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Title:
MOBILE COMPUTED RADIOGRAPHY
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2005/053534
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
In one aspect, a mobile computed radiography (CR) unit (100) is provided. The mobile CR unit includes a CR scanner (150) adapted to acquire one or more images from an image recording medium, and a transport mechanism (110) coupled to the CR scanner, the transport mechanism adapted to facilitate transport of the mobile CR apparatus between locations. In another aspect, the mobile CR unit is constructed as a single free-standing integrated device having a frame that couples together the CR scanner, a display (120) adapted to view the one more images acquired by the CR scanner, and a plurality of wheels (110) that allow the mobile CR unit to be transported from one location to another.

Inventors:
Koren, Jacob (Alexander Yanai St. 46, Carmelia, Haifa, 34816, IL)
Application Number:
PCT/US2004/039595
Publication Date:
June 16, 2005
Filing Date:
November 24, 2004
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
Orex, Computed Radiography (2000 Commonwealth Avenue, Suite 200 Auburndale, MA, 02466, US)
Koren, Jacob (Alexander Yanai St. 46, Carmelia, Haifa, 34816, IL)
International Classes:
A61B6/00; G01N23/04; G01T1/105; G03B42/04; G03B42/08; (IPC1-7): A61B6/00; G01T1/29; G03B42/04; G02B27/02
Other References:
PATENT ABSTRACTS OF JAPAN vol. 2003, no. 12, 5 December 2003 (2003-12-05) -& JP 2003 248276 A (KONICA CORP), 5 September 2003 (2003-09-05)
PATENT ABSTRACTS OF JAPAN vol. 008, no. 195 (M-323), 7 September 1984 (1984-09-07) -& JP 59 084637 A (FUJI SHASHIN FILM KK), 16 May 1984 (1984-05-16)
See also references of EP 1686896A2
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Parulski, Susan L. (Eastman Kodak Company, 343 State Street Rochester, NY, 14650-2201, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS
1. A mobile computed radiography (CR) apparatus comprising: a CR scanner adapted to acquire one or more images from an image recording medium; and a transport mechanism coupled to the CR scanner, the transport mechanism adapted to facilitate transport of the mobile CR apparatus between locations.
2. The mobile CR apparatus of claim 1, wherein the transport mechanism includes a plurality of wheels.
3. The mobile CR apparatus of claim 2, further comprising a frame that supports the CR scanner, wherein the plurality of wheels are coupled to the CR scanner via the frame.
4. The mobile CR apparatus of claim 3, wherein the CR scanner is fixedly attached to the frame.
5. The mobile CR apparatus of claim 2, further comprising a display coupled to the frame, the display connected to the CR scanner to display the one or more images acquired by the CR scanner.
6. The mobile CR apparatus of claim 5, further comprising at least one wireless connection adapted to transmit the one more images wirelessly to at least one storage facility.
7. The mobile CR apparatus of claim 6, wherein the wireless connection is adapted to transmit the one or more images via a local area network (LAN) to the at least one storage facility.
8. The mobile CR apparatus of claim 4, wherein the frame includes a first portion specifically adapted for manual engagement by an operator to apply a force to the mobile CR device to actuate the plurality of wheels such that the mobile CR device may be transported.
9. The mobile CR apparatus of claim 8, wherein the first portion comprises at least one grip adapted for the operator to grasp with a hand to apply a force to the mobile CR device to engage the plurality of wheels.
10. The mobile CR apparatus of claim 4, wherein the mobile CR device is arranged such that components are coupled to the frame in a vertical direction from lower to higher in an order of the plurality of wheels, the CR scanner, the first portion and the display.
11. The mobile CR apparatus of claim 1, further comprising at least one holder adapted to store at least one image recording cassette.
12. The mobile CR apparatus of claim 11, wherein the at least one holder is coupled to the CR scanner and is adapted to store a plurality of cassettes.
13. The mobile CR apparatus of claim 1, wherein the mobile CR apparatus is not a physically integrated part of any Xray exposure device.
14. A method of acquiring at least one image at a location proximate to a patient being imaged via a mobile computed radiography (CR) device having a CR scanner adapted to acquire the at least one image from an image recording medium exposed simultaneously with the patient, the mobile CR device adapted to be transportable between different physical locations, the method comprising acts of : transporting the mobile CR device from a first location remote from the patient to a second location proximate the patient ; exposing the patient and the image recording medium to Xray radiation; transferring the exposed image recording medium to the proximately located mobile CR device ; and acquiring one or more images from the image recording medium.
15. The method of claim 14, wherein the act of transporting the mobile CR device includes an act of transporting the mobile CR device from the first location remote from the patient to a room in which the patient is located.
16. The method of claim 14, further comprising an act of transmitting the one or more images to at least one storage medium.
17. The method of claim 16, wherein the act of transmitting the one or more images includes an act of transmitting the one or more images wirelessly from the mobile CR device to the at least one storage medium.
18. The method of claim 17, wherein the act of transmitting the one or more images wirelessly includes an act of connecting the mobile CR device to a local area network via at least one wireless connection.
19. The method of claim 18, wherein the act of transmitting the one or more images wirelessly includes an act of transmitting the one or more images according to WiFi specifications.
20. A mobile computed radiography (CR) unit adapted for transport to obtain at least one image from an image recording medium at a variety of desired physical locations, the mobile CR unit comprising: at least one support structure forming a frame to which components are coupled to form an integrated freestanding unit, the components comprising: a CR scanner adapted to acquire one or more images from an image recording medium; a display connected to the CR scanner such that the one or more images, when acquired, are capable of being viewed on the display; and one or more wheels arranged such that when a force is applied to the mobile CR unit, the mobile CR unit is capable of being rolled from one location to another location.
21. The mobile CR unit of claim 20, wherein the display is connected to the CR scanner via a wireless connection.
22. The mobile CR unit of claim 20, wherein the CR scanner includes one or more communications interfaces adapted to connect wirelessly to one or more networks.
23. The mobile CR unit of claim 20, wherein the frame is configured to have a first portion specifically adapted to allow an operator to apply a force to the mobile CR unit to actuate the plurality of wheels to transport the mobile CR unit to a different location.
24. The mobile CR unit of claim 23, wherein the components are arranged in a vertical direction from lower to higher in an order of the plurality of wheels, the CR scanner, the first portion and the display.
25. The mobile CR unit of claim 24, wherein the CR scanner is integrated into the frame at a relatively low position such that a center of gravity of the mobile CR unit is lower in a vertical direction than half of a total height of the mobile CR unit.
26. The mobile CR unit of claim 24, wherein the first portion is positioned on the frame to allow a standing operator to engage the first portion with the operator's hands without having to bend at the waist.
27. The mobile CR unit of claim 26, wherein the first portion includes at least a pair of hand grips.
Description:
MOBILE COMPUTED RADIOGRAPHY Related Applications This application claims the benefit under 35 U. S. C. ยง 119 (e) of U. S. Provisional Application 60/525,316 filed November 26,2003, entitled"MOBILE COMPUTED RADIOGRAPHY, "by Koren, which is incorporated herein in its entirety.

