Within medical imaging, computed tomography (CT) plays a pivotal role in diagnosing and monitoring various medical conditions. As CT technology advances, innovation has led to groundbreaking developments such as dual-energy, or spectral imaging cutting-edge detectors, powerful image reconstruction, optimized imaging protocols and the incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI). CT continues to be a critical diagnostic tool that enables the generation of high-resolution, detailed images in shorter scan times. These innovations in CT have further empowered radiologists to detect subtle abnormalities and to detect cancers earlier, which can lead to more effective treatment plans.
Collaborative efforts between industry
"GE HealthCare is committed to consistently improving imaging technologies and expanding the capabilities of even the most exceptional technology with next-generation innovations to support clinicians’ diagnostic confidence and help ensure patients receive high quality care now and into the future,” said Sonia Sahney, Chief Marketing Officer for Molecular Imaging and Computed Tomography with GE HealthCare. “We are confident in the potential possibilities of our photon counting CT technology utilizing deep silicon detectors* to achieve exactly that. By collaborating with our technology and clinical partners, we believe this innovation will significantly advance CT imaging and the possibilities surrounding patient care."
Next-generation CT imaging with photon counting CT
Clinicians are maximizing current CT technology for patient care, but with the future in mind, extensive efforts have been dedicated to developing the next-generation CT. GE HealthCare’s developing photon counting CT technology uses deep silicon, energy-resolving X-ray detectors to count the number of incoming photons and quantify photon energy, a process that measures and provides specific information about the energy level of each photon as it is detected. These signals are used to generate CT images. As the input information becomes more detailed and accurate, the potential rises for generating improvements in spatial resolution, image contrast, and a noise level reduction in CT images.
When X-ray photons are transformed directly into electric pulses that can be counted and measured individually, it can reduce the amount of electronic noise in the count signal and produces high-quality spectral information. This is important when clinicians need to visualize objects of different densities within the human body, such as in soft tissue imaging and contrast-enhanced CT studies. Systems utilizing photon counting CT technology hold the potential promise for delivering better image quality at a lower radiation dose and/or with less injected iodine contrast media, supporting the Image Wisely goals promoted by professional societies in the radiology field.
The impact of collaboration on developing new CT technology
The collaborative efforts directed by GE HealthCare to develop its photon counting CT technology stretch far and wide, from MedTechLabs and Karolinska Institute and Prismatic Sensors, a GE HealthCare company in Stockholm, Sweden, to GE HealthCare’s US headquarters in Waukesha, Wisconsin. MedTechLabs’ research staff come from KTH Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), which has grown to become one of Europe’s leading technical and engineering universities, as well as a key center of intellectual talent and innovation. KTH, Karolinska Institute, and Region Stockholm support MedTechLabs with the intention of contributing to the development of innovative medical technology from a national and international perspective. The collaborative efforts of this team in the development of GE HealthCare’s deep silicon detectors and photon counting CT technology have propelled their commitment to advancing CT technology to new heights. Their dedication to progress and patient-centered innovation has paved the way for a future where photon counting CT plays a transformative role in healthcare.
“The overall goal is to ensure this technology benefits patients,” said Moa Yveborg Tamm, Photon Counting CT Engineering Manager at GE HealthCare. “We’re a truly global team with more input and more people working toward the same goal.”
Tamm has a close relationship with the teams at GE HealthCare in the US, as well as MedTechLabs and Karolinska Institute, where she works with clinicians to gain an understanding of how they envision using photon counting CT technology.
Johan Schuber, Executive Director at MedTechLabs, is tasked with facilitating the utilization of photon counting CT. “To solve the most complex challenges,” he said of the team’s collaborative efforts, “you really need the marriage of technology and medical sciences. We have that here, in a hub, where researchers and medical doctors come together to collaborate on cutting-edge competencies.”
The power of dedication and commitment to imaging innovation
As the engineering program manager, Mark Frontera leads the development of photon counting CT technology at GE HealthCare. His collaboration and passion is driven by his personal experience with cancer. Frontera’s son was diagnosed with cancer at an early age, igniting a fire within Frontera to make a difference in the field of innovating medical imaging technologies. Witnessing firsthand the challenges and impact of cancer on his child’s life, he is determined to drive advances in CT technology to improve the lives of other patients. His motivation is aligned with GE HealthCare’s unwavering commitment to revolutionizing CT technology and improving patient outcomes.
“For the kids in that waiting room,” explained Frontera, “I want the best scanner available. So, to me, it becomes extremely personal. It’s no longer just a job, this is a responsibility I have.”
Building the future of CT together
The evolving innovations in CT imaging capabilities with photon counting CT technology are a testament to the fruitful collaboration between industry engineers, research, and the perspective and clinical expertise of healthcare practitioners. Their joint efforts have the potential to revolutionize diagnostic accuracy, reduce radiation exposure, enable a path for personalized medicine, and expand today’s imaging capabilities. As the field continues to progress, ongoing collaborations like this one will be vital in driving further advancements and bringing the benefits of CT imaging to even more patients worldwide.
- Watch the ‘Deep Silicon Project Documentary’ by GE HealthCare
- Learn more about how GE HealthCare is advancing CT imaging with photon counting CT
- Read more: Exploring the full potential of photon-counting CT technology
- Read more: Thriving after childhood cancer
*Technology in development that represents ongoing research and development efforts. These technologies are not products and may never become products. Not for sale. Not cleared or approved by the U.S. FDA or any other global regulator for commercial availability. This is neither an offer nor an agreement to supply the technologies. Cannot be placed on the market or put into service until it has been made to comply with the Medical Device Regulation requirements for CE marking.