Evaluating New Equipment features and understanding their impact

The University of Derby’s, Heather Venables, Senior Lecturer and BMUS representative to CASE Council shares her top tips for evaluation of new equipment features.

1) Start by considering imaging objectives.

We need to see stuff that matters, understand the significance of what we see and know the limitations of the scan. Think this through for a range of investigations.

2) How does this new equipment feature work? (If necessary, appoint a ‘physics champion’ in your team and task them with finding out!)

Does it alter how the image is formed, how the signal is processed or how it is displayed? What are the potential benefits / compromises? (e.g. would you expect a change in image resolution or penetration?)  Can it be adjusted by the operator or is it an on/off or fixed feature?

3) What is the impact of this new technology in practice?

How does the image change when this feature is used? (Look closely at specific anatomical features, not just the image as a whole) What does the ‘new normal’ look like? Are you seeing anything that was previously not visible? How will you interpret these appearances? What is the impact on artefacts? Has anything disappeared? Is there any risk of image misinterpretation?

4) Is there any impact on measurements?

Could changes in the image affect measurement accuracy or reproducibility? Will you need to consider a change in measurement protocols or normal cut off values if key landmarks for measurement look different?  (If you can’t find anything in the current literature, consider publishing your own local data if discrepancies are noted.)

5) Think about how you will use the new feature.

Do you need to adjust any other controls when the new feature is used? Should it be part of the pre-set for specific investigations or specific patients? (e.g. High BMI) When should it be switched off? Do local protocols need to be amended? How will you communicate recommendations to your team? (Be creative!)