Background of the Invention Modern medical facilities such as hospitals or emergency care facilities are often large and complex organizations. A medical facility may be organized into various branches or wings that specialize in a particular type of patient care and/or expertise. For example, a medical facility may have a radiology and/or radiography department that handles various medical imaging tasks such as X-ray and MRI for the medical facility. Patients requiring an X-ray, for example, must be transported to the radiology center or department.

Conventional radiography centers (e. g. , as found in radiology departments in medical facilities) may include multiple radiography rooms each equipped with X-ray systems for <BR> <BR> exposing patients and image recording media (e. g. , films, phosphor plates, etc. ) to radiation, so as to acquire X-ray images of the patients for diagnosis, treatment, etc. Often, an exposed image recording medium is loaded into a holder or cassette for transporting the exposed medium from the room with the X-ray exposure system to a central processing center. For example, a cassette holding exposed film typically is hand-carried from the exposure area to a central chemical processing station associated with a main darkroom for developing the exposed film. A cassette holding an exposed phosphor plate typically is hand-carried from the exposure area to, for example, a mainframe CR scanner, which scans the phosphor plate to acquire the image stored thereon. Exemplary CR scanners are described in US Patent No.

6,624, 438 entitled"SCANNING APPARATUS,"by Koren, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.

This general concept of workflow (i. e. , radiation exposure in radiography rooms, and central processing elsewhere) typically dictates the architectural design of the X-ray room layout of a conventional radiography processing center (e. g. , in a medical facility). In particular, in a typical layout, a patient corridor may be located in front of a row of X-ray

exposure rooms, and a staff corridor may be located behind the row of X-ray exposure rooms, thereby enabling separate traffic flows of patients being imaged and technicians carrying the X-ray cassettes to a central processing area (e. g. , main darkroom or a room having a CR scanner).

