Medical Imaging- A Patent Insight

This post was first published on February 21st, 2012.
Medical Imaging is in full flow and offers several advantages for clinicians to diagnose the patient’s health thoroughly.  Medical imaging is the technique and the process to create images of the human body or parts for clinical purposes and is often perceived to designate the set of techniques that noninvasively produce images of internal aspects of the body. The imaging technologies involved in medical imaging are Radiography, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Fiduciary Markers, Nuclear medicine, Photoacoustic imaging, Breast Thermography, Tomography, and Ultrasound. These imaging technologies have their own way of acquiring images. This post will give an insight into the Computed Tomography (CT) and Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Computed tomography (CT) or Computed axial tomography (CAT) is a technique used for medical imaging and industrial imaging methods employing tomography created by computer processing. CT generates a multi-slice three-dimensional image of the inside of an object from a large series of two-dimensional X-ray images taken around a single axis of rotation.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to visualize detailed internal
structures. MRI makes use of the property of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to image nuclei of atoms inside the body. MRI machine uses a powerful magnetic field to align the magnetization of some atomic nuclei in the body, and radio frequency fields to systematically alter the alignment of this magnetization. This causes the nuclei to produce a rotating magnetic field detectable by the scanner and this information is recorded to construct an image of the scanned area of the body.
Some companies like General Electric (GE), Siemens, Philips and Toshiba involved in the manufacturing of CT and MRI machines. These companies have many patent filings in the Indian patent office related to the CT and MRI. We went one step further to unveil the technology that General Electric (GE) filed in the Indian Patent Office.
The graph on the top shows that GE filed patent applications related to image analysis that includes enhancing image intensity, analyzing image structure for reconstruction, 3D imaging and optimizing image noise. Some parts of applications filed is very pertinent to the CT and MRI device itself such as the arrangement of X-ray collimator and detector to obtain the Region of Interest (ROI) of the patient. Also, some applications are related to the arrangement of Radio Frequency (RF) coils in the MRI device. Other applications are related to image segmentation and MRI artifacts reduction. An image artifact is a structure not normally present but visible as a result of a limitation or malfunction in the hardware or software of the MRI device, or in other cases a consequence of environmental influences as heat or humidity. Artifact affects the image quality and gives confusing artifactual appearances with pathology that may be misdiagnosed by the person. Apart from this, GE filed applications related to mammography, portable imaging system, mobile healthcare, and ultrasound imaging.
General Electric has series of products in CT and MRI imaging that includes Discovery CT750 HD, LightSpeed VCT XTe, Optima CT 520, Optima CT 660, Brivo CT325 etc., for CT and Brivo* MR235, Brivo* MR355, Optima MR360 1.5T, Optima MR450W 1.5T, Discovery* MR750w 3.0T etc., for MRI scan respectively.
With the technology that the abovementioned companies built-in their products it becomes easy for the physician to efficiently diagnose a patient’s health condition appropriately.
The data provided is based on the search performed on some patent databases including Indian patent office’s database by using specific search queries and may not be complete due to limitations in the extent of data or search query.
Author: Raghu

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