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 ST. PAUL, Minn., Aug. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- One of the most significant innovations in medical imaging film technology hits a milestone this year. Twenty years ago, 3M (NYSE: MMM) introduced the Trimax(TM) system, an intensifying screen system that allowed radiologists to greatly reduce the amount of radiation needed for X-ray examinations. 3M(TM) Trimax and similar screen systems are credited with causing significant changes in the application of radiology.
 "Unless you were involved in radiology before rare-earth intensifying screens were used, it's really hard to appreciate just how big a change these caused," said Edward Harder, industry manager for 3M Medical Imaging Systems. "In the 1970s, most radiologists were using the same basic screen technology that had been developed in the 1920s. Rare-earth intensifying screens were a major improvement for both radiologist and patient."
 Prior to the introduction of the 3M Trimax system, X-ray devices exposed film sandwiched between calcium tungstate screens. The screens were used to decrease the radiation dose necessary to produce an X-ray image on film.
 The 3M Trimax system was the first commercially available medical imaging film system to use rare-earth phosphors coatings on screens, along with film developed especially for these screens. These phosphors absorbed more X-ray photons and glowed producing more light amplification. As a result, X-ray doses could be cut by one-quarter to one-half of the original dose needed to produce a diagnostic image.
 "The idea that X-ray doses could be cut by 25 to 50 percent was revolutionary," Harder said. "I was involved in some of the initial testing, and radiologists were simply amazed. Even after the 3M Trimax system was made available, some people just didn't believe it could work. There was a lot of overexposed film until radiologists got used to backing off doses."
 The greatest effect of the 3M Trimax system and other intensifying screens has been on how and what type of radiology services are available to patients. "With less radiation per dose, a number of procedures that weren't feasible before were now acceptable," Harder said. "Mammography could now become routine rather than the exception. Neonatal and pediatric radiology became more practical as well."
 Specialized procedures also benefited from the reduction in radiation. Cerebral and cardiovascular angiography were greatly improved through the use of intensifying screen systems.
 Intensifying screen systems and the subsequent reduction in radiation dose had a dramatic effect on X-ray equipment technology as well. Since less radiation was required, lower-powered equipment could now be used. Portable X-ray systems were developed that offered X-ray results which were equal in quality to those made with stationery equipment.
 "Small X-ray devices opened the door for X-ray clinics and imaging centers independent from hospitals, as well as mobile X-ray systems," Harder said. "With less radiation needed per exam, it became easier for primary-care physicians to operate and maintain equipment in their own offices. Patients now had new choices for X-ray exams, including mobile X-ray vans.
 "I think a number of lives may have been saved because patients had much greater access to examinations, especially when you consider the increased use of mammography. It's amazing to see the changes that occurred as a result of a better X-ray film system."
 Today, conventional medical imaging accounts for 70 to 80 percent of all diagnostic imaging procedures. Rare-earth intensifying screens are used in nearly 100 percent of the X-ray devices used in the developed world. As diagnostic imaging continues to evolve, the impact of intensifying screen technology over the last 20 years has been significant in the spread of diagnostic imaging services.
 With headquarters in St. Paul, 3M Medical Imaging Systems develops, manufactures and markets diagnostic imaging films and processors for X-ray and electronic imaging systems. It is the world's leading supplier of laser imaging machines for producing diagnostic images directly from electronic imaging systems and one of 15 health-care divisions at 3M.
 -0- 8/25/93
 /CONTACT: William G. Fuesz of Colle & McVoy Public Relations, 612-851-2525, for 3M/

CO: Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing; 3M Medical Imaging Systems ST: Minnesota IN: MTC SU:

DB-AL -- MN009 -- 5885 08/25/93 16:57 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 25, 1993

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