GE scores FDA clearance for tool that speeds up MRI scan times to help tackle backlog

GE Healthcare has earned clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a deep learning tool that it says can help radiologists speed up MRI scan times.

The Chicago-based imaging giant said its new AIR Recon DL could prove useful in helping providers work through the enormous backlog of exams built up since the start of the pandemic. In MRI alone, GE estimated that scans slated for upward of 5 million patients in the U.S. have been postponed since March.

“As we transition to a post-COVID world, MR providers face a significant backlog of patient exams. AIR Recon DL can not only help providers scan more patients per day, but also allows more time to disinfect equipment between patients,” Jie Xue, president and CEO of GE’s magnetic resonance division, said in a statement issued Thursday.

General Electric said its deep learning-based reconstruction engine makes use of raw data to allow for “maximum image quality.” It aids rads and technologists, the firm said, by boosting signal-to-noise ratio, and harnessing “intelligent ringing suppression” to preserve finer details. Recent research has raised concerns that image reconstruction algorithms may lead to incorrect diagnoses, but GE hopes its new platform can help to eliminate some of these common quibbles, according to the announcement.

U.S. imaging providers such as the Hospital for Special Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, RadNet, and the MD Anderson Cancer Center teamed with GE in developing the technology. It is currently available on the company’s 3T MR systems.

In other GE news, the larger umbrella corporation over its healthcare division also announced on Wednesday that the firm is selling its lighting line to Savant Systems. Terms for 129-year-old product line’s sale were not disclosed, while CNN labeled the deal as “the latest step in dismantling the GE empire.”