However, this workflow and organization model results in generally unnecessary traffic, inefficiency and requires significant coordination and organization as described in US.

Application Serial No. 10/447,733 entitled"DISTRIBUTED AND REDUNDANT COMPUTED RADIOGRAPHY SYSTEMS AND METHODS,"by Koren ('733), which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety. The'733 application describes methods and apparatus for providing distributed and redundant CR systems to avoid"bottlenecks"and other inefficiencies in the central processing workflow architectures.

Summary of the Invention One embodiment according to the present invention includes a mobile computed radiography (CR) apparatus comprising a CR scanner adapted to acquire one or more images from an image recording medium, and a transport mechanism coupled to the CR scanner, the transport mechanism adapted to facilitate transport of the mobile CR apparatus between locations. In some embodiments, the mobile means may be one or more wheels coupled to the CR scanner. The one or more wheels may be coupled to the CR scanner via one or more support structures such that actuation of the wheels results in transport of the CR scanner.

Another embodiment according to the present invention includes a method of acquiring at least one image at a location proximate to a patient being imaged via a mobile computed radiography (CR) device having a CR scanner adapted to acquire the at least one image from an image recording medium exposed simultaneously with the patient, the mobile CR device adapted to be transportable between different physical locations, the method comprising acts of transporting the mobile CR device from a first location remote from the patient to a second location proximate the patient, exposing the patient and the image recording medium to X-ray radiation, transferring the exposed image recording medium to the proximately located mobile CR device, and acquiring one or more images from the image recording medium.

Another embodiment according to the present invention includes a mobile computed radiography (CR) unit adapted for transport to obtain at least one image from an image recording medium at a variety of desired physical locations, the mobile CR unit comprising at

least one support structure forming a frame to which components are coupled to form an integrated free-standing unit, the components comprising a CR scanner adapted to acquire one or more images from an image recording medium, a display connected to the CR scanner such that the one or more images, when acquired, are capable of being viewed on the display, and one or more wheels arranged such that when a force is applied to the mobile CR unit, the mobile CR unit is capable of being rolled from one location to another location.

Another embodiment according to the present invention includes a mobile CR unit comprising a support structure capable of securing a CR scanner adapted to acquire one or more images from an image recording medium and mobile means capable of being actuated to transport the mobile CR unit across a surface. The mobile means may be one or more wheels coupled to the support structure. In some embodiments, the support structure is also adapted such that a display may be coupled to the mobile CR unit to display images acquired by the CR scanner. In some embodiments, the mobile CR unit further comprises at least one processor coupled to the display. The at least one processor may be incorporated into the CR scanner, or part of a separate component coupled to the mobile CR unit.

In some embodiments according to the present invention, the at least one processor also may be part of a personal computer (PC) integrated into the CR scanner or separately coupled to the support structure. The PC may include display and/or image acquisition software and may include one or more interfaces that may be displayed on the display. In some embodiments, the mobile CR unit includes one or more peripheral devices such as a mouse or keyboard with which to interact with the display, software and/or at least one processor. In some embodiments, the mobile CR unit further comprises at least one port. The at least one port may be at least one of a network port, a parallel port, a universal serial bus port, a serial port, a wireless port, and a SCSI port. The at least one port may be any combination of the above.

Another embodiment according to the present invention includes a method of acquiring at least one image of a patient including acts of transporting a CR scanner proximate at least one of an X-ray exposure device and the patient via a mobile CR unit including the CR scanner, exposing the patient and an image recording medium to X-ray radiation and scanning the image recording medium to acquire the one or more images, wherein the above acts are enacted in the same general area.

Detailed Description Imaging equipment such as X-ray devices are often large, expensive and relatively immobile. Accordingly, conventional medical facilities include imaging equipment arranged in a generally permanent location, thus requiring a patient to be brought to the equipment.

Such a requirement may result in undo hardship in circumstances when it is difficult or impossible to transport a patient to a designated imaging location.

In particular, patients requiring some form of imaging may be generally immobilized for one reason or another. For example, patients in an intensive care unit (ICU) may be unconscious and connected to various life support equipment required to keep them alive.

Elderly patients may not be easily transported and may be vulnerable to injury during attempts to move them. Accordingly, it is often unreasonable, dangerous or sometimes impossible to transport a patient to locations having the imaging equipment necessary to diagnose, treat or otherwise image a patient. While X-ray exposure equipment has been made mobile to permit generally immobile patients to be exposed, CR image acquisition equipment such as CR scanners or readers have not conventionally been equipped to be brought to the patient and/or X-ray exposure equipment.

