Tuesday, February 18, 2014

ADN CANADA ADDS SPECTRUM DYNAMICS TO PRODUCT OFFERINGS

ADN Canada pleased to announce that we have added Spectrum Dynamics to our product offerings.  Spectrum Dynamics best-of-breed products improve throughput, enhance image quality and provide the foundation for new clinical applications.

Though Nuclear Cardiology has grown significantly in the past 25 years, supporting detector technology has not improved at the same pace. As such, Sodium iodide and vacuum tubes continue to be the dominant technology in the marketplace and the lack of investment in new technologies has placed severe constraints on clinical workflow and the development of new applications.


However, with exciting new molecular imaging radiopharmaceuticals on the horizon and tremendous gains being made routinely in computing horsepower and applications, the limiting factor necessary to unlock the true potential of molecular imaging will be data collection. With this in mind, Spectrum Dynamics is now redefining SPECT Imaging with their innovative D-SPECT™ Cardiac Imaging System; innovative technology that allows medical professionals to experience a true breakthrough in Nuclear Imaging.


Why choose between speed and image quality? Spectrum Dynamics dramatic gains in detector performance, combined with proprietary high resolution reconstruction algorithms, allow medical professionals to significantly enhance clinical results while drastically reducing acquisition time, thereby improving overall clinical workflow. With these improvements, the D-SPECT™ Cardiac Imaging System revolutionizes the entire molecular imaging process.


Dramatic improvements in both clinical workflow and image quality are now possible with the D-SPECT™ Cardiac Imaging System, powered by Spectrum Dynamics' unique BroadView™ Technology. This new technology represents a breakthrough in almost every component of nuclear cardiology imaging diagnostics and workflow, including up to
a 50% improvement in energy resolution, which will provide the capability to image multiple isotopes simultaneously. Spectrum Dynamics protects its revolutionary technology with over 70 patents and patent applications. Advanced Technology. Advanced Applications. Better Results.

For more information, please contact ADN Canada Toll Free at 1-877-434-5311 or via email at info@adncanada.ca

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ABOUT  
Since 1999, ADN Canada has sourced and introduced ‘best-of-breed’ innovation to the Canadian health care market from around the world. From the world’s first commercial solid-state Nuclear Gamma Camera, to KLAS® highest rated Cardiovascular Picture Archiving and Communication (PACS) System and much more.  Visit us online

Thursday, October 07, 2010

RADIOLOGY, CARDIOLOGY, AND MOLECULAR IMAGING IN THE CLOUD - THE EVOLUTION OF PACS



THINKING SYSTEMS solutions are installed at over twenty sites across Canada and are proudly distributed by Alliance Distribution Network (ADN) Canada. For more information please contact your local ADN Canada sales consultant Toll-Free in Canada at 877-434-5311 or visit www.adncanada.ca. Note: Any / all product names mentioned in this document may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies and are hereby acknowledged.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pre-owned 2009 GE VENTRI, Dual-Head Cardiac Camera Available

General Electric’s (GE) Ventri is a fixed 90ยบ dual-head system optimized for cardiac stress perfusion studies, PET/CT, and cyclotron business.  Ventri incorporates design elements intended to increase patient comfort, such as a table with a 440-lb weight limit that can be lowered to a point where any patient can sit in it easily.   


For more information, please visit ADN Canada’s Refurbished Equipment listing.  

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Managing Nuclear Medicine Images Gets a Little Easier

"Managing Images Gets a Little Easier" was published by Health Imaging & IT | June 1, 2007 | Inside Molecular Imaging and was written by Jamie Bellavance

The typical PACS doesn’t always cut it when it comes to nuclear medicine.  Mainstream medical imaging technologies have not been designed to handle nuclear medicine’s unique demands, proprietary protocols, or programs, which make them incompatible with radiology PACS.  Hospitals nationwide are finding they have to explore new options when it comes to needs such as display functionality to support nuclear medicine studies. Some nuclear medicine departments have invested in pioneering nuclear medicine solutions or interfaced to radiology department PACS, while others prefer an enterprise-wide, integrated solution.

Nuclear medicine requires specific display capabilities, such as grayscale or color, functional, quantitative and fusion data. Static displays just won’t do for dynamic nuclear medicine studies, planar gated studies, SPECT, PET or PET/CT. PET/CT image review involves viewing of transaxial, coronal and sagittal and maximum intensity projection (MIP) images. For that, physicians need a separate solution to translate data among different file formats.

