The Acuson Sequoia from Siemens Healthineers.
As the world’s most utilized medical imaging modality, ultrasound is likely to be featured heavily at the 2018 Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) annual meeting, Nov. 25-30 in Chicago. New innovations introduced in the last 12 months have drastically improved the technology’s visualization capabilities, expanded its already extensive applications and brought new affordable portable options to the market.
One of the most eye-catching recent advances has been Philips’ TrueVue technology on the new Epiq CVx ultrasound, which launched in the U.S. in August. First unveiled at the 2018 American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) annual meeting, TrueVue creates photorealistic renderings of transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) scans. The feature is designed to aid navigation during transcatheter procedures, providing a surgical view of cardiac structures. Most notably, TrueVue incorporates a virtual light source the user can move around the image — even behind the anatomy in question — to change the contrast and enhance visualization.
The Epiq CVx also includes an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) monitor with a more dynamic, wider viewing angle for side-by-side image comparison. OLEDs are smaller, thinner and more flexible than traditional LEDs, so they can be used as actual pixels in a monitor display, as opposed to traditional LEDs that are only used for backlighting.
“The Epiq CVx brings together advanced image quality, quantification and intelligence specifically for the cardiologist,” said Roberto Lang, M.D., professor of medicine, director, Noninvasive Cardiac Imaging Laboratory at the University of Chicago Medicine. “I was impressed with the TrueVue feature, which elevates 3-D ultrasound imaging to a totally new level and could impact diagnostic ability of echocardiography in different clinical scenarios, like better understanding of the anatomy of mitral valves.”
The Epiq CVx and the Epiq CVxi (designed specifically for use in interventional labs) also include the new S9-2 PureWave Transducer for pediatric exams. The transducer displays high levels of detail and contrast resolution through single-crystal technology.
Visualization for Superficial and Deep Applications
Several vendors have added new capabilities for viewing both superficial applications, including ophthalmic, arterial, venous, lung and nerve, as well as deeper applications like abdominal and obstetrics.
Fujifilm SonoSite added two new transducers for these purposes for the iViz point-of-care (POC) ultrasound system in August. The lightweight, miniaturized ultrasound system can fit in a pocket to be taken anywhere for quick image interpretation and diagnosis. The new transducers include the L25v and the C60v, both of which offer superior 2-D image quality, according to Fujifilm, and new exam presets. The L25v is available for superficial applications and the the C60v is designed for deep applications. The latter features DirectClear Technology, which improves penetration and contrast resolution.
Siemens Healthineers focused on variable body imaging with the release of its latest ultrasound system, the Acuson Sequoia. With sonographers having to work with so many obese patients today — the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 1.9 billion people globally are reported as overweight, with 650 million people classified as obese — the Acuson Sequoia is designed to accommodate for variances in tissue density, stiffness and absorption to allow deeper penetration of ultrasound signals.
The system is highlighted by the Deep Abdominal Transducer, which can provide high-resolution imaging up to 40 cm deep.
New Portable Ultrasound Systems
Several new portable ultrasound systems have launched in 2018 and will be on display at RSNA 2018.
Konica Minolta introduced the Sonimage MX1 portable ultrasound with a touchscreen interface and five-button console in June. The system is purposefully designed for a short learning curve for musculoskeletal (MSK) applications, anesthesia and pain management exams, as well as interventional guidance. Users can adjust multiple imaging parameters, including frequency, focus and compounding, automatically by adjusting the scan depth. New Dual Sonic Technology controls ultrasonic noise and enhances transmission efficiency to deliver clear delineation of structures as small as hundreds of microns in diameter.
The following month, South Korea-based Healcerion entered the U.S. market with the Sonon 300L wireless handheld ultrasound, geared toward primary care providers (PCP). The mobile app-based Sonon 300L can turn any device into a portable ultrasound system that supports DICOM and picture archiving and communication systems (PACS). This method of operation allows PCPs to have the rapid, accurate diagnostics of an ultrasound unit with an interface that can be learned in minutes at less than 1/10 the cost of a traditional ultrasound system.