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Innovative imaging technology significantly improves diagnostics and therapy

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Yesterday, Mainz University Medical Center officially commissioned its photon-counting computed tomography scanner in its Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology. The innovative CT system has two X-ray sources and a novel detector principle. Especially in the clinical areas of cardiac and vascular imaging as well as in oncology, it enables much more accurate and gentle diagnostics as well as safer therapy decisions. In addition, the photon-counting computed tomograph improves the basis for research and the translation of its results.

Today, the University Medical Center Mainz commissioned the currently most innovative computed tomograph in its Clinic for Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology in the presence of the Rhineland-Palatinate Minister of Health, Clemens Hoch. It is a dual-source device with two X-ray sources and a novel detector principle. The new computer tomograph enables much more precise and gentle diagnostics. Especially in the clinical areas of cardiovascular imaging and oncology, the implications are far-reaching.

The Minister of Science and Health of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate, Clemens Hoch, emphasizes: “This state-of-the-art computer tomograph strengthens our university medicine both in patient care and in research. It will not only benefit the patients of the Mainz University Medical Center in the years to come. It will also help researchers with innovative imaging to further advance medical development and thus contribute to the improvement of care far beyond Mainz. This combination of excellent care and research is the central idea of university medicine and the very special strength of our medical science location in Mainz.”

Computed tomography (CT) is one of the most important procedures for obtaining images of the inside of the human body. The three-dimensional images show subtle differences or changes in organs, vessels and bones and help to detect diseases or injuries. About fifty years ago, computed tomography made its way into medical diagnostics. Now, an innovative technology is available that ushers in a new era: a CT device with two rotating X-ray sources and a novel detector principle.

“The photon-counting computed tomograph is currently the most innovative CT device. It was nominated for the German Future Prize 2021 of the Federal President and was included by the jury in the ‘circle of the best’ of the German Future Prize. This demonstrates the high level of scientific and technical innovation of the CT scanner as well as the potential to translate this performance into modern medical diagnostics. Mainz University Medical Center is home to one of the world’s first devices. We are certain that this award-winning device will make Mainz University Medical Center even more attractive as a place of cutting-edge medicine for patients and physicians alike.”

– Univ.-Prof. Dr. Norbert Pfeiffer, Chairman of the Board and Medical Director

With the new detector technology, individual X-ray photons and their energy levels are registered directly and without a detour, unlike in the past. This results in significantly improved spatial resolution and the possibility of analyzing tissue in a more differentiated manner. The new “Naeotom Alpha” computer tomograph is also gentler on patients, as it can work with up to 45 percent less radiation. To date, there are only about twenty of these photon-counting computer tomographs in use worldwide.

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ulrich Förstermann, Scientific Director of Mainz University Medical Center, adds: “The CT system not only puts medical diagnoses and therapy decisions on a safer and more reliable footing, but also improves the basis for research and the translation of its results.”

PD Dr. Christian Elsner, Chief Commercial Officer of the University Medical Center Mainz, is pleased with the innovation boost that the device represents for university medicine: “Medicine thrives on innovation. That’s why it’s especially important for university institutions like ours to invest in it.”

“The detectors of the previous CT machines bundle the X-ray photons of different energy levels in the package and convert the signal into flashes of light – this takes more time and provides fewer and less precise insights into the human body. With the new CT scanner and its highly innovative technology, radiology at Mainz University Medical Center is now playing in the Champions League of medical imaging,” explains Prof. Dr. Christoph Düber, Director of the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology at Mainz University Medical Center.

The manufacturing company Siemens Healthineers presented the photon-counting computed tomograph “Naeotom Alpha” to the world public for the first time in November 2021 at the North American Radiology Congress (RSNA). The company has a decades-long tradition of research and development in imaging with the University Medical Center Mainz.

 

 

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Reduced CO2 emissions through “Green Car Policy”

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Responsible and sustainable action is firmly anchored in the WAGO Group’s corporate strategy. The company’s connection and automation technology is an important component of the infrastructure necessary to advance digitalization and energy efficiency, and thus contribute to global challenges such as decarbonization. The company wants to fulfill this responsibility together with customers and partners, but also within the company. Therefore, we have decided to consistently convert our vehicle fleet to alternative drives.

With a “Green Car Policy”, no pure gasoline or diesel engines will be permitted in the future. The medium-term goal is to purchase only zero-emission vehicles by 2025. By the end of this year, plug-in hybrids and electric cars will already account for 40% of the total fleet. The company’s pool vehicles, which are available for business trips at the German plants in Minden and Sonderhausen (Thuringia), will already be 80% electrified. In perspective, further concepts for sustainable mobility are to be incorporated into the policy.

“The consistent conversion of our vehicle fleet is a further step for us to make the energy transition possible together. If you want to act sustainably in the long term, you have to look at all aspects of your business. Here we can make a further contribution to saving CO2 for our company and achieve results quickly.”

