Breakthrough in X-ray Technology: From Concept to Global Medical Standard

Newly standardized dual-energy X-ray technology pioneered at the University of Waterloo offers deeper, clearer medical imaging and promises improved global health care outcomes.

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Key Points

  • A new international standard, IEC 62220-2-1: 2023, enhances the capabilities of X-ray technology, allowing for deeper and clearer medical imaging.

  • The innovation, led by Karim S. Karim of the University of Waterloo, involves a portable, dual-energy X-ray screen, enabling the early detection and treatment of diseases at a lower cost.

Revolutionizing Medical Imaging with New X-ray Standard

Detecting deadly tumors at their earliest stages is crucial for effective treatment. The development of innovative medical solutions, however, hinges on their global acceptance and standardization among medical professionals. The new IEC 62220-2-1: 2023 standard for digital X-ray imaging devices, developed by an international team led by Karim S. Karim, Associate Vice-President of Commercialization and Entrepreneurship at the University of Waterloo, marks a significant advancement in medical imaging technology.

This new standard is built upon pioneering radiographic imaging technology from Waterloo. Karim created a portable, dual-energy X-ray screen that can be attached to existing X-ray machines. This enhancement allows these machines to differentiate between soft tissue and bone, a capability previously limited to CT scans. The commercialization of this technology through Karim's startup, KA Imaging, not only facilitates early disease detection but also reduces the overall cost of medical imaging.

The Journey to Standardization

The creation of a global standard is a complex process that involves achieving consensus among a diverse group of stakeholders. Karim describes it as a 'political exercise in democracy,' requiring the majority of the world to agree on the new technology.

The International Electrical Commission (IEC) sets global standards for medical devices. Karim's team initially proposed the new standard to representatives from 150 countries, receiving unanimous approval from the 28 that responded. Following this, Karim led a group of international technical experts through years of meetings and negotiations to define the technical specifications of the standard. Ultimately, they achieved unanimous approval, setting the stage for improved health care outcomes worldwide by enabling earlier detection and treatment of diseases, potentially saving many lives.


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