Konica Minolta's "X-Ray That Moves" captures patients in motion.
For well over a century, radiologists and their partners in other specialties have been looking at static images — X-rays — to assist in the diagnosis of disease and injury.
In recent decades, other imaging technologies like the MRI and CT have been added to their diagnostic toolboxes. Still, diagnosticians are often forced to use workarounds, particularly when a patient’s specific challenge involves motion: a deteriorated shoulder joint that impedes movement or lung disease that affects respiration.
Even as orthopedists and pulmonologists have worked with radiologists to accurately diagnose maladies that involve motion, there has always been a certain amount of guesswork due to the fact the physician must rely on static images when attempting to see a patient in motion.
As a consequence, while orthopedists can help patients relieve pain and regain mobility, their patients don’t always regain full range of motion.
“Let’s face it, 80% of orthopedic patients aren’t completely happy after surgery,” said Eric R. Wagner, MD, assistant professor of orthopedics and an upper extremity surgion at Emory University in Atlanta.
Pulmonologists face the same challenge.
“Much of lung disease treatment is really about how you breathe,” said Florence Doo, MD, a diagnostic radiology resident at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “How your lungs move is what we’re trying to see.”
Fluoroscopy is often the tool of choice when diagnosing conditions that involve motion, but it requires cumbersome equipment, the physician must be present when the images are being acquired, higher doses of radiation are often needed and the image resolution is relatively low.
One solution is Konica Minolta’s dynamic digital radiography (DDR) technology, which has received FDA clearance. DDR, or “X-Ray That Moves,” records a series of individual digital images at high speed with low doses of radiation. One 20-second chest exam delivers the equivalent radiation dose of 2 standard X-rays. DDR images are obtained using the same X-ray system that takes static X-rays, eliminating the need for an additional piece of equipment.
In much the same way that a traditional film camera records multiple still images at a rate quick enough to represent movement, dynamic radiography can deliver clinically relevant information showing anatomic structures such as organs and tissue in motion that can be stored and viewed later as part of the diagnostic process.
Dr. Wagner is investigating applications for the technology in orthopedics at Emory. Dr. Doo and Jose Concepcion, MD, have been working on a similar study at Mount Sinai, in this case dealing with pulmonology.
“How is it that clinicians, both radiologists and pulmonologists, can really benefit from this?” Dr. Doo asked.
So far, indications are that DDR can significantly advance patient care.
“If a picture is worth a thousand words,” Dr. Wagner noted, “a video is worth a thousand times more.”
While clinical studies so far have primarily focused on orthopedics and pulmonology, the technology shows promise for other specialties such as emergency medicine and cardiology.
“It will shorten the time and complexity of getting answers,” Dr. Concepcion said. “If you’re a patient and the physicians want to find out about, say, diaphragmatic motion, it’s one simple test, rather than going to three different places to get three different tests.”
Visit Konica Minolta Healthcare Americas, Inc. virtual booth at RSNA 2020.