two approved options, (the drug) 5-ALA and focused ultrasound, to produce a powerful tumoricidal effect on several different types of glioblastomas.’

Read more about this innovative treatment here.

Improvements in Medical Imaging Reduces X-Ray Radiation Exposure

Utilizing X-ray image technology has been a staple in today’s medicine; however, it does create a significant risk to patients and medical personnel. Standard machines that offer X-ray treatments such as CT scanners, fluoroscopes, and mammography devices produce a considerable amount of hazardous radiation and are not very effective. 

Usually, the X-ray machines have silicone-based detectors to which most of the radiation passes through, creating the health risks so many face when participating in treatment. 

However, researchers at Los Alamos and Argonne National Laboratories have developed an X-ray detector that is comprised of calcium titanium oxide. These titanium oxide detectors are more sensitive than silicone-based and will allow the  X-ray imaging system to reduce the radiation they deliver and improve their image fidelity. 

Another positive of the new detector is its core. The new detector contains a thin film of perovskite that can be sprayed onto surfaces; this is unlike silicone devices that need metal deposition and high temperatures to be created.

“Potentially, we could use ink-jet types of systems to print large scale detectors,” added Tsai. “This would allow us to replace half-million-dollar silicon detector arrays with inexpensive, higher-resolution perovskite alternatives,” said Hsinhan (Dave) Tsai, a postdoctoral felloe at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in a press release. 

Watch a Los Alamos video about the new detector here.