Radiology: at the heart of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic

Today, more than ever, hospitals are operating day to day, and the number of patients is continuing to escalate due to the current pandemic. The crisis poses significant challenges to hospitals, which find themselves in a race against the clock to find both beds and equipment. Radiology systems that provide high-quality clinical images are key tools for early diagnosis, and are pivotal in facing these challenges and in the battle being waged.

For the past several months, hospitals and medical staff have had to mobilise in the fight against the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, which has affected millions of people and continues to claim many victims worldwide.

In the ongoing battle being fought by hospital services, radiology systems are essential, because Covid-19 can affect not only the lungs, but also other vital organs.

Sensors built into manufacturers’ radiographic tables and into mobile radiography systems make it possible to produce high-quality x-ray images, and help in the screening and observation of patients, as well as the analysis and evolution of lung damage.

“Medical practitioners can thus assess and monitor the condition of patients with Covid-19, whether in the radiology suite or directly in their hospital room, thanks to our mobile systems, which can be deployed and disinfected much quicker than permanent radiology rooms,” says Jean-Loïc Mourrain, CEO of Trixell, a joint venture founded in 1997 by Thales, Philips Healthcare and Siemens Healthineers.

Mobile radiography systems also avoid patients having to be moved around, as well as limiting their potential contact with others. These solutions allow x-rays to be done at the patient’s bedside, generating clinical images of the highest quality.

For more than 60 years, Thales has been supplying medical imaging subsystems that comprise the Pixium® digital sensors, developed by Trixell, and software solutions that allow healthcare professionals to obtain clinical images. Today, 50% of x-ray examinations performed worldwide are done so using Thales solutions.

The implementation of very strict safety measures have made it possible to greenlight the decision to maintain critical activities at the Moirans facility in south-eastern France, such as the production and delivery of detectors, for the strategic purpose of combating the coronavirus. In addition, support activities essential to production continue on site or through telecommuting.

Fully mobilised

Xavier Caillouet, VP of Thales’s Radiology activity, explains the importance of production continuity: "At the request of our partners and our customers around the world who meet the needs of hospitals, healthcare professionals and patients, we are contributing to the collective effort to fight the pandemic, thanks to the unfailing commitment of our employees. Our priority is to enable our employees on site to work in the best possible conditions. To do this, we are making every effort to apply and respect health and distancing measures."

The site has now been organised into five distinct teams ensuring 24/7 operations, while simultaneously limiting the number of people present at any given time. To meet ever-increasing demands in this period of crisis, both employees from other departments and temporary staff have been brought in as reinforcements, thus allowing production to be escalated in line with current needs.

For its part CMT Medical, Thales’s software development entity in Israel, is currently operating at high capacity to help meet the increased demand for portable radiography devices. Since the crisis began, a number of systems have already been installed in hospitals to meet patient screening needs. 

More than 3.5 million people have been infected since the start of the pandemic, and 250,000 deaths recorded as of 6 May, according to data compiled by the website Our World in Data.