In addition, as discussed above, many medical facilities are arranged with radiology or radiography departments built to accommodate the central processing model. Some imaging tasks are rather complex and require multiple exposures, precise positioning of the patient and/or techniques involving multiple imaging modalities. In conventional systems, a patient and phosphor plate may be exposed to radiation in an exposure area and the phosphor plate hand-carried to the nearest CR scanner which may be in another room, another department or another building. The phosphor plate must then be scanned to acquire the image and the radiologist or operator must then observe the image to ensure that the patient was properly placed, or to plan additional exposures in multiple exposure diagnostic treatments.

If the obtained image is not acceptable for some reason (e. g. , misaligned) the operator, personnel and/or the radiologist must return to the exposure area and adjust the patient or the equipment to correct for the misalignment. In multiple exposure tasks, the patient or equipment must be aligned according to the previous acquired image. The patient must then be exposed again and the procedure repeated. This process requires significant coordination between equipment operators, personnel and radiologists who already may be strained for time,

in addition to the additional treatment time for the patient. Arrangements wherein the X-ray exposure equipment and patient and the image acquisition equipment are located remote from one another (e. g. , in separate rooms), are therefore generally inconvenient and inefficient.

Applicant has appreciated that smaller, lighter-weight CR scanners, such as those manufactured by OREXTM Computed Radiography, Inc. (OREX) facilitate implementation of more convenient workflow and imaging models. In particular, Applicant has identified the benefits of and developed a CR model including a mobile CR unit. Applicant has appreciated that a mobile CR unit facilitates imaging of generally immobile patients and further <BR> <BR> streamlines X-ray treatment by enabling the image acquisition equipment (e. g. , CR scanner<BR> and/or display) to be brought proximate the patient and exposure equipment (e. g. , an X-ray device). Various embodiments incorporating aspects of the present invention are described in detail below.

FIG. 1 illustrates a mobile CR unit, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Mobile CR unit 100 includes a CR scanner 150 and wheels 110. The term CR scanner or CR reader refers generally to any device or combination of devices capable of acquiring information from an image recording medium such as a phosphor plate and converting the information into electronic form such as a digital image. In particular, CR scanner refers to any number of laser scanning devices configured to apply a laser to a phosphor plate and detect radiation emitted from the phosphor plate or screen in response to the laser. The detected radiation may then be converted into a digital signal to form an image that can be stored digitally, transmitted electronically and/or viewed directly. For example, the scanning apparatus disclosed in the'438 patent incorporated above are examples of CR scanners. Further exemplary CR scanners include the PcCR" 1417 system manufactured by Orex. It should be appreciated that CR scanner 150 may be any CR scanner in any variety of arrangements and configurations, as the aspects of the invention are not limited to any particular CR scanner.

Wheels 110 are preferably chosen to enable generally simple transport over the surface of the medical facility in which it is located, for example, over a floor, hallway, etc. It should be appreciated that other mobile means or transport mechanisms may be used in place of wheels, such as rollers, anti-friction pads or slides. In general, a mobile CR unit may comprise any component or device configured to facilitate movement and/or transport of the mobile CR unit (i. e., any mechanism that makes the unit sufficiently mobile).

CR scanner 150 and wheels 110 may be coupled to support 115a and/or 115b such that actuation of the wheels 110 results in movement of CR scanner 150. For example, wheels 110 may be connected to a base support 115a. CR scanner 150 may be coupled to base support 115a via side supports 115b. CR scanner 150 and wheels 110 need not be integrally coupled to the support. Any arrangement wherein the CR scanner can be transported by actuating a transport mechanism is considered contemplated. For example, wheels could be directly coupled to the CR scanner without departing from the scope of the invention. The term "coupled"refers generally to any mechanical or electrical relationship or interaction capability, wherein coupled components can influence one another and/or are arranged to cooperate with one another. Coupling does not require, but may include, direct physical contact.

Mobile CR unit 100 also includes a display 120 for viewing images acquired by CR scanner 150. Display 120 may be any standard computer monitor, flat screen display, touch sensitive device, etc. Mobile CR unit 100 may also include a support 125 for the display 120 and/or for various other computer peripheral devices that may be added to the unit as described in more detail in connection with FIG. 4 below. Display 120 may be connected to the CR scanner 150 to receive acquired images in a variety of ways, for example, via a SCSI connections or via a wireless connection.

