Flexibility, Variety Are Hallmarks of CR/DR Offerings at RSNA
Product Showcase: Fluke Releases Medical ScopeMeter and Noninvasive kVp Divider Kit

Flexibility, Variety Are Hallmarks of CR/DR Offerings at RSNA

Even if there were nothing else to report, 2006 would be remembered as the year of the universal arm (U-arm), single-plate, digital x-ray configuration—based on the exhibits at RSNA 2006. Responding to cost pressure, most of the major vendors showed flexible new products based on the one-plate U-arm configuration, to lure price-sensitive buyers into the direct-capture digital market.

But plenty more was happening in the CR and DR realm this year: Several vendors showed new detectors, some tweaked software to improve underlying workflow, one supplier showed a hybrid CR/DR product, and many smaller companies pushed into the market with sharply priced new products.

“Anyone who had their buggy tied to the analog horse has to be saying, ?What am I going to do to move from analog to digital?’ ” notes Brian M. Beardslee, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Vidar Systems Corp, Herndon, Va. “So, you have small companies that never participated before bringing products into the market.”

Designed to make the direct-capture digital room more affordable, most vendors showed a single-plate U-arm configuration, a flexible design likely to appeal to imaging centers, emergency departments, and price-sensitive buyers. “It offers all of the flexibility of a dual-detector system in a single detector,” Helen Titus, DR product line manager at Kodak’s Health Group, Rochester, NY, says of the new ceiling-mounted DR 9500 system, shipping at the end of April.

Other new single-plate U-arm models include the following:

  • Flexi-Rad, from CMT Medical Technologies, Valley Stream, NY, features a CR plate that can be upgraded to a DR detector (with the Pixium 4600 flat-panel technology from Trixell, Totowa, NJ) in a U-arm configuration. The system features a workstation that controls everything from the modality—generator, digital panel, dose, bucky, gamma curves—with the same user interface for each technology. The new system will ship this spring.
  • SpeedSuite Unity, from FUJIFILM Medical Systems USA, Stamford, Conn, features the company’s new digital detector in a single-plate, flexible U-arm configuration. The fully motorized system is expected to be available in mid-2007.
  • The XM Series from Imaging Dynamics Co (IDC), Calgary, Alberta, is based on the company’s new CCD detector technology and provides the U-arm configuration with a fixed table.
  • ddR Compact, from Swissray, Elizabeth, NJ, is a single-plate U-arm featuring the company’s new, reformulated CCD detector.
  • The T.Rad Plus, from Toshiba America Medical Systems, Tustin, Calif, uses the portable plate from Canon Medical Systems, Irvine, Calif, and a portable table for maximum flexibility in both on- and off-table imaging. The x-ray generator right on the tube head enables the technologist to easily adjust kVp and mAs without leaving the room.
  • The Vision 3000 and 4000 from Vidar feature a CCD detector (3K and 4K respectively) in a U-arm configuration with a portable table for the full range of general radiography procedures.
Swissray?s ddR Compact incorporates a digital high-definition silicon solid state detector with Micro Lens technology.

“The market looks at the industry, and there are three choices,” notes CMT President Ed Terzi. “CR for flexibility and price; CCD for the same, but the problem is that you can’t get the low dose and high resolution; and DR panels, the high-end, high-resolution choice. DR panels fit the requirements for speed and resolution, but they have higher cost.

“We’ve come up with a solution that addresses [that issue] with a unique combination of CR technology paired with Trixell [DR] plates,” Terzi continues. “It fits a nice niche that some of the OEMs are looking for: Not everyone planning a rad room knows what their growth plans are. What’s nice about this is that you can sell a rad room that can be upgraded to DR.”

New Detectors, Enhanced Software

Vendors also displayed several new detector technologies, broadening the choices for sites seeking lower dose, higher quality, or better price points.

Agfa HealthCare, Greenville, SC, announced the debut of its DX-Si line, which incorporates the company’s new cesium oxide (CsI) bromide-based phosphor plate technology (DirectriX) and its Scanhead slot scanning technology, for a cassetteless DR solution that couples the speed of DR with the cost benefits of CR. The modality currently is rolling out in Europe and is pending FDA clearance in the United States. Agfa also showed an enhanced image-processing software, MUSICA2, which automatically applies the appropriate image-enhancement parameters based on the image acquired, freeing technologist time.

The Pixium Portable 3543 from Thales operates via a Wi-Fi connection and feature a Trixell CsI scintillator.

Canon showed the company’s new EC series of detectors, available in two sizes, based on the amorphous silicon detector technology, but featuring a CsI scintillator technology, “It provides a higher DQE [detective quantum efficiency] than the detector with the gadolinium oxide scintillator,” notes Jose Alvarez, marketing specialist at Canon.

The company also enhanced the software that drives its DR product line, CXDI, which implements the IHE Initiative Schedule Workflow Profile, providing the underlying workflow dynamics to support the speed of the technology. “The efficiency we bring is automatic display of parameters for a requested exam,” notes Elaine Bouchard, product marketing manager, Canon. “For example, when the RIS sends the information to the modality, it sends us the name of the exam, and we match the name with the department protocol so that the front end is as efficient as possible. A fewer number of buttons are pushed. The technologist positions and makes the exposure.”

