by Lisa Chamoff
, Contributing Reporter | November 21, 2017
From the November 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
As hospitals and imaging facilities prepare for cuts to Medicare reimbursements for exams performed using analog X-ray systems this year, and to exams using computed radiography (CR) equipment in 2018, manufacturers have been responding with DR retrofit solutions.
Medicare payments for analog X-rays have been cut by 20 percent as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016. Starting next year, exams performed using CR equipment will be reduced by 7 percent for five years and will later be cut by 10 percent.
OEMs are also continuing to release all-in-one radiography and fluoroscopy systems to increase room utilization, with flexible positioning to increase patient comfort and image processing software designed to produce high-quality images with the lowest radiation dose possible.
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Here are some of the new systems, software and retrofit solutions that have been released within the last year.
Last year at RSNA, Agfa previewed its new multipurpose DR 800 X-ray room as a work in progress and expects to submit the 510(k) prior to this year's RSNA meeting.
The overhead tube system is the first product for Agfa that will be capable of doing general radiography, fluoroscopy and interventional studies. The company offers a predecessor to the system in Europe.
“It’s one of these systems that could be used all day long by radiologists and specialists outside radiology,” says George Curley, senior sales marketing manager for digital imaging at Agfa. “It really is a versatile room.”
The DR 800 will have a table that can go 90 degrees in either direction and an X-ray tube that can go out a full 180 centimeters.
“You can literally do chest X-rays on the table at full distance,” Curley says.
The system will also include Agfa’s MUSICA (Multi-Scale Image Contrast Amplification) image processing software and Dynamic MUSICA for fluoroscopy.
“MUSICA really is the best on the market for handling noise in low-dose images,” Curley says.
Carestream recently introduced a new DirectView software option called SmartGrid.
"This enhancement algorithm automatically processes an image to create a scatter-reduced appearance,” says Sarah Verna, Carestream's marketing manager for global X-ray solutions. “It offers an important advantage since scatter introduces low frequencies into an image, which appears as a haze that reduces contrast and detail. The traditional means of reducing scatter is to use an anti-scatter grid, but this presents challenges to the technologist with positioning/alignment and increases dose to the patient.