iCAD releases upgraded digital system

Nashua-based iCAD has launched the newest version of its film digitizer for mammograms.

TotalLook version 8.0 converts film mammograms into a digital format, preserving the clinical quality of the radiograph as well as reducing the need for physical storage space and enabling comparative reviews with other computer images.

According to Marc Filerman, vice president of global marketing for the firm, TotalLook works something like a scanner that turns film snapshots into digital pictures that can be viewed and manipulated on a computer — only much more sophisticated.

TotalLook’s resolution of digitized images, or films that have been converted into computer images, is just over 43 micron spot sizes, or 400,000ths of an inch (0.00004). Digital images, images that were originally taken in a computer file format, are in the range of 50 to 100 microns of resolution, with film originals about 50 microns.

The software also can integrate with existing radiology and hospital information systems as well as picture archiving and communication systems, or PACS, decreasing the need to manually enter patient demographic information.

Hospitals often purchase a digitizing system when they are moving to a fully digital PACS, allowing for the archival and comparison of prior film images.

“Standards mandate that mammograms must be compared to any previously existing images,” said Filerman.

Typically, radiologists and other health-care providers must look at a digital mammography image on a computer screen then leave that workstation to view an earlier film version on light box. TotalLook allows for the simultaneous review of a digital image and a digitized film image.

Michael P. Cloutier, manager of technical services at the 330-bed Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, said in a release, “The TotalLook system helped our transition from film to digital because it allows us to easily review high quality digitized images right next to our digital images on our review workstations.”

TotalLook also allows physicians to adjust the digitized image, such as changing the gray scale to highlight the mammogram, to help match it to a true digital version as different vendors’ images can have different non-clinical visual nuances.

One of the most important benefits of the latest TotalLook upgrade, according to Filerman, is its ability to compress file images up to 75 percent but maintain their diagnostic quality.

“Image compression is like brewing a cup of coffee. The coffee can never be brewed fast enough — as long as it’s good coffee,” he said. “The important point is TotalLook’s ability to reduce the file size yet save the image quality within proven acceptable clinical parameters.”

Smaller image file sizes are also important because, like any computer file, it decreases file storage needs and access time.

iCAD officials said a typical facility could save nearly 5 terabytes of storage space each year with its new product.

“This has helped improve the quality of care we deliver and has made life easier for our radiologists. We are very much looking forward to the new image compression because it will reduce the load on our network and enable our images to be recalled much faster,” said CMC’s Cloutier.

iCAD also said it is exploring similar technology for digitizing colonoscopy films.

Filerman estimated the current digital market at less 20 percent of hospitals, with approximately 9,200 sites, however industry leaders said digital radiology is the technology of the future for mammograms. — CINDY KIBBE

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