Just think: a 3D study that exposes patients to a fraction of the radiation dose as a CT or X-ray. FDA approved in 2011, the sterEOS system is designed to provide unique weight bearing images of the hip, knee, and spine. CT technology has been the gold standard for hard tissue imaging since it first appeared in the 70s. It has become so effective that each year there are over 62 million CT scans prescribed in the U.S. Although a proven tool, its radiation exposure to patients has made the routine use of the technology a concern.
The sterEOS is a X-ray-based biplane system with a 3D workstation. Along with the ability to provide 1:1 3D images of a patients skeletal system, its xenon gas detector delivers less than 10% of the radiation as existing film X-ray technology and up to 1,000 times less than a CT scan. This makes it very attractive for younger patients.
I asked Dr. Michael R. Terk, M.D., professor of Radiology, division director of Musculoskeletal Radiology, and director of Musculoskeletal Imaging at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA, about the advantages of 3D. He said, “The advantage of a 3D image over a 2D image is it gives you a greater ability to conceptualize the complex anatomy in space. When you are only looking at an X-ray, you are looking at three dimensions compressed into two and this is a problem. I think the 3D imaging is particularly useful for certain places like the pelvis, the head and neck, and in the spine where there is growing interest. The spine is a complex structure and I admire our surgical colleagues who are able to do as good of a job as they do now.
Clinical trials also support the advantages of the technology. When comparing existing computed radiography to the EOS system, the average dose was reduced from six to nine times when viewing the spine. Physicians also reported improved image quality.
With the growth of the computer-assisted surgery market, the need for 3D images will continue to increase. Although EOS technology has just recently hit the U.S. market, you have got to be pretty excited about a technology that can deliver on both safety and quality. Combine this with what appears to be lower costs and it is likely to be very attractive for orthopedic imaging applications.