Detecting Silicosis and Lung Cancer Early with Portable X-ray Device

Reading Time: 4 minutes read

Transportable Carestream detector brings chest X-rays directly to worker sites.

By Melanie Brewster, Managing Director, Industrial Diagnostics Company. 

Exposure to fine dust containing fine particles of sand known as Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) can cause irreversible lung damage in the form of nodules of scar tissue which can take years to develop. Early detection of the condition is essential and a portable X-ray medical imaging device from Carestream allows us to deliver chest X-ray screening directly to workers at their place of work.

IDC and their Carestream portable X-ray device

Symptoms related to advanced silicosis can include coughing and breathing difficulties. According to the Health and Safety Executive, people who have silicosis and/or have been exposed to RCS also carry a higher risk of developing other medical conditions such as lung cancer, tuberculosis, kidney disease and arthritis.

Early detection is essential since the symptoms of silicosis usually take many years to develop. The symptoms can also continue to get worse, even if the worker is no longer exposed to silica dust, according to NHS Choices. The only effective method for early detection of silicosis is a chest X-ray.

The Health and Safety Executive advises that companies provide health surveillance for silicosis for their workers in high-risk occupations. These include construction, foundry, brick and tile work, ceramics, slate, manufacturing, quarries, and stonework. In the United Kingdom where we are located, there are about 18,000 workers in quarries alone, according to the Mineral Products Association.

Portable X-ray device increase access to screening

If detected early enough, precautions can be taken to control the risk of fibrosis which can lead to silicosis. Thanks to our new CARESTREAM DRX-1 Transportable System/Field Portable X-ray system, we are bringing early proactive screening to more workers.

The DRX Transportable unit is highly portable so we can bring it directly to quarry and mining sites which are often remote and inaccessible to standard vehicle-mounted X-ray units. It takes less than 10 minutes to carry out an assessment and as the dose level is extremely low we can use a room on site rather than a specialised mobile unit.

After we capture the image, we can send it wirelessly to our CARESTREAM PACS system back at base. When there is no wireless signal available, the image is stored on the DRX-1 Detector until we return to base and upload it.

The images must be viewed on a specialised screen with very high resolution. They can only be read by radiologists who are trained and skilled in detecting the minute changes in the lungs that could indicate silicosis. Our CARESTREAM PACS makes it possible for us to get the images to these few skilled radiologists who create the reports. The subsequent report is then distributed and clinically managed according to the results.

If we didn’t bring the X-ray examination to the workers, it would be much more difficult, costly and time consuming to deliver an appropriate screening program. Additionally, it would be difficult to guarantee a specialist and consistent approach and the data would be much less readily available for specific research into the incidence of silicosis.

With the CARESTREAM DRX-1 Transportable System/Field Portable X-ray system, we are bringing high quality digital chest X-ray service with a fast turnaround from exam to results directly to client locations. And we are hopeful that it will result in earlier detection of silicosis from more of the UK’s RCS exposed workers.

Click to tweet: IDC brings chest X-rays directly to worker sites w/transportable Carestream detector

Click to tweet: Portable #X-ray device from Carestream helps IDC detect silicosis and lung cancer earlier

Learn more about the CARESTREAM DRX-1 Transportable System/Field Portable X-ray system.   #radiology  #portablex-ray

And read the blog by the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance on the importance of keeping your lungs healthy by avoiding toxic substances, like asbestos.

photo of Melanie BrewsterMelanie Brewster is Managing Director at Industrial Diagnostics Company Ltd (IDC) is one of the most established Occupational Health firms in the UK, providing effective advice on managing health and work related issues and robust health surveillance programs. Based in Leicestershire, they offer a full remit of services.




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