Overexposure to ionizing radiation during CT is a long-recognized problem but the industry focus on providing dose-reducing solutions has lagged considerably. While all major CT equipment manufacturers have recently began introducing new dose reduction technologies, Siemens Healthcare has differentiated itself through its consistent contributions of dose reduction technologies for CT since the early 1990s.
In 2006, Americans were exposed to more than seven times as much ionizing radiation from medical procedures than they were in the early 1980s, and nearly 25 percent of the total radiation exposure of the U.S. population came from CT procedures. This dramatic increase in Americans' exposure to ionizing radiation is largely a result of CT procedure volumes undergoing more than a twenty-fold increase over the last quarter century, from approximately 3 million exams in 1980 to 68 million in 2006.
"Siemens has long been proactive in addressing dose challenges in CT, and because of the company's foresightedness, initiative, and heavy investments in this area, Siemens is recognized as a leader in the development of dose reduction technologies for CT," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Roberto Aranibar. "Even the earliest of the company's innovations in this area continue to be effective in addressing current dose challenges despite the rapidly changing technology landscape of CT."
Beginning in 1994 with the release of the CARE (Combined Applications to Reduce Exposure) Dose4D feature, Siemens has continuously introduced novel and safe products and features in its scanners. In 1997, Siemens introduced the ultra fast ceramic (UFC) detector scintillating material. In 1999, the company developed an Adaptive ECG-Pulsing algorithm. Siemens's introduction of a low-energy scanning protocol in 2002 for pediatric imaging continued to address challenges in an increasingly prevalent patient group where dose must more carefully be considered. In 2005, a new generation of CT scanners was born, with Siemens's introduction of the world's first dual-source CT (DSCT) scanner, the SOMATOM Definition. Siemens's innovative momentum continued in 2007, with its introduction of Adaptive Dose Shield, a feature which further limited unnecessary irradiation of tissue. The years of 2008 and 2009 witnessed several more dose reduction technology contributions from Siemens, many of which have served to enhance the performance of the SOMATOM Definition Flash.
"The value of investing in a scanner equipped with the most effective dose reduction technologies is becoming increasingly evident as studies suggesting the risks of higher exposure to ionizing radiation continue to surface," says Aranibar. "The long-term patient benefits of these technologies far outweigh their often higher purchase costs."
This is particularly evident in facilities performing high volumes of coronary exams, where procedures often take up to an hour and a half without DSCT due to the need to administer slow-acting beta-blockers to patients with fast and/or irregular heart rhythms so that images of adequate quality can be obtained. The speed of DSCT eliminates the need for beta-blockers regardless of a patient's heart rate or regularity, permitting routine completion of coronary exams in less than 15 minutes and, thus, yielding significant improvements in productivity. DSCT also makes CT available to patients who would have previously been ineligible due to their high and/or irregular heart rates and inability to handle beta-blockers. The speed of DSCT also results in significant advantages in acute care and emergency room applications by eliminating the need for patients to lie still or hold their breath.
"Siemens has not only integrated its dose reduction technologies into numerous CT models, ranging from entry-level, dual-slice scanners to premium-grade, 256-slice DSCT scanners but also put its CT technologies to use in areas beyond the scope of medical imaging," notes Aranibar. "For instance, the ability of Siemens's UFC technology to provide high-resolution images in fractions of a second has been used to improve the performance of equipment used in airport security X-ray and automotive applications of non-destructive testing."
Siemens Healthcare invests 9 to 11 percent of its annual revenues on R&D. Over 5,000 of the company's employees work in roles dedicated to R&D, generating an average of five patents per business day. Ninety percent of the company's sales are for products which are less than three years old. In 2005 alone, Siemens Healthcare was estimated to have had over 1,300 invention disclosures and 1,000 patent filings, with over 3,700 active patents as of the end of FY 2005.
Overall, Siemens has a long history and proven track record of developing and introducing technologies that have ultimately had a major impact on shaping the role and capabilities of CT in medicine. With the introduction of the DSCT scanner – perhaps the company's most unique and distinctive new technology – Siemens has clearly shown its pioneering spirit in CT. While the future impact of DSCT in CT imaging is still uncertain, the eventual adoption of this technology as an industry standard would solidify Siemens's reputation as a visionary in the field of CT.
In recognition of its ongoing commitment to R&D in the area of CT dose reduction and its focus on adding long-term value to its customers' investments in the company's CT products, Siemens Healthcare is the worthy recipient of the 2010 North American Frost & Sullivan Award for Technology Leadership of the Year. Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the company that has demonstrated uniqueness in developing a technology, which significantly impacts both the functionality and the customer value of the new products and applications. The award lauds the relevance of the innovation to the industry.
Frost & Sullivan's Best Practices Awards recognize companies in a variety of regional and global markets for demonstrating outstanding achievement and superior performance in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer service, and strategic product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis, and extensive secondary research in order to identify best practices in the industry.
About Siemens Healthcare
The Siemens Healthcare Sector is one of the world's largest suppliers to the healthcare industry and a trendsetter in medical imaging, laboratory diagnostics, medical information technology and hearing aids. Siemens offers its customers products and solutions for the entire range of patient care from a single source – from prevention and early detection to diagnosis, and on to treatment and aftercare. By optimizing clinical workflows for the most common diseases, Siemens also makes healthcare faster, better and more cost-effective. Siemens Healthcare employs some 48,000 employees worldwide and operates around the world. For further information please visit siemens.com/healthcare.
About Frost & Sullivan
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