Nuclear medicine departments across the country have integrated new image management models that facilitate nuclear medicine data flow to benefit department and enterprise workflow.

A solution for all needs
The University of Miami Hospital and Clinics (UMHC) in Miami, Fla., house a total of 120 beds, and conduct approximately 6,000 nuclear medicine procedures each year. UMHC has used Thinking Systems Corp.’s ThinkingPACS for image management in nuclear medicine since 2002. The system includes an MDStation for physicians to perform review of images, quantifications, and image fusion; a QC station for the technologists; and an archive system for archiving all the nuclear medicine images, including SPECT and PET/CT. The ThinkingPACS sends all the images to the radiology RIS-PACS, a GE Healthcare/IDX ImageCast for enterprise-wide access and archival.

UMHC has two ADAC Genesys dual-head SPECT cameras, one Philips Medical Systems Skylight dual-head SPECT camera, and a Philips Gemini PET/CT scanner. ThinkingPACS receives the image data from the SPECT cameras and the PET/CT scanner through proprietary and DICOM connectivity for the purpose of processing, quantification, display and review using the MDStation, and also for archiving.

UMHC chose ThinkingPACS because it is an open architecture, Windows-based system with a robust clinical software package with “the clinical programs, tools, utilities and all necessary functionality that we need in order to perform our work,” says Mike Georgiou, PhD, assistant professor of Radiology and nuclear medicine physicist at UMHC.

The MDStation is used by the nuclear medicine physicians for review of all general nuclear medicine studies (bone, renal, liver/spleen, parathyroid, gastric, lung), SPECT processing and review, quantification for nuclear cardiac studies, and PET/CT fusion for oncology, neurology and cardiology studies. It has all the necessary display/review functions and analysis programs for nuclear medicine studies. For example, the physician has the ability to easily and efficiently manipulate the image data, perform comparisons with current and prior studies, and capture interesting cases for slide presentations, Georgiou says.

The technologists use the QC station to check images that have been acquired, and to ensure that the patient demographic information is accurate. Subsequently, the images are shipped to the university GE/IDX PACS for enterprise-wide access. The QC station also makes CDs.

Currently, UMHC is in the process of purchasing the Thinking Systems “plug-in” solution for its hospital PACS to meet the nuclear medicine needs — including PET and PET/CT — of referring physicians. The plug-in for third-party enterprise PACS, which they hope to install in a few months, will bring the nuclear medicine image programs, functions and tools to the hospital PACS in seamless fashion. The Thinking Systems web server will provide remote access to nuclear medicine images, allowing physicians to read studies from home or any remote location. “Most PACS lack the necessary functionality for nuclear medicine imaging,” Georgiou says. “The Thinking Systems plug-in can provide this functionality and offer a complete PACS solution for nuclear medicine.”

Eliminating manual intervention
Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield, Wis., stored all nuclear medicine department quality control and patient data on optical disc until December 2004. They knew they needed to change that, says Mike Bull, manager of nuclear medicine, they just needed to figure out how. They also wanted to make sure that their solution would obscure raw data that shouldn’t be seen by physicians.

NumaStore from Numa Inc. was the perfect choice, Bull says. The specialized PACS storage and image management system is designed for nuclear medicine data and studies. It offers secure, long-term storage of patient studies acquired over separate visits and the cataloging of those studies. It also supplies efficient retrieval in a way that facilitates and encourages comparative analysis. These abilities encourage a change in the way nuclear medicine is used, from simply a diagnostic snapshot to a long-term care patient management tool.

NumaStore receives information, or queries the workstation to get all the data, and stores them on the NumaStore server. Then NumaList — a DICOM modality worklist manager — sends only the screen-saved images to the PACS, which is all the referring physicians need to see. NumaList enables importing of vital hospital information system (HIS) and radiology information system (RIS) information into nuclear medicine DICOM headers. Following this, the patient file can be forwarded on to an imaging workstation or PACS. 

For image and data storage, NumaStore eliminated the need for manual invention. Previously, if technologists needed to retrieve data, they had to manually locate the optical disc and load it in the drive. “Now, it’s as easy as querying it back from NumaStore to any of our workstations,” Bull says.  They also don’t misplace as many studies as they did with optical disc. Now that everything’s automated, all studies get pulled or pushed to NumaStore.

