Philips Medical Donates 50 Ultrasound Systems to Underserved Markets
Running the Numbers
Companies Partner to Provide MicroMarker Imaging Kits
Site Sighting
GE Healthcare and St Jude Medical Announce Research Collaboration

Philips Medical Donates 50 Ultrasound Systems to Underserved Markets

Philips Medical donated 25 HDI 5000 general imaging systems and 25 Sonos 7500 echo systems, with the first HDI 5000 system (above) going to Seoul City General Hospital.

Philips Medical Systems (Andover, Mass) recently announced its donation of 50 ultrasound systems, valued at $2.6 million, to the Global Ultrasound Equipment Donation Foundation (GUEDF), a not-for-profit organization providing ultrasound equipment and training to clinics, hospitals, and teaching facilities in developing nations. Since its inception in 2003, GUEDF has provided more than 200 ultrasound systems to hospitals and clinics in 25-plus countries.

“Millions of people around the world do not have access to even the most basic ultrasound technology,” said Barry B. Goldberg, MD, president of GUEDF, and director of the division of ultrasound and radiologic imaging, and professor of radiology at Thomas Jefferson University Medical School and Hospital (Philadelphia). “The donation of advanced systems will help adults, children, and newborns survive medical conditions that otherwise might have been fatal.”

The Dow Jones Sustainability Index, which analyzes a company’s response to social and environmental responsibility, has recognized Philips Medical as the top company in its market sector for 2 years running. “In addition to this large donation, we also regularly evaluate individual requests for systems,” said James Hutchins, corporate contributions manager for Philips Ultrasound. “In just the past year, we have donated systems to organizations providing health care to underserved populations in Africa, Southeast Asia, Central America, and here in the United States.”

Byung-Ook You, MD, president of Seoul City General Hospital?s East Branch (left), and Barry B. Goldberg, MD, president of the Global Ultrasound Equipment Donation Foundation (right), sign the official transfer of the HDI 5000 system to the hospital for use on patients who cannot afford health care.

Philips Medical recently donated an OptiGo portable ultrasound machine to the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambar?n?, Gabon, at the behest of Benjamin Gilmer, a fourth-year medical student at East Carolina University.

“I joined the internal medicine team [at Schweitzer] to examine a pregnant patient who had presented a month earlier with an unusual pregnancy that could not be easily explained, mostly due to the shortcomings of their old ultrasound machine,” Gilmer wrote in a letter to the company. “After examining her today, we could see more clearly that she had a grave problem.

“Ten minutes later,” he continued, “I found myself in the operating room performing a quick ultrasound with our new unit from Philips…We knew immediately that the 20-week fetus would have to be removed in order to save the mother’s life. It was a very intense moment for all of us who participated in this tragic event. It is humbling when you imagine that a simple endovaginal ultrasound probe could have allowed the mother to safely abort the fetus months earlier. ? Our efforts to spread both our material and intellectual gifts with these countries translate into opportunities that save lives and foster growth so that one day, they will not need our help.”

Philips Medical’s most recent donation includes 25 Sonos 7500 echo systems and 25 HDI 5000 general imaging systems; GUEDF will evaluate requests for these systems and prepare them for delivery to their recipients. The first system from this donation, an HDI 5000, will go to Seoul City General Hospital in South Korea; it will enable OB/GYN, breast, vascular, abdominal, and adult cardiology imaging.

—C. Vasko

Running the Numbers

65 locations across the country continue to provide 3D and 4D “keepsake” ultrasounds of fetuses for pregnant patients despite warnings from the FDA, the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM), and the American College of Radiology. These providers include Clearview Ultrasound (50), Fetal Fotos USA (9), First Look Sonogram (3), Baby Insight (1), Geddes Keepsake (1), and MotherCare (1). This number* is not comprehensive of the number of facilities that offer this service, and it grows every month. The AIUM created a Keepsake Ultrasound Task Force to address this issue, and it “advocates the responsible use of diagnostic ultrasound for all fetal imaging.” The Task Force has released an official statement noting that only images or video clips given to parents during the course of a medically indicated ultrasound examination are “consistent with the ethical principles of our professional organizations.”
* Total based on a July 20, 2006, search.

Companies Partner to Provide MicroMarker Imaging Kits

MicroMarker contrast agents, in conjunction with VisualSonics? Vevo 770 (left), will enable a full range of research applications.