Support 125 includes grips 130a and 130b to allow an operator or personnel to easily apply force to the mobile CR unit to transport the unit to a desired location. For example, grips 130a and 130b may be made of santoprene or other material to facilitate gripping and relatively simple transport. As described in further detail below, a mobile CR unit preferably includes a portion specifically adapted to provide an operator a generally convenient location to manually <BR> <BR> engage (e. g. , by grabbing, clasping or otherwise handling the portion) the mobile CR unit to transport the unit a desired location. Instead of the grips 130, a bar or other conveniently located portion of the frame of the CR unit may be configured and positioned to allow the operator to conveniently apply force to the CR unit. In some embodiments, the bar, grip or other specifically adapted portion is provided approximately at waist, arm or hand level to make transporting the unit in a fully upright position more convenient so that the unit may be easily walked from one location to another.

CR scanner 150 may include a holder 155 to hold image recording cassettes used to protect and transport image recording media such as phosphor plates as described in further detail in connection with FIGS. 2A and 2B below. Mobile CR unit 100 may be constructed of

any material. For example, the support structure may be constructed of plastic, aluminum, steel, titanium or any combination thereof. The aspects of the invention are not limited to any choice of construction material, or combination of construction material.

Mobile CR unit 100 is designed as an integrated, free-standing unit. In particular, components of the unit (e. g. , CR scanner, display and transport mechanism) are fixedly attached to a generally integrated body or frame that is made mobile and independent from any X-ray exposure equipment. It should be appreciated that mobile CR unit can be easily transported to any of various desired locations. For example, a generally immobile patient requiring one or more imaging procedures may be located in the ICU of a hospital some distance from the radiology department. A mobile X-ray unit may be available that can be transported to the patient or one may be available locally. Accordingly, a mobile CR unit (e. g., mobile CR unit 100) may be transported to the patient or proximate the X-ray exposure equipment such that the immobile patient may be imaged without having to move and possibly injure the patient.

In circumstances where a patient is generally mobile and can be transported to the X- ray exposure equipment, a mobile CR unit can be transported proximate the X-ray exposure equipment, proximate the radiologist or to any convenient location. The ability to position the CR scanner anywhere desired facilitates efficient use of radiologist resources, and provides an effective workflow model. When multiple images and/or precise positioning of equipment is required, mobile CR unit 100 may be wheeled into the same room as the X-ray exposure device. A patient may be exposed and the phosphor plate immediately loaded into the CR scanner of the mobile unit to acquire a digital image for viewing. An operator or radiologist can receive immediate feedback as to whether the patient and/or X-ray exposure equipment was positioned correctly can view the image for diagnostic purposes, or otherwise process the patient and image without the attendant inefficiencies of conventional systems.

FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate another embodiment of a mobile CR unit according to aspects of the present invention. Mobile CR unit 200 may be similar to mobile CR unit 100.

The unit illustrated in FIG. 2A illustrates cassettes 260 stored in a holder 255. FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate a cassette inserted into a loader of CR scanner 250 in a position to be scanned.

CR scanner 250 may have automatic load features as described in U. S. Application Serial No.

10/431,350 entitled"METHODS AND APPARATUS FOR HANDLING IMAGE RECORDING MEDIA,"by Koren which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.

Mobile CR unit 200 also may have space above support 215 in order to place, for example, a personal computer (PC), other components, or anything else to be transported with the device.

FIGS. 3A and 3B illustrate another embodiment of a mobile CR unit according to aspects of the present invention. FIG. 3A illustrates a front view and FIG. 3B illustrates a side view of mobile CR unit 300. Exemplary dimensions are labeled on the device to show one embodiment of the size of a mobile CR unit. However, a mobile CR unit can be constructed having any number of different dimensions and sizes and can be constructed to accommodate CR scanners of various sizes. As shown, the FIG. 4 illustrates another embodiment of a mobile CR unit according to the present invention. Mobile CR unit 400 may be similar to the mobile CR unit described in connection with FIGS. 1-3, but having an alternative design. For example, mobile CR unit 400 includes curved supports 415 having display 420 coupled to an upper portion of the supports. In addition, mobile CR unit 400 includes a tray 425 adapted to support a keyboard 426, mouse 427 and perhaps other computer peripheral devices that may be needed to interface with the display 420 and/or acquisition and display software that may be run on a computer system either separate from or incorporated into CR scanner 450.

