GE Healthcare launches diagnostic advancements on premier women's health ultrasound system

San Diego 12 March 2008GE Healthcare has launched enhancements to its premier ultrasound system for obstetrics and gynaecology, the Voluson E8 Breakthrough 2008, at the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) Annual Meeting in San Diego. GE's new proprietary software programme, Sonography-based Automated Volume Count (SonoAVC), delivers an efficient method of calculating the number and volume of ovarian follicles. This is an initial step in assisted reproductive medicine. The Voluson E8 Breakthrough 2008 also features improved probe imaging capabilities, which enable clinicians to see more anatomical detail. GE, a global expert in ultrasound, also showcased its console and compact LOGIQ systems to improve patient care in radiology and emergency medicine.

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The dilemma of infertility affects approximately 80 million people globally; in the United States, approximately 6,1 million couples have difficulty conceiving, about 10-15 percent of the United States population, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC).

In assisted reproductive medicine, ultrasound is part of baseline evaluation with the patient. Ultrasound imaging can include an assessment of the anatomy such as the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and endometrium. Ultrasound can help in surgery planning, as well as helping to detect abnormalities and cysts. GE's new exclusive software, SonoAVC, automatically measures and calculates the number and volume of hypo-echoic structures, such as ovarian follicles, in a volume sweep. This is a critical diagnostic step in assisted reproductive medicine, because each fluid-filled follicle contains hormone producing cells and a maturing ovum (egg).

Bringing automation to the exam can significantly reduce a physician or clinician's time for follicular assessment and reporting, as much as 7,6 minutes per patient. SonoAVC's automation and standardization of the exam increases efficiency and consistency between physicians across clinics, and patient to patient. SonoAVC also generates instant results a patient can see in an easy-to-view report format.

"The ability to automate the follicular assessment using ultrasound enhances the efficiency of follicular volume measurement", stated Alfred Z. Abuhamad, M.D., Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Eastern Virginia Medical School. "Displaying ovarian follicles in a 3D mode allows for an easy visual depiction of the geometric shape of individual follicles and thus enhances the optimal evaluation of the stimulated ovary. A software system that automates and simplifies follicular assessment has great promise in clinical practice. SonoAVC represents a giant step towards that goal."

GE also introduced new abdominal and transvaginal transducers with an expanded 195-degree field of view, compared to the previous 120-degree field of view, to help clinicians image more of the reproductive anatomy in a single view. GE's proprietary ultrasound beam-steering technology helps give clinicians a larger field of view to see more in one image. This helps in evaluating anatomy, such as the uterus, both ovaries, or abnormalities. In addition, Voluson's new 4D high frequency transvaginal probe can detect anatomical detail earlier in the first trimester and in gynaecological exams.

New on the Voluson 730 Expert system is the proprietary software that can automate the acquisition of ultrasound images used by physicians to diagnose foetal heart defects. This software, called Sonography based Volume Computer Aided Diagnosis (SonoVCAD), was first launched on the Voluson E8 in 2006. GE licensed SonoVCAD, patented by Dr. Abuhamad, who developed the automation protocol. Dr. Abuhamad's protocol automates the acquisition of images to display the planes that are needed for a complete ultrasound evaluation with a four-chamber view of the foetal heart. Dr. Abuhamad has created algorithms that allow the other planes to be generated from that four-chamber view. Those views allow physicians to identify the type and severity of foetal heart defects.

The LOGIQ Care Area Series ultrasound systems, introduced at RSNA 2007, are customized to radiology speciality areas such as paediatric radiology, vascular laboratories and breast imaging. Built on the multi-speciality LOGIQ platform, the Care Area Series provides speciality-specific tools for advanced care areas: ventricular volume measurements of hydrocephalus in the newborn; real-time ultrasound imaging of the haemodynamics of a pseudo-aneurysm in the elderly; and women undergoing ultrasound imaging of breast lesions in the coronal plane are all examples of this Care Area focus.

GE designed the new care area systems with two objectives in mind: excellent imaging performance optimized for each clinical area, and optimal clinical work flow designed to improve health care quality and efficiency. LOGIQ continues to be based on GE's raw data approach to ultrasound imaging. Rather than storing ultrasound images as video pixels, the data is stored as digitized ultrasound waveforms. GE's experience has been that this architecture gives extremely high ultrasound fidelity. In the LOGIQ Care Area Series systems, this raw data can be captured in three dimensions in near real-time. This makes ultrasound imaging much like CT or MR imaging in that clinicians, regardless of care area, can view, reprocess, re-slice, and review images even after the patient has left the building.

This compact system is designed with dedicated software specifically for unique clinical needs, and automatic image optimization with one-button operation. The report package can automatically send clinical images to a network folder where a PDF can be picked up by the patient's electronic medical record (EMR), a key need in emergency medicine. This laptop-style system can be moved quickly from room to room for imaging traumatic injuries, internal bleeding, pregnancy related complaints, soft tissue infections, and certain cardiac conditions.

"Each field of medicine uses ultrasound in a unique way. GE offers a broad range of ultrasound systems that cater to the unique needs of different medical practitioners", stated Omar Ishrak, CEO and president of GE Healthcare's Clinical Systems business unit. "We are helping improve clinicians' diagnostic capabilities and their care for patients across women's health care, radiology and emergency medicine. In each field, GE delivers the premium image quality, work flow efficiencies and portability with compact systems that are suited for each unique user."

GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies and services that are shaping a new age of patient care. Its expertise in medical imaging and information technologies, medical diagnostics, patient monitoring systems, performance improvement, drug discovery, and biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies is helping clinicians around the world re-imagine new ways to predict, diagnose, inform, treat and monitor disease, so patients can live their lives to the fullest.

GE Healthcare's broad range of products and services enable health care providers to better diagnose and treat cancer, heart disease, neurological diseases and other conditions earlier. Its vision for the future is to enable a new "early health" model of care focused on earlier diagnosis, pre-symptomatic disease detection and disease prevention. Headquartered in the United Kingdom, GE Healthcare is a $17 billion unit of General Electric Company. Worldwide, GE Healthcare employs more than 46.000 people committed to serving health care professionals and their patients in more than 100 countries. More company news is available in the VMW February 2008 article GE Healthcare teams with Centrak to introduce battery-based RFID asset optimization solution.


Leslie Versweyveld

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