VisualSonics Inc (Toronto) and Bracco Group (Geneva) recently announced their exclusive agreement to jointly develop and manufacture MicroMarker contrast agents. Based on proprietary technology at Bracco Research SA, MicroMarker agents will be designed for preclinical molecular imaging on VisualSonics’ Vevo 770 microultrasound platform. The Vevo 770 is used for genetic research, phenotypic study, and drug development.

“With the addition of contrast-enhanced molecular imaging capabilities to microultrasound technology, VisualSonics/Bracco offer the only platform with high spatial and temporal resolution that simultaneously provides anatomical, functional, and molecular data,” said Michael Schneider, MD, director of Bracco Research SA.

The collaboration between the two companies is intended to produce a complete range of kits and protocols for a variety of biomarkers and research applications, including cancer and cardiovascular applications.

The expression (green) of angiogenic biomarker (VEGFR2) is shown in a mouse model of cancer using a targeted contrast agent and the Vevo 770 system.

“By providing high-quality application-specific ?kits,’ VisualSonics and Bracco are in an ideal position to penetrate the $500 million incremental annual market potential in preclinical contrast-agent revenues,” said VisualSonics CEO Tom Little. “By partnering with Bracco, we are able to leverage their expertise in manufacturing contrast-agent kits and quickly provide a variety of application-specific kits and protocols optimized for our customers’ specific research and drug-discovery and development needs.”

Site Sighting

Sonora Medical Systems (Longmont, Colo) has launched a Web site dedicated to its ultrasound testing device, The Nickel. The site addresses user needs by providing how-to videos that visually explain ways to use The Nickel, frequently asked questions, case studies, and technical information about the product. The Nickel is a handheld device that allows physicians, sonographers, and biomedical engineers to complete instant point-of-care testing on ultrasound systems and probes. Designed to identify flaws within the ultrasound probe, The Nickel also sends a test signal through the probe, which will be displayed on the ultrasound-system monitor if the unit is functioning as it should.

GE Healthcare and St Jude Medical Announce Research Collaboration

GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wis) and St Jude Medical (St Paul, Minn) recently announced a collaboration agreement to develop a new cardiovascular ultrasound imaging system with fully integrated intracardiac echocardiography (ICE) imaging capabilities.

The new system will be used to treat patients suffering from heart rhythm disease, a dysfunction in the electrical workings of a patient’s heart; these disorders affect more than 8 million people worldwide. The irregular electric pulses that characterize the family of conditions interfere with the heart’s ability to beat normally and pump blood efficiently, and they can lead to heart muscle damage or stroke. In atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common form of heart rhythm disease, a rapid and irregular heartbeat results when the atria quivers instead of pumping correctly. More than 380,000 new cases of AF will be diagnosed this year. Existing therapies, such as medications, cause significant side effects in many patients, and ablation—a more effective alternative—is often indicated but not performed because of its complexity and lengthy procedure time.

The collaboration between GE Healthcare and St Jude is intended to improve cardiac imaging techniques, and its ultimate aim is to render ablation more efficient and, thus, more accessible to patients. “Atrial fibrillation is one of the largest unmet clinical needs in cardiovascular medicine today,” said Peter Chen, MD, president of St Jude Medical’s Irvine Biomedical Inc business, which is developing the product. “By working with GE Healthcare, we are enhancing our ongoing efforts to improve treatment options for AF patients and their physicians.”

GE Healthcare’s ultrasound technology will be integrated with St Jude’s catheter technology to provide physicians with real-time ultrasound imaging of the heart. “We are excited about bringing together the expertise from two innovative companies to enable effective, minimally invasive therapies,” said Laura King, global vice president of interventional, cardiology, and surgery at GE Healthcare. The unification of the two technologies is expected to reveal cardiac structures and blood flow in great detail, facilitating faster, more successful procedures.

“These new visualization tools are like having eyes inside the patient’s heart, without actually having to open the chest,” said Laurence M. Epstein, MD, a member of GE Healthcare’s medical advisory board and chief of the cardiac arrhythmia service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston), which will be the beta site for the first GE Healthcare?St Jude Medical integrated product. “The development of ICE technology has changed how we approach ablation procedures. We can visualize, in real time, the actual anatomic structures that we are targeting.”