What Is Power Injection?
Injecting contrast media into the bloodstream of patients enables visualization of various pathologies through X-ray, computed tomography, magnetic resonance, or other medical-imaging modalities. Contrast delivery is most effective and efficient using a medical device called a “power injector” that can be programmed to deliver specific amounts of contrast agent at specific flow rates.
Power injection is an important advancement that, when combined with state-of-the-art scanner technology, has made risky and expensive exploratory surgery virtually a relic of the past. Practical uses of power injection are found whenever contrast delivery is needed during many types of diagnostic and therapeutic medical procedures.
A power injector may be used as a part of imaging procedures that help to diagnose stroke, heart disease, cancer, vascular disease, physical injury, digestive disorder, and more.
Four Basic Truths of Power Injection
Generally, power injection is beneficial for these four reasons:
Tight "Bolus" of Contrast Media
The amount of contrast can be concentrated in the area of interest during the scan. A tight "bolus" provides maximum enhancement and visualization in the final image without a lot of waste.
Precise Timing of Contrast-Media Delivery
Timing of delivery can be closely controlled, which is especially important when imaging the heart. Faster scanners make precise timing even more critical. For example, some cardiac CT scanners take images in less than one second, requiring a precise amount of contrast in the heart during this window of time.
Consistent, Reproducible, Patient-Specific Results
Power injectors deliver a consistent flow rate and volume from scan to scan. Bayer's Certegra® P3T® technology allows physicians to easily customize injection protocols for specific studies and specific patients.
Time and Cost Savings
Automated features of Bayer's Medrad power injection systems enable them to be part of a very efficient healthcare procedure that saves time and money.
Power injectors consist of a "head" where syringes are inserted on the injector head and then the technologist fills a syringe with contrast media and the other with saline. Plungers push the contrast media out of the syringes into tubing attached to a patient's vascular system. Because it is desirable to minimize the tubing needed, the power injector resides in the scan room near the patient. It can be mounted on a floor pedestal or from an overhead mount. There is a computer "control unit" in the control room, where flow rates and volumes are programmed and the injection is started and stopped.
The power injector is a complex medical device that is a part of imaging procedures that can help improve diagnosis, treatment, and, ultimately, patient outcomes. Using sophisticated design, innovative materials, computer processors, touchscreen technology, wireless networking, and more, manufacturers of power injection systems have produced the units to be very useful, efficient, and sophisticated tools for healthcare professionals.
Today's power injection systems are becoming an integral part of the hospital information system. Data from each injection can be stored and entered into patient records that are accessible to radiologist reading images or to administrators trying to maintain efficient contrast use and safety standards.
Medrad's founder, M. Stephen Heilman, MD, an emergency room physician, saw an early coronary arteriogram during the early 1960s and immediately realized the need for better tools to deliver contrast media. He teamed up with Mark Wholey, MD, who had visited Sweden and had trained with some of the pioneers of angiography in the early 1960s as well.
Together, they invented and developed the first flow-controlled angiographic injector in Dr. Heilman’s home outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Heilman-Wholley Injector was commercialized in 1967, and was initially distributed by Picker X-Ray Company and manufactured by the new company, Medrad, Inc.
Since then, the Medrad name has become synonymous with high quality, reliable, and innovative power injection systems. Medrad created the markets for angiography, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance (MR) power injectors, and continues to be the market leader.