FAST CARE from Siemens Healthcare is the new technology platform for CT (computed tomography) scanners which helps hospital staff to perform CT examinations faster and more efficiently than before as well as keeping the dose as low as possible.
The FAST CARE applications simplify workflows during scanning and in the preparation of image reconstructions. Patients benefit from lower radiation doses and shorter examination times as the system automates many operating procedures, suggests parameter settings for image quality and dose reduction and standardizes processes which makes results more readily reproducible. These enhancements help CT operators and service providers improve their productivity. FAST CARE will be available on the SOMATOM Definition AS scanners in March 2011, and on the SOMATOM Definition Flash scanners in May 2011.
SOMATOM Definition product family CT scanners that are already on the market can be upgraded to the new platform.
Two of the major current needs in computed tomography for which Siemens has developed "FAST CARE" are optimization of the processes relating to patient diagnostic examinations and reducing the doses necessary for such examinations. The new technology platform's applications therefore focus on two aspects: Fully Assisting Scanner Technologies (FAST) support process optimization and Combined Applications to Reduce Exposure (CARE) assist with dose reduction. "The key innovation of our new FAST CARE platform is that for the first time, dose-reducing and process-optimizing functions are operating in tandem. This reflects our aspiration to help our customers to increase their productivity in the clinical environment while ensuring optimal patient care," said Dr. Sami Atiya, CEO Computed Tomography at Siemens Healthcare.
The FAST technologies simplify and automate time-consuming and complex procedures in computed tomography. This improves not only the workflows, but also the results: as they make it easier to operate the equipment and to reproduce results. The FAST functions support doctors and radiology technologists at every step of a CT examination, from planning and image acquisition to reconstruction and diagnosis of the images. The key feature is that the anatomy of the individual patient is automatically taken into account.
The most important applications in this family include FAST Planning for standardized determination of the correct scan and reconstruction areas. FAST Cardio Wizard offers step-bystep instructions in the user interface to help operators gain practice in the complex preparations for cardiac examinations. FAST Scan Assistant and FAST Adjust determine the appropriate parameters for performing CT examinations with the best possible image quality.
FAST Spine can reduce the work of preparing for spine reconstructions, resulting in considerable time savings. With just a single click, the operator can select the desired region of the spine from a list of typical predefined scan regions. FAST Spine then determines the correct position of the planes to be reconstructed and identifies all vertebrae and intervertebral discs accordingly. This results in considerable time savings, particularly with emergency patients, and can enhance the therapeutic safety of interventions.
When used in combination with syngo.via, the software platform for diagnosing clinical images from Siemens, FAST CARE optimizes the entire examination process, as it brings together all the steps involved, from scan preparation and performance through image reconstruction to diagnosis, in a single integrated solution.
From the patient's point of view, however, it is not enough just to improve the processes - administering the lowest possible dose is just as important. In CT, a great deal of importance is rightly attached to the Alara principle (Alara = As Low As Reasonably Achievable). Along with its FAST applications, Siemens CT delivers a comprehensive range of new CARE applications for dose reduction. These include, for example, automatic display of the dose distribution for the planned examination using CARE Profile. CARE Dashboard shows the operator the activated dose reduction functions, so that they can then further optimize the examination protocols and scan parameters.
In principle it is possible to improve the image quality considerably and at the same time to optimize the dose by selecting the correct kV level for the CT for the particular patient and organ involved. If the tube voltage is altered, however, all the other scan parameters also have to be adjusted accordingly. But as the dependencies are not linear, the values must currently be calculated manually using complicated formulae. Studies have shown that for this reason, operators do not normally alter kV values and thus do not exploit the full potential for dose reduction. Siemens is offering a solution to this problem for the first time: CARE kV suggests the correct tube voltage depending on the patient's anatomy and the organ to be examined. All other parameters are automatically adjusted to suit the selected kV level. This optimizes the contrast-tonoise ratio in the image and allows reduction of the dose by up to 60 per cent.
While voltages commonly used today lie between 80 and 140 kV (kilovolts), with CARE Child CT examinations can be performed using just 70 kV, significantly reducing dose levels. This achievement has been made possible by Siemens' development of its Straton tube, enabling it to produce this low voltage. This is yet another technical innovation from Siemens for actively reducing radiation dose.
The Siemens Healthcare Sector is one of the world's largest suppliers to the healthcare industry and a trendsetter in medical imaging, laboratory diagnostics, medical information technology and hearing aids. Siemens offers its customers products and solutions for the entire range of patient care from a single source – from prevention and early detection to diagnosis, and on to treatment and aftercare. By optimizing clinical workflows for the most common diseases, Siemens also makes healthcare faster, better and more cost-effective. Siemens Healthcare employs some 48,000 employees worldwide and operates around the world. In fiscal year 2010 (to September 30), the Sector posted revenue of 12.4 billion euros and profit of around 750 million euros.
The product mentioned herein is not commercially available. Due to regulatory reasons its future availability cannot be guaranteed.
Marion Bludszuweit | Siemens Healthcare
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