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Providing adequate healthcare in resource-limited regions of the world is a difficult task. Part of this difficulty is due to economic constraints, and part is due to the lack of advanced medical infrastructure. A standard component of state-of-the-art medical care in developed parts of the world is volumetric imaging such as CT or MR. However, such scanners are typically not available in resource-limited regions. For example, in certain regions of sub-Saharan Africa, regional medical centers serving a population of up to one million people often have no CT or MR scanners. The lack of CT scanners limits the level of care that can be provided, and often makes it difficult to assess which patients would benefit from transfer to a larger medical center. Such transfers of patients are costly and burdensome to the families involved and yet it is difficult to make medical decisions on which patients to transfer because of inadequate imaging equipment. Lack of adequate imaging equipment also complicates the clinical management of patients with trauma, infection, hemorrhage, stroke, or malignancies. In short, the lack of CT scanners makes it difficult to provide a higher level of care at these intermediate-sized hospitals.

It would be ideal if there were sufficient funding to provide CT or MR scanners to all such regions, but that is not currently realistic. Instead, we are evaluating the design of a lower-cost CT device that would be appropriate given the economic constraints in such regions. This CT scanner must cost a small fraction of what a traditional scanner would cost in order to be feasible. Our proposed CT scanner eliminates the rotating gantry, which is one of the most expensive components of a traditional CT machine, and instead rotates the patient. Cone-beam CT is then performed using a stationary digital flat-panel detector to reconstruct the tomographic images. While the cost of such a system is not inconsequential, it is nonetheless much less than a standard CT machine, and the device can also function as a conventional x-ray imaging facility when not being used for CT. Thus, the incremental cost of adding CT to this device is minimal.

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Associated publications:
James T. Dobbins III, Jered R. Wells, W. Paul Segars, Christina M. Li and Christopher J. N. Kigongo, "Initial investigation into lower-cost CT for resource limited regions of the world", Proc. SPIE 7622, 76223C (2010); doi:10.1117/12.844293

Jered R. Wells, W. Paul Segars, Christopher J. N. Kigongo and James T. Dobbins III, "Refinement of motion correction strategies for lower-cost CT for under-resourced regions of the world", Proc. SPIE 7961, 796133 (2011); doi:10.1117/12.878697

Poster presentation - NIBIB Training Grantees Meeting, Bethesda, MD - June 24-25, 2010 - "A post-acquisition motion correction strategy for lower-cost computed tomography for the developing world"

Poster presentation - Memphis Bioimaging Symposium, Memphis, TN - Novermber 4-5, 2010 - "A new approach to motion correction applied to lower-cost CT for the developing world" - Received Honorable Mention Award

Poster presentation - SPIE Medical Imaging 2011, Lake Buena Vista, FL - February 12-17, 2011 - "Refinement of motion correction strategies for lower-cost CT for under-resourced regions of the world" - Included conference proceedings