At the Radiological Society of North America (#RSNA14) annual meeting, GE Healthcare (NYSE: GE) announced FDA clearance for a new software enhancement for its acclaimed LOGIQ E9 ultrasound system called Shear Wave elastography. The new expert tool instantaneously generates a precise, quantifiable measure of tissue stiffness, providing clinicians with accurate and consistent data which may be used to identify underlying disease. Stiff tissue found during routine physical exams can be an early indication of disease and a gradual change in liver tissue stiffness can indicate the progression of liver fibrosis.
Shear Wave’s power to provide a quantifiable measure of tissue stiffness may help enable clinicians to assess disease in the liver, breast and other organs immediately. Previous strain elastography technology required clinicians to manually palpate a patient to identify stiff tissue and produced a measure of stiffness relative only to other tissue within the same patient’s body. GE Healthcare’s Shear Wave elastography uses acoustic energy from the ultrasound transducer to automatically and instantaneously produce a numeric measure of stiffness on an absolute scale.
“Giving physicians the ability to non-invasively measure and quantify tissue stiffness in a consistent way can help boost their productivity and clinical confidence and can be a valuable tool in the diagnosis and management of disease,” said Brian McEathron, general manager of General Imaging Ultrasound for GE Healthcare. “This expert tool for our LOGIQ E9 is among a series of upgrades we made by listening to users and designing cost effective upgrades to help address everyday imaging challenges.”
The technology measures the speed of the Shear Waves as they travel through tissue in the body. It instantly and continuously displays the results on a 2D real-time, color-coded ultrasound image, with a low speed corresponding to softer tissue and a high speed corresponding to stiffer tissue.
“Being able to instantaneously view a color-coded ultrasound image with numeric results for tissue stiffness during patient exams means more efficiency in how we assess and manage patients’ disease,” said Dr. John McGahan, a Sacramento-based interventional and diagnostic radiologist. “It also offers a less invasive method of staging liver fibrosis for the patient, which should give both clinicians and patients more confidence in the results.”
Liver fibrosis can result from various types of chronic damage to the liver and Cirrhosis, the end stage of fibrosis, affects millions of people worldwide. Liver fibrosis is currently assessed using needle biopsy, an invasive procedure that may not be conducive to repeat biopsies. Ultrasound Shear Wave elastography is a non-invasive, low cost, portable way to help physicians assess liver fibrosis that is suitable for use in a variety of clinical settings. The LOGIQ E9 enables Shear Wave elastography to be performed rapidly at the same time as an abdominal ultrasound exam.