CR: Alive and Well in a Digital World
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I recently spoke with Radiology Today about computed radiography (CR) and how it is still being used widely throughout the world. Many people figured once digital radiography (DR) systems were intact they would replace and eventually phase out computed radiography (CR) from the imaging world. Well, they were wrong. In a world gone digital, it’s hard to imagine using equipment that doesn’t fit the trend, but when it comes to imaging there’s still a need for CR. The change in the use of CR is evident in the United States. It is slowly declining and being replaced by DR systems in many imaging facilities. However, the technology is not going away anytime soon—it’s simply found a new market for itself.
CR is moving to smaller facilities worldwide as well as in emerging markets. This is because the systems are easy to use and deliver significant advantages—such as affordable conversion—to facilities moving from film-based systems to digital. The need for this technology in smaller facilities worldwide in areas such as India, China, the Middle East, Russia, South America, and Africa, will keep CR around for quite a while thanks to their exponential growth.
For these lower volume facilities and clinics, CR is more practical than moving to DR because they don’t have the need for it. Their workflow is much less than hospitals or large imaging facilities that would benefit more by going digital. Many are on a limited budget and even though the cost of DR systems has dropped considerably, CR will always be the more affordable option.
Many of these facilities have opted for a budget-friendly system that integrates CR imaging with a “mini-PACS,” such as Carestream’s Image Suite Software. These systems deliver an affordable and convenient platform that allows staff members to capture, view, store, and output digital images. Mini-PACS can also provide specialized digital measuring tools and other features that can save time and help improve accuracy when interpreting images.
Converting to DR isn’t necessary for everyone but it definitely has its benefits for those considering the switch. The big one being related to dose reduction. It’s no secret that DR detectors, with cesium iodide scintillators, use less radiation than CR machines and are capable of limiting dosage. Dose management is a hot topic right now and will continue to be for a long time. But for many facilities throughout the world, the switch to digital is not possible, and reliable, efficient X-ray systems are still needed. Both DR and CR have their advantages, but one thing is for sure: regardless of DR’s growing popularity, CR will be sticking around for quite a while.
Where do you see CR heading in the future? Do you think the technology has longevity? Or, will DR eventually phase out CR systems around the world?