Diagnostics & Imaging Weeks

Finally some good news in radiotherapy for French Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot.

With the first year of her administration marked by revelations of thousands of patients burned by radiotherapy, Bachelot went out of her way to lead the inauguration of an advanced image-guided radiotherapy suite recently installed at the Georges-Fran ois Leclerc Cancer Center (Dijon, France).

In addition to standard radiation therapies, the Trilogy linear accelerator from Varian Medical Systems (Palo Alto, California) offers stereotactic radiosurgery as an alternative treatment for cancers that are either inoperable or can not be treated by chemotherapies.

Combining conventional and stereotactic therapies in a single unit with on-board imaging to plan and guide dosage, Varian positions Trilogy as a versatile and high-throughput radiotherapy system.

Radiotherapies to be offered at the Dijon clinic include intensity-modulated radiotherapy treatments (IMRT), image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) and whole-body stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS).

Professor Philippe Maingon, head of radiation oncology at the Dijon center, said the first application for the new Trilogy unit will be prostate cancer treatments using the system's advanced cone-beam CT imaging capabilities to validate the accuracy of patient set-up positioning prior to treatment in a dose-escalation program.

Five prostate cancer patients died and another 495 were severely burned in radiotherapy administered by technicians who had tampered with the settings at Jean-Monnet Hospital in Epinal, which is within the 200-kilometer service area of the Dijon clinic.

The Dijon clinic also will participate in a national clinical research trial involving hypo-fractionated stereotactic treatment of lung tumors.

Researcher demonstrates steerable pill camera

Pill cameras are proven diagnostic tools for the colon and points south in the body, where the capsule moves slowly through the natural digestive processes, sending images at the rate of two frames per second for several hours.

But because the capsule passes through the esophagus in less than five seconds and the 5-gram imaging device drops quickly to the bottom of the stomach, pill cameras have been impractical for reliable images of affected tissue in these regions.

The first control system for a camera pill, using a hand-held magnet the size of a bar of chocolate, has been developed through a research collaboration led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering (Sankt Ingbert, Germany) and involving Given Imaging (Yokneam, Israel), Israelite Hospital (Hamburg, Germany) and Royal Imperial College (London).

The physician holds the magnet during the examination, moving it up or down and the camera capsule follows the motion precisely, according to Dr. Frank Volke of the Fraunhofer Institute.

The prototype of the steerable camera pill passed its first practical test in the human body in early June with the researchers conducting a "self-experiment" demonstrating the camera can be held in the esophagus for almost 10 minutes, even when the patient was sitting upright.

"In the future, doctors will be able to stop the camera in the esophagus, move it up and down and turn it, and thus adjust the angle of the camera as required," said Volke. "This allows them to make a precise examination of the junction between the esophagus and the stomach and we can even scan the stomach walls."

Irish cancer screening tied to Quest

Quest Diagnostics (Madison, New Jersey), a global leader in cervical-cancer screening services, will soon begin offering those services in Ireland under a new nationwide program.

Through a contract with the Irish National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS), Quest will provide screening services intended to improve medical outcomes and reduce wait time for women ages 25 to 60 who participate in that country's first broad-based cytology-screening program.

Ronald Kennedy, MD, Quest's corporate medical director, quality assurance in anatomic pathology, said, "Our goal for this historic cytology-screening program is to ensure that Irish women experience the highest quality of testing and service excellence, with the goal of minimizing the incidence of cervical cancer."

Quest's relationship with the medical community of Ireland began in 2006, when the Health Service Executive (HSE), the national health administrator for Ireland, engaged the company's services of to help reduce a critical backlog of Pap-based cervical-cancer tests that required screening. Since early 2007, Quest has performed about 50,000 Pap smears in connection with this continuing project, helping to improve the delivery of timely results.

Under the new screening program, Quest will perform testing on roughly 300,000 Pap smears annually at two accredited, full-service laboratories in the U.S. It operates about 30 accredited, full-service laboratories in the U.S. that could provide backup capabilities if required.

Additionally, the company will provide general practitioners and consultant colposcopists in Ireland with a toll-free phone number to consult with Quest's medical experts about a patient's test results.

Israeli researchers develop hand gesture system

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU; Beer Sheva, Israel) have developed a new hand gesture recognition system, tested at a Washington hospital, that enables doctors to manipulate digital images during medical procedures by motioning instead of touching a screen, keyboard or mouse which compromises sterility and could spread infection, according to a just-released article.

The article, "A Gesture-based Tool for Sterile Browsing of Radiology Images," appears in the June issue of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. It reports on what the authors believe is the first time a hand gesture recognition system was successfully implemented in an actual in vivo neurosurgical brain biopsy. It was tested at the Washington Hospital Center.

Lead researcher Juan Wachs, a recent PhD recipient from the department of industrial engineering and management at the Israeli university, said, "A sterile human-machine interface is of supreme importance because it is the means by which the surgeon controls medical information, avoiding patient contamination, the operating room (OR) and the other surgeons."

Wachs said the Gestix system could replace touch-screens now used in many hospital operating rooms which must be sealed to prevent accumulation or spreading of contaminants and requires smooth surfaces that must be thoroughly cleaned after each procedure — but sometimes aren't.