There were many unique technologies showcased at the recent American College of Cardiology (ACC) 2010 Scientific Sessions, which may impact the practice of cardiology in the near future.
Voice Recognition, Structured Reporting
McKesson highlighted a works-in-progress voice recognition, structured reporting system. It uses Dragon Naturally Speaking dictation software to automatically enter information into Horizon Cardiology reports. The system uses a menu with voice prompts that allow physician commentary. The company is gathering feedback from physicians to tweak the system before a final version is released.
Pocket Echo: Tomorrow’s Stethoscope?
GE Healthcare showed its new Vscan pocket ultrasound system. It is about the size of two or three iPods stacked on top of each other (about 3 x 5.3 inches in size) and weighs less than a pound.
The scanner is being marketed for point-of-care use and is frequently compared to a stethoscope in its utility. Instead of listening for heart murmurs to detect heart valve regurgitation, the Vscan can immediately show if there is regurgitation using a color blood flow feature. The device can quickly visualize gall or kidney stones, tumors and other anatomical anomalies that would otherwise require a separate imaging scan.
It uses an iPod-like circular thumb controller so clinicians can hold the device in one hand, while manipulating the attached transducer in the other.
GE decided to create a simple, easy-to-use, hand-held device instead of attempting to miniaturize a full-featured ultrasound system.
Vscan deliberately uses JPEG and MPEG formats so physicians can easily share images. This also allows easy integration with any electronic medical record. Images are stored on a 6 GB card. The system is selling at a worldwide fixed price of $7,900.
Scheduling System With Photos
A works-in-progress whiteboard scheduling system shown by Fujifilm is designed with photos to help clinicians find what they are looking for at a glance. It uses point-and-click photos and boxes to drag and drop to quickly build a schedule. A mug photo of the clinician involved can be added so staff who are unfamiliar with each other can quickly recognize the person they are looking for. The photos also serve as a quick flag for items of interest to a particular clinician, instead of reading through the entire list. The system also supports icon photos of equipment, such as an echo machine for an echo exam, or a cath lab for an interventional procedure.
A commercial version of the system is expected to debut at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) meeting in November.
5-D Functional Cine Analysis
A works-in-progress 5-D advanced visualization feature from Ziosoft takes computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data sets of a full cardiac cycle, creates a 3-D rendering of the anatomy of interest, and then puts the data set in motion. Examples displayed included high-definition video loops of an aortic valve and a cut-away of an entire heart.
Some cardiac surgeons told the company it was the first time they had seen such detailed function outside of live, open surgery. The cut-away of the heart clearly showed the movement of the papillary muscle and the chordae tendineae. The surgeons said the new tool could result in much clearer diagnoses and better procedural planning and post-procedural review.
The 5-D analysis is made possible using super-computing algorithms previously used in weather forecasting. The initial, unfiltered video loops appears like live, color, 3-D echo, with a lot of noise, but a filter algorithm removes most of this. A commercial version should be available in the next year.
Hybrid Suites Among Top Trends
Driven by several new cross-over surgical to interventional technologies, hybrid operating rooms (ORs) were a hot topic at ACC. Philips Healthcare was the lead sponsor of a hybrid OR exhibit, which displayed how a high-quality angiography imaging system can be integrated into a sterile OR environment. Physicians gave a steady stream of first-hand accounts of how hybrid suites at their facilities changed the way they practice medicine. Numerous vendors elsewhere on the floor presented a variety of products and/or surgical equipment manufacturer partnerships for the hybrid suite. The most notable of these included Toshiba, GE and Siemens. Hybrid suites and their impact on the future of medicine were also frequently mentioned in ACC clinical sessions.