U. of Michigan tests new technology that significantly lowers CT scan radiation

New technology developed by GE Healthcare has helped researchers with the University of Michigan Health System perform high-quality CT scans using only a fraction of the radiation typically required.

The technology, known as Veo, processes data differently via a technique known as Model-based Iterative Reconstruction (MBIR), according to U-M radiology and biomedical engineering professor Jeff Fessler. Essentially, sophisticated algorithms enable Veo to pull more data from existing X-rays.

As a result, the radiation dose from a chest CT scan using Veo is equivalent to one or two chest X-rays. A normal chest CT scan is equal to roughly 70 chest X-rays, U-M Medical School radiology professor Ella Kazerooni said. The University of Michigan Hospital System is the first U.S. teaching hospital to use the technology.

Kazerooni described the images created by CT scans using Veo as "a little waxy looking," but added that radiologists still can see critical patient information.

One drawback to the technology, however, is lack of speed. Due to the algorithms used by Veo, only about two scans can be processed per hour. Normally, CT image processing is instantaneous.

"The algorithms are still slower than we want them to be, but we're already working on developing a next generation that will be faster and make it easier for them to be used more widely," Fessler said.

Added Kazerooni: "So, we're not going to use it on someone in the emergency department or our inpatient units who has a medical need to get the results back quickly."

Veo technology already is in use in Europe, Canada and Asia, as well as on one scanner at U-M. Veo is expected to be rolled out to the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and throughout the University Hospital campus, both in Ann Arbor, in the near future.

To learn more:
- read this U-M announcement