An enterprise-wide solution
While some facilities favor a nuclear medicine department solution for image management, an enterprise solution is the choice of others. The radiologists at Diagnostic Radiology Consultants (DRC) wanted an enterprise-wide integrated solution to help read and interpret approximately 200,000 cases per year from the 11 facilities that they service across Chattanooga, Tenn., and northern Georgia. For this job, Specialty Networks, LLC was created as the information technology arm of the radiology practice. Specialty Networks is run by DRC, a private practice group of 10 radiologists who review images in nuclear medicine, MR, CT, and ultrasound for facilities that range from a 300-bed community hospital, to a single CT scanner owned by a urology group.

Three years ago, Specialty Networks was dealing with three PACS and two RIS platforms, all from different vendors, and each with a separate workstation, logon and password. To improve efficiency, they researched a seamless, integrated solution from one vendor that would keep all their databases in sync, using one logon, one keyboard and one mouse.

In 2005, they chose Siemens Medical Solutions syngo Suite to integrate RIS, PACS, post processing and transcription. Syngo Workflow manages the exchange and distribution of patient data and images. Syngo Imaging covers the PACS applications for diagnostic preparation, quality assurance and interpretation. Syngo Voice provides voice recognition and transcription. Specialty Networks also chose Siemens’ partner NextGen Healthcare Information Systems to provide its electronic practice management (EPM) solution. In all, Specialty Networks implemented seven workstations at facilities throughout their network.

With syngo Suite, dedicated workstations for nuclear medicine imaging aren’t necessary, allowing smoother integration while reading other radiology images such as CT and MR. “We weren’t looking for a specific nuclear medicine solution. What we wanted was the solution that brought nuclear medicine into the normal workflow. The last thing you want as a radiologist is a separate workflow for separate types of exams,” says Jim Busch, MD, CEO of Specialty Networks. The nuclear medicine gamma cameras, including the Siemens’ Biograph 16, Symbia T6, Symbia S, and Orbitor gamma camera, as well as a Philips Forte gamma camera, simply plug into syngo Suite, and transfer images to the PACS, Busch says.

The syngo Suite worklist allows radiologists to search for patient images by patient name, medical record number, date, facility, or referring physician. Worklists are organized by priority, need and the radiologist’s physical location, Busch says. For example, while Busch may be located at Tennessee Imaging, half of the exams could be from another facility 50 miles away.

Specialty Networks brought 10 facilities onboard with syngo Suite in about nine months. And the results are impressive: Volume has increased about 15 percent, while workflow efficiency has jumped 27 percent. Report turn-around time also has been cut considerably — dropping to just an hour from 24 hours.

Keeping up with NM
Since radiology PACS often struggle to manage nuclear medicine image needs, vendors have come to the table with specific nuclear medicine solutions that can seamlessly relay data to the department or enterprise-wide hospital PACS. Nuclear medicine departments can now provide fast, accurate image interpretation across proprietary vendor image formats while boosting efficiency and workflow.

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About Thinking Systems Corporation
Thinking Systems is an innovative medical software developer and marketer that brings the power of digital technology to advanced clinical, as well as image management applications, creating highly functional and fully automated imaging environments. With a unique vision of comprehensive enterprise-wide digital image workflow, Thinking Systems’ product portfolio supports the most complete spectrum of imaging modalities available today. Providing truly customized implementations, Thinking Systems translates the power of its versatile product portfolio and expertise into highly effective solutions tailor-made for each installation. Founded in 1996, Thinking Systems’ cutting edge ThinkingPACS and ThinkingRIS have been helping prestigious hospitals and freestanding imaging centers, both large and small, enjoy a fully digital environment. To learn more about Thinking Systems, visit www.thinkingsystems.com.

THINKING SYSTEMS solutions are installed at over twenty sites across Canada and are proudly distributed by Alliance Distribution Network (ADN) Canada. For more information please contact your local ADN Canada sales consultant Toll-Free in Canada at 877-434-5311 or e-mail.  

Note: Any / all product names mentioned in this document may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies and are hereby acknowledged.

Fletcher Allen Health Care Chooses Thinking Systems’ ThinkingPACS PET-CT, Nuclear Cardiology, Nuclear Medicine, and Other Cardiology Solutions

Solutions To Be Integrated With Existing McKesson PACS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

St. Petersburg, FL and Burlington, VT (November 22, 2006) – Thinking Systems Corporation, recognized as one of the most innovative medical imaging software developers for its broad product portfolio designed to support the spectrum of modalities, today announced that Fletcher Allen Health Care, a Burlington, VT, teaching and community hospital which operates in partnership with the University of Vermont, has signed an agreement to purchase its latest flagship ThinkingPACS solutions.


Thinking Systems’ solutions, including ModalityBroker, will be integrated with Fletcher Allen Health Care’s existing McKesson Horizon Medical Imaging PACS solution to provide enterprise-wide support of specialty modalities such as PET-CT, nuclear cardiology, and nuclear medicine.  The new installation will also include Thinking Systems’ enhanced PACS features, including hanging protocols, key images, and presentation states, which are DICOM 3.0 2006 conformant.

“We are excited to showcase our flagship ThinkingPACS solutions at one of the most respected healthcare facilities on the East Coast,” said Xiaoyi Wang, President and co-chairman, Thinking Systems Corporation. “This is a significant installation in that it will include new enhancements to provide extended interoperability with Fletcher Allen Health Care’s existing McKesson PACS solution.”

 “We chose Thinking Systems’ ThinkingPACS to complement our McKesson enterprise PACS because after evaluating our options, we determined that Thinking Systems offers outstanding PACS solutions for PET-CT, nuclear cardiology, and nuclear medicine,” said Frank Harris, Vice President of Information Services, Fletcher Allen Health Care. “With the integration of ThinkingPACS into McKesson’s Horizon Medical Imaging solution from the same workstation, our physicians will be able to access images of all modalities with the appropriate clinical tools and compare them side by side. The resulting system based on the cooperation of Thinking Systems and McKesson will not only improve the efficiency of our physicians but also improve the quality of our services.”

About Thinking Systems Corporation
Thinking Systems is an innovative medical software developer and marketer that brings the power of digital technology to advanced clinical, as well as image management applications, creating highly functional and fully automated imaging environments. With a unique vision of comprehensive enterprise-wide digital image workflow, Thinking Systems’ product portfolio supports the most complete spectrum of imaging modalities available today. Providing truly customized implementations, Thinking Systems translates the power of its versatile product portfolio and expertise into highly effective solutions tailor-made for each installation. Founded in 1996, Thinking Systems’ cutting edge ThinkingPACS and ThinkingRIS have been helping prestigious hospitals and freestanding imaging centers, both large and small, enjoy a fully digital environment. To learn more about Thinking Systems, visit www.thinkingsystems.com.

About Fletcher Allen Health Care
Fletcher Allen Health Care, in alliance with the University of Vermont College of Medicine, is Vermont’s only academic health center and is one of 125 in the country. Fletcher Allen also serves as the community hospital for the greater Burlington area. Fletcher Allen has more than 6,000 employees and serves one million people in Vermont and northern New York through more than 40 patient care sites and 100 outreach clinics.

Thinking Systems US Contact:
Xiaoyi Wang, President
+ 1-727-217-0909

Thinking Systems Canada Contact:
+1-877-434-5311

THINKING SYSTEMS solutions are installed at over twenty sites across Canada and are proudly distributed by Alliance Distribution Network (ADN) Canada. For more information please contact your local ADN Canada sales consultant Toll-Free in Canada at 877-434-5311 or e-mail.  Note: Any / all product names mentioned in this document may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies and are hereby acknowledged.


Thursday, July 08, 2010

DIGIRAD’S NEXT-GENERATION EARTH AND SPACE SCIENCE MISSIONS


An X-Ray Spectrometer using state-of-the-art detector technology will be launched this year on the Clark spacecraft, one of two missions to be flown as part of the Small Spacecraft Technology Initiative. Under SSTI, NASA funded the development of “Clark,” a high technology demonstration satellite to provide 3-m resolution panchromatic and 15-m resolution multispectral images, as well as collect atmospheric constituent and cosmic x-ray data. The 690-Ib. satellite, to be launched in early 1997, will be in a 476 km, circular, sun-synchronous polar orbit.

The primary objective of this mission is to demonstrate new technologies for small spacecraft. In keeping with this philosophy, we use two new types of semiconductor X-ray detectors, both operating near room temperature: avalanche photodiodes and cadmiumzinc-telluride detectors. The main purpose of flying these detectors is to test them in a space environment so that they can be used with confidence on future space missions. Measurements of solar flare and gamma-ray burst X-ray emissions will also be made as well as atmospheric constituent and cosmic x-ray data.  Digirad will measure these emissions.