It should be appreciated that a mobile CR unit may be equipped with standard interfaces. For example, a mobile CR unit may have one or more Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports, parallel ports, serial ports, SCSI ports, etc. In addition, the mobile CR unit may have a network port such that the unit may be connected to a local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), etc. For example, mobile CR unit may be adapted for connection to the internet to transmit acquired images to remote locations or download images for viewing from other locations.

A network connection may facilitate, for example, remote diagnostics. For example, a <BR> <BR> technician or operator may transport mobile CR unit 400 to a desired location (e. g. , proximate X-ray exposure equipment and/or a generally immobile patient). The technician may expose the patient and immediately acquire an image of the internal structures of the patient. This image may be transmitted over the network to a radiologist who can analyze and/or diagnose the image from a remote location without having to be in the same location as the exposure/acquisition equipment. This may facilitate efficient use of a radiologist's time and may allow expertise to be employed from surrounding or remote areas without having the expertise local to the patient.

In one embodiment, a mobile CR unit includes a wireless, network interface. For example, any of the mobile CR units described herein may include a Wi-Fi interface that allows the mobile CR unit to connect to a Wi-Fi network. Images, diagnostic and patient information may be transmitted over a LAN, the Internet, etc. , and then stored, processed or analyzed independent of whether the CR unit has a physical connection to a network. Wireless connectivity may increase the general mobility of the unit and may facilitate its integration in the imaging model from virtually anywhere. The type of wireless communication is not limited to Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11) or any other wireless protocol. For example, infrared protocols such as Infrared Data Association (IrDA) may be used to implement wireless connectivity.

FIG. 5 illustrates another embodiment of a mobile CR unit according to the present invention. FIG. 5 illustrates some exemplary dimensions for the design illustrated generally in FIG. 4. However, any size and/or dimensions may be used in constructing a mobile CR unit.

In addition, any additional components, electronic devices, apparatus for storage, or members to facilitate transport can be added or arranged alone or in combination on a mobile CR unit.

It should be appreciated that the various constructions in the embodiments described in connection with FIGS. 1-5 have been ergonomically designed to facilitate relatively simply transport and use. For example, the CR scanner has been positioned relatively low on the device near the transport mechanism such that the device has a low center of gravity.

Accordingly, an operator can apply a force to transport mobile CR unit at generally hand/arm <BR> <BR> level (e. g. , by grabbing grips 130a and/or 130b with the hands and pushing or pulling the unit) without having to worry about tipping over the mobile CR unit and having to bend or reach in order to transport the device.

In addition, the various components of the mobile unit have been arranged having easy access. For example, the display is arranged and can be adjusted for easy viewing and the keyboard may be positioned generally at a height that facilitates natural typing postures for a standing operator. The CR scanner may be disposed with a front facing loader such that cassettes may be simply and easily loaded into and taken out of the CR reader. In addition, the cassette holder may positioned such that plates can be easily and conveniently stored without having to reach or without having to move to the back side of the device. Accordingly, embodiments according to the present invention have been designed to facilitate transport and operation according to natural postures of a human operator and to provide simple access to the CR scanner and peripheral devices such that the mobile unit may be used in crowded or

otherwise limited areas. Some embodiments are constructed such that all parts are designed to be fastened to the unit in an integrated fashion to provide a single, specialized mobile unit.

It should be appreciated that various aspects of the present invention may be used alone, in combination, or in a variety of arrangements not specifically discussed in the embodiments described in the foregoing and is therefore not limited in its application to the details and arrangement of components set forth in the foregoing description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or of being carried out in various ways. In particular, various aspects of the present invention may be practiced with any construction that facilitates mobile transport of a CR scanner and/or any other components that facilitate mobile image acquisition, viewing, storage or analysis of radiographic images.

In addition, various aspects of the invention described in one embodiment may be used in combination with other embodiments and is not limited by the arrangements and combinations of features specifically described herein. Various alterations, modifications, and improvements will readily occur to those skilled in the art. Such alterations, modifications, and improvements are intended to be part of this disclosure, and are intended to be within the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the foregoing description and drawings are by way of example only.

Use of ordinal terms such as"first", "second","third", etc. , in the claims to modify a claim element does not by itself connote any priority, precedence, or order of one claim element over another or the temporal order in which acts of a method are performed, but are used merely as labels to distinguish one claim element having a certain name from another element having a same name (but for use of the ordinal term) to distinguish the claim elements.

Also, the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. The use of"including,""comprising,"or"having," "containing","involving", and variations thereof herein, is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof as well as additional items.

What is claimed is: