GE Healthcare

Recently, I visited the General Electric (GE) Healthcare division’s site in Waukesha (WI), there main profile being imaging. Even though GE has not been involved with interventional technologies, there is a recent shift towards intra-operative navigation and image guided surgery. (Interventional radiology has long been on their pallet.) Out of the six main US sites where they deal with medical imaging and other technologies, Waukesha is the and biggest. Most of their focus is on the big imaging machines of GE, including several product lines of CTs, MRs, PETs and X-rays.
The first floor of the main (CT) building is taken up by the assembly halls, the test facilities and the showcase for the visitors. The second floor is more for sales, marketing and other product related activities, while an entire floor is dedicated to engineering R&D.
One of my friends works here now, so first she gave me a tour, than I got an insight guided visit from her team leader. I was introduced to the latest imaging machines, just about to enter the market. The VCT HD Lightspeed dual scanner can perform scans with two different radiation levels, saving the patient from significant dose exposure. This is the fastest and highest resolution device available (0.23 mm slice thickness); with 64 detector rows it can scan 40 mm tissue at a time, making it capable of doing e.g. brain perfusion imaging or dynamic heart imaging. The new PET/CT will hit the market next year, dedicated to tumor imaging combined with physiological analysis. It features high-sensitivity crystals and Vue Point HD high-definition image processing techniques.
The manufacturing hall has three parallel assembly lines, and although the machines are constructed manually, they have the capacity of 1100 unit / year. Further assembly sites are in Japan and China. There are more than 70 service and development bays attached to the hall, each with a shielded room to contain an imaging device and additional controller. Besides testing and servicing, developers can also get to work on their machines here. The facilities include clean rooms and a separate detector research area as well.
Many of the R&D projects are out of site, and GE often acquire smaller companies with promising technologies. In Waukesha, they focus on the software side, both researching advanced algorithms and implementing additional features to their main support software, the AW. The AW consists of many modules specifically optimized and tuned to certain procedures (e.g. to assist with coronary artery imaging), and the costumers can buy each module separately. Its segmenting capabilities are very impressive and believed to be superior to the competitors’.


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