To assist, Digirad developed a new class of solid-state detector arrays with microelectronics readout circuitry for two-dimensional imaging of x-ray and gamma ray fields in support of next-generation Earth and space science mission requirements.   The approach uses cadmium zinc telluride (CZT), a new room temperature detector material first developed by Digirad. Recent results show that CZT detector arrays can exhibit high detection efficiencies and superior energy resolution from below 1 kev to above 600 kev. CZT detectors are robust and lightweight; and can be patterned in a variety of array structures, with pixel dimensions to well below 100 m.

The innovation of producing CZT imagers suitable for space meets the needs of NASA small missions initiatives. 

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For more information in Canada on Digirad's solid-state technology for advanced Nuclear Imaging, please contact your local ADN Canada sales consultant Toll-Free in Canada at 1-877-434-5311 or via e-mail.  Note: Any / all product names mentioned in this document may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies and are hereby acknowledged.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

THINKING SYSTEMS WHITEPAPERS

Thinking Systems for Cardiovascular
 PACS (CV-PACS) were the winner of Frost + Sullivan’s Technology Leadership Award for demonstrating “excellence in technology within ones industry”.  The prestigious award further recognizes “excellence in all stages of the technology life cycle – incubation, adaptation, take-up, and maturity – to ensure a continuous flow of improvements, innovation, leading-edge concepts, and pioneering client applications”.  

THINKING SYSTEMS were also the highest rated CVPACS vendor by independent KLAS and are (proudly) some of the industry’s most comprehensive and feature-rich suite of general and specialized PACS and RIS (Radiology Information System) solutions available today.  We encourage you to find out how Thinking Systems technology can help to change the way you manage your practice.  

Thinking Systems WhitepaperS

+ VIEW BROCHURE
+ VIEW REFERENCES


THINKING SYSTEMS solutions are installed at over twenty sites across Canada and are proudly distributed by Alliance Distribution Network (ADN) Canada. For more information please contact your local ADN Canada sales consultant Toll-Free in Canada at 877-434-5311 or e-mail.  Note: Any / all product names mentioned in this document may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies and are hereby acknowledged.

Monday, June 14, 2010

THE FUTURE OF OSTEOPOROSIS DIAGNOSIS - OSTEOCORE 3™
























View Ostercore Brochure 
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ABOUT Alliance Distribution Network (ADN) Canada
With over ten years in business in Canada and over twenty PACS sites installed, Alliance Distribution Network (ADN) distributes KLAS Award winning Thinking Systems PACS and RIS solutions across Canada, as well as both Digirad, Medi-Link, Esaote, and UltraSPECT respectively.   For additional information please contact ADN directly Toll-free at 1-877-434-5311 or via email  Alternatively, please feel free to join the discussion on our new Facebook Page.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Xpress/Xact.Bone™ - Cut Scan Times in Half - or - Double the Resolution.



Through an exclusive Canadian agreement, ADN Canada is offering Xpress/Xact.Bone™ which utilizes UltraSPECT®’s Wide Beam Reconstruction (WBR™) technology to either cut bone imaging acquisition times in half, or double the image resolution.  Xpress/Xact.Bone™ completes a whole-body acquisition in less than eight minutes – and can display your standard high-resolution images at a quality never before seen in nuclear imaging.  We encourage you to find out how UltraSPECT® WBR™ technology can help to change the way you manage your cardiology practice.

Features: 
  • Dramatically reduced scan times
  • Superior image quality
  • Increased patient throughput and department productivity
  • Improved patient comfort and reduced patient motion
  • Seamless integration and automated operation

Documents:
For more information on Xpress.Cardiac™ in Canada, please contact ADN Canada.  Your local ADN Canada sales consultant can provide you with product information brochures. You can also obtain additional information on the UltraSPECT website (www.ultraSPECT.com).  We encourage you to find out how UltraSPECT® WBR™ technology can help to change the way you manage your cardiology practice.


- - -
ABOUT Alliance Distribution Network (ADN) Canada
With over ten years in business in Canada and over twenty PACS sites installed, Alliance Distribution Network (ADN) distributes KLAS Award winning Thinking Systems PACS and RIS solutions across Canada, as well as both Digirad, Medi-Link, Esaote, and UltraSPECT.  For additional information please contact ADN directly.   Alternatively, please feel free to join the discussion on our new Facebook Page.



Saturday, June 05, 2010

Xpress.Cardiac™ - Cutting Scan Times in Half.



