Breast cancer and heart disease better diagnosed with GE Medical's new digital imaging technology

New York 29 February 2000GE Medical Systems has unveiled two breakthroughs in medical imaging, which will lead to better and faster X-ray examinations for patients and generate novel opportunities for improved medical care in the areas of breast cancer and heart disease. The United States introduction of the GE Senographe 2000D mammography and Innova 2000 cardiovascular systems marks the first time a company has simultaneously launched new products to address both breast cancer and heart disease, two leading causes of death in the United States.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved both the GE Senographe and GE Innova for commercial use in the United States. GE Chairman and CEO John F. Welch Jr. commented that these advances in digital X-ray technology represent the biggest breakthroughs in cardiac care and mammography in more than 20 years, and that GE delivered these new life-saving systems to doctors and their patients two years earlier than otherwise possible because of the company's Six Sigma quality initiative.

More than 32.5 million mammograms and 4.5 million cardiac catheterisation procedures are performed each year in the United States, whereas the X-rays account for 70 percent of all medical imaging procedures. Thus, GE Medical is committed to bringing digital X-ray technology to every community in the country within the next five years. "Our goal is to help physicians see more, giving them more substantial information for a better, earlier patient diagnosis", stated Jeffrey R. Immelt, President and CEO of GE Medical Systems.

"GE Senographe and GE Innova will forever change the way physicians detect both breast cancer and heart disease, and the introduction of these innovative technologies will accelerate the complete digital transformation of health care", Mr. Immelt added. GE has invested over $150 million in developing its proprietary digital X-ray technology and the company has also been granted more than 100 U.S. patents. Both the GE Senographe and GE Innova feature GE's Revolution digital detector, the industry's first full-field, flat panel amorphous silicon detector.

The Revolution detector delivers the medical industry's best combination of image quality and dose efficiency. Also, the Revolution detector and related technologies have created new methods for health care providers to process, view and manage medical images including the advancement of telemedicine, more efficient storage of patient images and a better means of handling and recording patient information.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among American women. Every woman is at risk of developing breast cancer and an estimated one out of every nine women will develop the disease sometime during her lifetime. The GE Senographe is designed to be a more powerful tool in the detection of breast cancer. "The GE Senographe changes breast care forever", stated Dr. Karina Bukhanov, Head of the Division of Breast Imaging and the Joint Department of Medical Imaging at Mount Sinai Hospital and University Health Network in Toronto.

"With the Senographe, we are experiencing fewer patient recalls and increased confidence in mammograms among our patients. In addition, we are performing examinations in nearly half the time required for traditional film-based mammography systems", added Dr. Bukhanov. Based on research studies and early clinical experience throughout the world, the GE Senographe holds the promise of optimised visibility of the breast, especially near the skin line, the chest wall, and in women with dense breast tissue.

The GE Senographe forms the most extensively tested mammography system ever introduced, and its clinical benefits have been evaluated at eight leading research hospitals in the United States. What makes the Senographe 2000D different from conventional systems are its digital capabilities and two other important features: the acquisition workstation which displays a high quality image within ten seconds after an exposure, providing the technologist with quick verification of correct patient positioning; and the review workstation which features a wide range of imaging enhancing and magnification tools.

"The cancer in one particular patient would not have been diagnosed if it were not for the windowing and electronic zoom capabilities of this novel digital technology", stated Dr. Luz Venta, a physician who used the GE Senographe during clinical trials at Lynn Sage Comprehensive Breast Center at Northwestern Memorial. GE medical expects to have installed nearly 200 GE Senographe systems worldwide by the end of this year.

The GE Innova 2000 all-digital cardiovascular imaging system is utilised by cardiologists in the cardiac catheterisation lab when performing procedures to view and treat coronary artery blockages that could cause heart attacks or other serious health risks. With the digital imaging capabilities of the Innova 2000, cardiologists are able to view hard-to-see blood vessels, as well as the devices used during procedures, like stents, guidewires and catheters. This new technology equally enables cardiologists to see blood vessels clearly in larger patients whose images can be more difficult to see with conventional X-ray systems.

The Innova is a major medical development, especially significant because of the prevalence of heart disease in the United States and around the world. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women and men in the United States and one in five American adults has some form of heart disease. The AHA estimates that the cost of treating cardiovascular disease in the States in 2000 will exceed $300 billion.

"The GE Innova enables faster procedures, requires significantly less radiation exposure, and gives doctors the ability to see details better. These advances are especially important for larger patients, which were typically more difficult to diagnose and treat before the GE Innova", stated Dr. Marie-Claude Morice, Founder of the Cardiovascular Institute of South Paris and an interventional cardiologist at the Cartier Institute in France, who also adds that the end result is that better images produce better patient care.

Dr. David R. Holmes, Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Medical School and Director of the Adult Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic claims that all features combined, this technology is a giant improvement in the ability to treat patients. GE Medical Systems is a $6 billion global leader in medical information and technology. Its offerings include networking and productivity tools, health care information systems, conventional and digital X-ray, patient monitoring devices, positron emission tomography, computed tomography, magnetic resonance, ultrasound, and nuclear medicine.

Leslie Versweyveld

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