The Mobilett XP CR from Siemens Medical is a mobile x-ray system with an integrated CR reader that enables bedside imaging.

Fuji took a leap into the digital-capture market with a new solid-state detector, featuring amorphous silicon technology and a cesium bromide scintillator, manufactured by the company. The detector is highlighted in Fuji’s new DR product line that includes the Velocity Ufp, a compact reader for chest and other upright exams that can produce 240 images per hour; it will ship in the first quarter. Also in the DR line is the Velocity Tpf, a table system based on the new detector that will not ship until the second quarter.

IDC introduced a new X-Series detector line, which is based on CCD technology but can be custom-configured to optimize performance for various clinical applications. The new detectors will feature micro lenses and new collateral overflow drain technology, with the intention of increasing dynamic range and quantum efficiency while reducing the potential for pixel saturation.

Swissray also debuted a new CCD detector featuring micro lenses and 16-bit technology to produce more than 65,000 shades of ray.

Finally, Thales Components Corp, Totowa, NJ, announced what it expects to be the world’s first digital wireless detector, the Pixium Portable 3543, measuring 14 x 17 inches, operating via a Wi-Fi connection, and featuring the Trixell CsI scintillator. The detector slots into a docking station that also recharges the battery. The plate incorporates image preprocessing software to generate 7.2 million pixel images with 16-bit dynamics. The panel will ship next year.

Still King

Agfa?s CR 30-X is a compact tabletop CR solution.

With all of the action in the DR segment of the market, it’s easy to forget that CR is still king when it comes to sales volumes. “CR still sells more units,” notes Kodak’s Titus. “It’s a great way for hospitals transitioning from analog to digital to have an entry point.”

While Kodak showed the mobile Z-Cart CR unit that it acquired with the Orex purchase, Siemens Medical Solutions, Malvern, Pa, introduced what it billed as the first mobile x-ray unit with an integrated onboard CR reader. The Mobilett XP CR, which is compact and lightweight, features a head that freely rotates so that it can be in most projections with the patient recumbent, sitting, or standing. The system has a capacity of 60 plates per hour and can be operated from up to 30 feet away via remote control.

Agfa showcased the CR 30-X, a new compact tabletop CR solution, providing a low-cost solution with a small footprint for imaging centers and low-throughput areas of the hospital.

Still, as more lower-priced, flexible DR models move into the market, the competition for CR will heat up in 2007.

—C. Proval

Product Showcase: Fluke Releases Medical ScopeMeter and Noninvasive kVp Divider Kit

The 199XRAY ScopeMeter from Fluke displays kVp waveforms and direct kVp values simultaneously on its screen.

Fluke Releases Medical ScopeMeter and Noninvasive kVp Divider Kit

New from Fluke Biomedical, Cleveland, is the 199XRAY Medical ScopeMeter and 35080M Noninvasive kVp Divider Kit. The combination is designed to streamline x-ray system calibration, quality assurance, corrective maintenance procedure setup, and analysis; the two products are packaged together by Fluke as a kit, which also includes all necessary accessories.

“The 199XRAY Medical ScopeMeter high-performance oscilloscope is ideal for engineers who need the full capabilities of a high-performance oscilloscope in a handheld, battery-powered instrument,” Gary Kaufmann, product manager for Fluke, noted in a press release. “The 35080M Noninvasive kVp Divider can eliminate the need for bulky and heavy high-voltage divider tanks. It?s so compact in size that it fits into a shirt pocket.”

The 199XRAY offers up to 200 MHz in bandwidth, 2.5 GS/s real-time sampling, and a deep memory of 27,500 points per input. It is designed specifically for use with x-ray systems, and it displays kVp waveforms and direct kVp values simultaneously on its screen. Other specs include Connect-and-View automatic triggering; Digital Persistence, for analysis of complex waveforms; a fast display update rate; automatic capture and replay of 100 screens; the TrendPlot paperless recording system for trend analysis up to 22 days; waveform reference for visual comparisons; and a 4-hour, rechargeable NiMH battery pack.

The 35080M quickly measures kVp for all modalities, checking both above and below table tubes and displaying the direct nVp values on the 35050AT Dosimeter, the 199XRAY, or optional Excel Add-in software. It provides accurate readings for the 50-kVp to 150-kVp range; optional filter packs make it adaptable to CT, mammographic, and mobile applications.

Other key features of the 35080M include new miniaturized configuration for easy transportation; fast and easy noninvasive kVp values for calibration and quality assurance; auto on/off when connected or disconnected; Rh/Rh measurement capability when used with Cadmium K-Edge and Linear Mammo Filter Pack Pair; and a convenient storage and carrying case.

The 199XRAY and the 35080M can be purchased as a kit or separately. Visit www.flukebiomedical.com for more information.

—C. Vasko