Xpress.Cardiac™ utilizes UltraSPECT®’s Wide Beam Reconstruction (WBR™) technology to cut cardiac imaging acquisition times in half without compromising image quality. Xpress.Cardiac™ will complete a gated stress myocardial perfusion study in as little as six minutes and a rest SPECT acquisition study in less than eight minutes.  Xpress.Cardiac readily connects to most cameras and workstations. Robust, reliable and fully automatic, with a single processing protocol for all patients, it is virtually transparent to clinical work-flow. 

Features:
                Dramatically reduced scan times
                Superior image quality
                Increased patient throughput and department productivity
                Improved patient comfort and reduced patient motion
                Seamless integration and automated operation

Documents:
                Xpress.Cardiac™ Brochure

For more information on Xpress.Cardiac™ in Canada, please contact ADN Canada.  
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ABOUT Alliance Distribution Network (ADN) Canada
With over ten years in business in Canada and over twenty PACS sites installed, Alliance Distribution Network (ADN) distributes KLAS Award winning Thinking Systems PACS and RIS solutions across Canada, as well as both Digirad, Medi-Link, Esaote, and UltraSPECT.  For additional information please contact ADN directly.   Alternatively, please feel free to join the discussion on our new Facebook Page.

Friday, May 21, 2010

ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL WHEN IT COMES TO ENTERPRISE PACS


By Beth W. Orenstein, Radiology Today, Vol. 10 No. 19 P. 22

Bringing the functionality of nuclear medicine workstations onto the enterprise PACS is a true challenge, with most facilities employing one of three approaches.   Nuclear medicine was the first imaging modality to network and go digital. Nuclear medicine images are complex. Studies consist of four dimensions, use color to represent diagnostic information, and require dynamic image display. Sophisticated modality workstations have long allowed nuclear medicine physicians to reconstruct, review, and/or reprocess these studies as the reader desires. However, most facilities find their nuclear medicine workstations aren’t compatible with their PACS.


“What makes nuclear medicine/molecular imaging work so effectively is also what breaks PACS,” says Xiaoyi Wang, PhD, president, co-CEO, and cofounder of Thinking Systems Corporation, a PACS company that grew out of radiologists’ need to work with nuclear medicine, PET, ultrasound, and catheterization lab images.

Nuclear medicine imaging is functional rather than anatomical imaging, which is what makes the modality intrinsically difficult, Wang explains. “For functional imaging, obtaining images is only the first step. The more important steps are how to process and view the images in meaningful ways, as well as how to analyze the images to make an accurate diagnosis. Unlike most other modalities, for which you just need to acquire images and present them, as is done on PACS, molecular imaging requires a comprehensive suite of tools that are not necessarily available on a PACS workstation.”

Another obstacle to combining nuclear medicine and PACS, Wang says, is that molecular images are formed by collecting radiations from patients that are generated by injecting them with radioactive isotopes. “Compared to other modalities, information available to form images is very limited. To improve image quality, manufacturers have devised their own special technologies. These special technologies often result in proprietary information that no other vendor can support,” he notes.

Legacy Modalities
Yet another problem is that many institutions still use “legacy” nuclear medicine equipment from the 1980s and 1990s that do not support DICOM standards for distributing and viewing any kind of medical image. “For such old equipment, it is simply impossible to send images to PACS,” Wang says. “Even many of the devices that claim to be DICOM compatible only support sending screen captures at best.” Connecting these legacy devices to PACS is a major problem for many institutions, he says.

Finally, being able to store raw molecular imaging data on PACS and bring the data back to the modality is a challenge. “Most PACS either will not accept raw data or, when you retrieve the raw data back, it is no longer usable,” Wang says. That is why “the majority of healthcare institutions still do not use PACS for archiving molecular imaging data long term. In fact, the majority of nuclear medicine departments still maintain their own archive on CD/DVD, MOD [magneto-optical disks], or mini-PACS,” he explains.

In recent years, some solutions to the nuclear medicine/PACS dilemmas have emerged as more hospitals adopt facilitywide PACS and, in many cases, move on to their second- and third-generation systems. To solve the nuclear medicine image management problem, most facilities pursue one of three approaches.

One strategy is to use a nuclear medicine-based PACS and viewer that will function as a plug-in feature to the facility’s existing PACS. Thinking Systems’ plug-in to Philips’ iSite PACS is one example of this solution type. Another approach is to deploy and maintain separate systems for PACS and nuclear medicine studies. Many facilities use separate nuclear medicine mini-PACS solutions such as Numa’s NumaLink or NumaStore.