– Axel Börner, Chief Financial Officer

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Innovative tooth brushing robot

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In principle, teeth and gums can also be perfectly cared for with a normal toothbrush. However, dentists repeatedly find that most people find it easier to achieve good results with electric assistance, and are therefore increasingly advising electric brushes. TÜV SÜD product expert Andrea Mertl explains what consumers should look out for and how products are tested on the German market.

The figures speak for themselves: three quarters of all dentists in Germany are convinced that correct brushing is easier with an electric toothbrush; one in three even believes they can tell from their patients’ dentition whether they are using an electric brush or not. Today, around 40 percent of all people over the age of 14 in this country already use an electric toothbrush. Since this brushing method has long been taken for granted even by more and more kindergarten children, the market share will continue to grow significantly in the coming years. In addition, many electric fans from the very beginning are switching to new models. Here, it is not only product improvements in terms of program selection or battery charging capacities that are enticing – those who still use a retro model with an electric cord or battery operation should switch for safety or environmental reasons. New features such as a smartphone app that documents cleaning time and quality or recognizes which areas are being neglected via a connection to the camera also encourage new purchases.

Andrea Mertl is responsible for testing electric toothbrushes at TÜV SÜD: “Many manufacturers advertise that their products provide good brushing performance. With our tests, we check this on the basis of various aspects and ensure that the electric toothbrushes also clean gently, are user-friendly to use and comply with the specifications regarding safety and environmental protection.”

Innovative toothbrushing robot

An extensive test scenario has been defined for these reviews. A specially developed brushing robot has already been in use since 2017, simulating brushing performance on black-colored artificial dentures. A white paste represents plaque and impurities to be removed from the tested models. How well this is achieved is analyzed by software, which assigns scores for the criteria of interdental spaces, tooth necks, smooth surfaces and overall surface area during its evaluation. After these automated tests and, of course, a thorough safety check in which, for example, the cord and charging station are also closely examined, human test subjects of all ages come into play. They test several products from different manufacturers with different product features and from different price ranges. Only after this elaborate procedure does the company award its test seal.

Rotary model or sonic toothbrush

Basically, electric toothbrushes are based on two different technologies. Rotary models and sonic toothbrushes are still on the market, and within these groups there are of course differences in terms of functionality. Very good results can be achieved with both variants: Rotary brushes have a small, rotating round brush head that works on each tooth individually. The brushes brush with an alternating left-right movement – a semi-circular rotation of the brush head.

Sonic toothbrushes usually have larger, oval brush heads and clean a larger area at once. Nevertheless, the brushes do not clean with sound, but with vibrations that occur at a very high frequency. Meanwhile, the integrated transducers generate sound waves between 250 and 300 hertz that drive the brush head. This creates a buzzing sound, which originally gave this type of toothbrush its name. Since less pressure is required with this system, gentle cleaning is even easier and interdental spaces are also better reached, more and more users are giving preference to sonic brushes.

Special form of sonic brush: ultrasonic toothbrushes

Still relatively new on the market are ultrasonic toothbrushes, which use a special toothpaste and send tiny microbubbles into the deepest crevices of the teeth at up to 96 million vibrations per minute to loosen plaque and bacteria. While the results achieved are excellent, optimal cleaning takes significantly longer than with other systems. Moreover, at the moment this technology is still exclusively represented in the upper price segment and is mainly recommended for people with gum problems, braces or bridges.

“Whether a toothbrush with smartphone connectivity is really necessary is up to each buyer to decide. However, our experience shows that electric toothbrushes generally make good oral hygiene much easier. In any case, we advise to go for tested safety and to pay attention to the corresponding labeling when buying.”  

– Andrea Mertl

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More space in the control cabinet thanks to compact controller family

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Now B&R is launching a new compact controller family called X20 Embedded. The devices combine performance and numerous integrated interfaces in a housing just 55 mm wide. This makes the controllers half the size of comparable devices.

Thanks to the powerful processors from the Intel Atom series, the new controllers are also suitable for demanding applications with short cycle times. The devices can even be used to control fully-fledged robot applications. Machine builders thus save costs and space in the control cabinet.

The controllers come standard with two USB ports, integrated flash memory and two Ethernet ports. Daisy-chain cabling can be easily implemented with the integrated switch. Therefore, there are no additional costs for the network infrastructure.

Integrated interfaces

Hardware interfaces for POWERLINK and RS485 are also integrated in the devices. Via the RS485 interface, the user can, for example, connect frequency converters directly to the controller without any additional hardware. The power supply is also integrated. Despite the high performance, the controllers do not require a fan or battery and are therefore maintenance-free.

Optionally, any other fieldbus protocols can be added. For this purpose, the controllers are optionally available with an interface slot. All B&R interface cards can be combined with devices from the X20 embedded series. Likewise, all X20 I/O modules can be added to the controller as usual. 

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