Two hardware components are crucial for angiographic image quality: the X-ray tube and the detector. The X-rays emitted by the tube pass through the patient and hit the detector, which converts them to image signals.
The second generation of Siemens' flat emitter technology is key to the advances made in the Xray tube for the Artis Q and Artis Q.zen product lines. Instead of the coiled filaments used in conventional X-ray tubes, flat emitter technology is used exclusively in the new tube to emit electrons. Flat emitters enable smaller quadratic focal spots that lead to improved visibility of small vessels by up to 70 percent. Both physicians and patients benefit from a high level of detail in imaging-supported interventional therapy. Neurologists can more precisely measure the blood circulation in specific areas of the brain, for example; while stenoses in the heart's smallest blood vessels can be spotted in coronary angiography.
Examinations using ultra-low dose radiation
The Artis Q.zen series combines the X-ray tube with a detector technology that allows detection at ultra-low radiation levels. Artis Q.zen imaging can use doses as low as half the usual levels normally applied in angiography. This improvement is the result of several innovations, including a fundamental change in detector technology. Until now, almost all detectors have been based on amorphous silicon. The new crystalline silicon structure of the Artis Q.zen detector is more homogenous, allowing for more effective amplification of the signal, greatly reducing the electronic noise even at ultra-low doses.
The Artis Q.zen was developed to support better imaging quality at ultra-low-dose ranges, reducing the radiation exposure of patients, physicians, and medical staff. This is especially important in dose-sensitive application fields such as pediatric cardiology and radiology, or electrophysiology, which is being used on more and more patients as rates of cardiac arrhythmia increase in an aging population.
Innovative applications for interventional imaging
In addition to the hardware innovations are several software applications that improve interventional imaging. In coronary artery disease treatment, the applications allow precise correlation of angiography images with ultrasound images taken by a probe inside the coronary arteries. Stents are imaged in real-time during therapy, with motion stabilization created by simultaneous correction for the heartbeat.
Other new 3D applications can image the smallest structures inside the head. Their high spatial resolution is crucial for imaging intracranial stents or other miniscule structures, such as the cochlea in the inner ear. Moving organs such as the lungs can be imaged in 3D in less than 3 seconds, reducing the number of motion artifacts and the amount of contrast agent required. Through visualization and measurement of blood volumes in the liver or other organs, Siemens' functional 3D imaging provides a basis for planning therapies such as chemo-embolization of hepatic tumors.
Launched in November 2011 by the Siemens Healthcare Sector, "Agenda 2013" is a two-year global initiative to further strengthen the Healthcare Sector's innovative power and competitiveness. Specific measures will be implemented in four fields of action: Innovation, Competitiveness, Regional Footprint, and People Development.
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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 51,000 employees worldwide and operates around the world. In fiscal year 2012 (to September 30), the Sector posted revenue of 13.6 billion euros and profit of 1.8 billion euros.