The third approach is to use an enterprise PACS designed to be friendly with nuclear medicine images. Thinking Systems’ ThinkingPACS is an example; it allows readers to use the same workstations to view and fuse all studies, regardless of their origin or vendor. Each solution has pluses and minuses, including cost, compatibility, and efficiency of both the technologists’ and physicians’ time. Here’s a look at them and their pros and cons.

Plug-In Solutions
Today, the majority of healthcare institutions have implemented enterprisewide PACS for general radiology. That’s why Thinking Systems developed plug-in and add-on solutions for some widely used enterprise PACS platforms, including Philips’ iSite PACS and Fujifilm’s Synapse PACS. “Thinking Systems’ plug-in and add-on provide the comprehensive solutions that our stand-alone PACS offers but within the third party’s PACS environment,” explains Wang. “This integration not only brings all modalities into a single PACS platform to improve productivity and quality of patient care, but it also generates significant savings in time through accurate and efficient workflow for the institutions.”

The nearly 30 radiologists of Radiologic Associates of Fredericksburg who work at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Va., and seven medical facilities within a 15-mile radius chose Thinking Systems’ plug-in solution for their Philips iSite PACS. Neil B. Green, MD, vice chairman of radiology and physician director of nuclear medicine, says they already had a PACS system with which they were satisfied. “It came close to everything we needed, so we weren’t ready to abandon it,” he says, “but like so many other PACS vendors, nuclear medicine review was sorely lacking.”

The group’s radiologists wanted to have full desktop integration of all their applications on one unit. “It wasn’t making sense to have to purchase expensive dedicated workstations for every location the subspecialist might be reading from,” Green says. “We needed to find a way to build the tools into our standard PACS workstations across the enterprise to allow any subspecialty radiologist to read from any location and permit consultation with referring physicians from the same computer.”

Having the plug-in has improved workflow tremendously, according to Green. “We have about 22 iSite PACS workstations, and you can now sit at any one of them and read any type of exam, including nuclear medicine studies [eg, general, cardiac, SPECT/CT, and PET/CT]. All of the nuclear medicine images are stored and managed on our regular PACS archives. This means that all nuclear medicine studies, just like general exams on PACS, are part of our daily exam worklists and can be interpreted on any standard PACS workstation via the Thinking Systems plug-in. Comparison exams are always immediately accessible with no reprocessing required by the nuclear medicine technologist.” It also means that the results are available sooner for anxious patients and their families, he adds.

Is there a downside to this solution? From a radiologist’s perspective, “I don’t see one,” Green says. However, he adds, “I have had some technologists complain that they’re not as involved in preparing and processing the nuclear medicine images, since much of this role is being performed automatically by the plug-in.”

Separate Systems
There are some nuclear medicine mini-PACS that address connectivity and data storage issues, such as NumaStore software. Think of it as a plug-in to the PACS archive/server that fully supports nuclear medicine and PET/CT, where others offer a plug-in to the PACS display, says Larry Smith, president/owner of Numa.

“Numa’s solutions can archive all the data types generated by nuclear medicine and PET/CT and maintain the data with the proprietary information so that the studies can be recalled, reprocessed, or reviewed on a nuclear medicine or molecular imaging workstation,” he says.

It can make sense for many facilities to have separate archives for nuclear medicine studies in order to maintain all the capabilities and advanced features available in a molecular imaging workstation, he says. Another reason to have a separate nuclear medicine archive is to keep teaching and research studies separate from the clinical PACS.

The NumaStore software application also can be installed on a facility’s existing PACS server and share the archive storage space, Smith says.

NumaStore can be configured to automatically pull images from the molecular imaging workstation and forward images that are compatible to the PACS. PACS users and molecular imaging workstation users can query NumaStore for studies, Smith explains. NumaStore supports both DICOM and non-DICOM studies from various vendors and makes them compatible with all the workstations.

Nuclear Medicine-‘Friendly’ PACS
“What makes Thinking Systems’ ThinkingPACS different from other PACS is that our product provides comprehensive PACS/RIS solutions for nuclear medicine/molecular imaging in addition to general radiology and cardiology,” Wang says.

