CAD extends reach into routine clinical practice

Developers of computer-aided detection (CAD) software are enjoying a perfect storm of forces that is leading to increased adoption of their software applications.

CadOne major force is the vast amount of image data being produced by modality scanners -- data that must be processed by today's radiologists. From cardiac CT angiography to virtual colonoscopy, imaging professionals are turning to CAD to help them cope.

Another factor is the ongoing migration of analog modalities to digital. In mammography, the first application for CAD, the technology has been aided by the growth in sales of full-field digital mammography (FFDM) systems. Mammography CAD will likely get a further boost now that computed radiography (CR)-based digital mammography systems -- which are much cheaper than FFDM units -- are available in the U.S. Some vendors are developing CAD applications designed to work specifically with CR mammography units.

Finally, CAD vendors have realized that their software is not as appealing when it functions as a silo separated from the rest of radiology's workflow. Vendors have been spending the last several years integrating their applications with those of PACS and 3D vendors, so that CAD markings can be automatically delivered to users along with the primary image study.

In another major milestone in 2006, third-party insurance payors began reimbursing for lung CAD studies using digital radiography systems. As of September 2006, 52 national, regional, and local payors representing over 60 million covered lives were paying for lung CAD studies, according to a study published in October by research firm HealthCare Market Strategies of Yamhill, OR. The study found that facilities were receiving between $10 and $27 for the studies.

At this year's RSNA show, look for vendors to highlight enhancements to CAD algorithms that make the applications more sensitive to pathology while delivering fewer false positives. Corporate alliances will also be commonplace as 3D and PACS firms look for CAD partners to add functionality to their offerings.

Page 1 of 368
Next Page