ThinkingPACS has several functions designed for molecular imaging, including the ability to communicate with any vendor’s modality devices, either through DICOM or proprietary communication protocols, and to receive, retrieve, and send all image types in true DICOM or proprietary formats without losing any vendor-specific information. “With ThinkingPACS, you can communicate bidirectionally with other imaging devices in the enterprise and ensure that the data integrity and vendor-specific information are preserved,” Wang says. With this nuclear medicine-friendly PACS, physicians are able to do PET/CT fusion, SPECT/CT fusion, nuclear cardiology processing and quantifications, and general nuclear medicine view, processing, and quantifications, he adds. Clinical solutions are available enterprisewide through either thick-client workstations or Web-based thin-client approaches.

The disadvantage to this solution is obviously cost. “If an existing PACS is to be replaced by a PACS with comprehensive solutions for nuclear medicine/molecular imaging, such as ThinkingPACS, then there is an obvious cost associated with it,” Wang says. The facility would have to decide whether the cost is justified, which could depend on how many nuclear medicine studies it does per day. Facilities that specialize in cancer may have a higher volume of PET and other nuclear medicine studies.

While Thinking Systems was founded specifically to address PACS issues with nuclear medicine images, other companies have taken steps to make their PACS offerings more compatible with the demands of nuclear medicine.

Christine Cooper, MS, CNMT, RT(n), director of radiology and cardiology/neurology at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn., chose a module by CoActiv Medical Business Solutions to integrate its nuclear medicine studies with its CoActiv PACS. The hospital, which has 26 radiologists, does about 80,000 imaging studies per year, of which nuclear medicine is a relatively small portion, or about 3,600 exams.

Cooper explains her choice: “My goal was to have all my imaging data in one place, and we’ve accomplished that goal. If I had a separate PACS just for nuclear medicine, it would be another server to manage, and I want all my data on one server.” However, she says, “Traditionally, once the nuclear medicine data is archived on the PACS, it can no longer be manipulated, and only the data that is not proprietary goes over to the PACS. Physicians can look at the images but not the actual full analysis.”

Still, Cooper finds that the system works well for their needs. “From a labor perspective, it creates a more efficient workflow when you have a central repository. You can hit a button and everything goes to a PACS. CoActiv also offers more advanced options for viewing nuclear medicine studies that allows for an interactive platform, which can solve both issues,” she says.

Rasu Shrestha, MD, medical director for imaging informatics at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which has had a Philips iSite nuclear medicine and PACS solution for roughly five years, says it was the best choice for his center that includes 20 hospitals and 30 imaging centers performing more than 2 million imaging studies each year. It has not added the Thinking Systems plug-in to its iSite system.

The system alone has some limitations for nuclear medicine, according to Shrestha. “We can’t do everything,” he says. “There are some advanced features available via plug-ins for the nuclear medicine studies that we don’t have, but it’s advantageous to have the one system for reading the nuclear medicine and other imaging studies. It’s more patient centric and drives the workflow.”

Since mid-July, Carmichael Imaging in Montgomery, Ala., which does about 16 to 20 PET scans, 10 to 12 MRIs, and about 30 CTs per day, has utilized Siemens’ syngo TrueD, a whole-body imaging solution, on its PACS system so it can read any study from anywhere, says Patrick Rucker, MD, one of its three radiologists. The system registers data sets obtained using PET/CT, SPECT/CT, CT, and MR, allowing exams of patients scanned at different times—before and after therapy, for instance—to be compared.

Rucker says that previously the center, specializing in oncology, had separate workstations for its PET scanners. “It was good, but it wasn’t as efficient as it is now,” Rucker says. “Before, if you needed to look at a study that involved a PET scan and a CT, you would have to go back and forth between the two different workstations. I would have to either stop what I was doing and call the technician and say, ‘Please send the study to me,’ or I would have to find the old study myself and send it to my Siemens workstation and wait for the study to come over. With the new system, it’s just drop and drag and in 15 seconds, it’s loaded. It really has cut down on wasted time.”

Being able to look at all the images on the same workstation improves not only efficiency but also accuracy, Rucker says. “The less you look at an image, the more time it takes you. You lose your train of thought and could miss important details. With this system and its ability to fuse the images from the different modalities, my eyes never leave what I’m looking at and that makes it more accurate.”

The one disadvantage to adopting the new system, Rucker says, “is that you have to replace your PACS and go through the update process, but I had no interaction with that,” he says.

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Beth W. Orenstein is a freelance medical writer based in Northampton, Pa.  She is a regular contributor to Radiology Today.