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The theme for computed tomography (CT) at RSNA 2000 is faster acquisition of more and more data through multislice technology. The more slices, the sharper the images. The hurdle is getting the computing technology up-to-speed to accomplish what the vendors now have on the drawing board or in long-range development.

Marconi Medical Systems is expanding the capabilities of its Mx8000 premium multislice scanner. The Mx8000 now can be configured as a dual-slice system or 16-slice scanner with Marconi’s new Infinite Detector technology (IDT).

“We think it is an exponential leap in performance,” said William Kulp, Marconi’s manager of CT marketing.

When installed on the Mx8000 CT scanner, the first-generation Infinite Detector system will be able to acquire 16 simultaneous slices with sub-millimeter isotropic accuracy. Tact technology — an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chip — is the key to IDT. Tact transfers data from the detector array at a gigabit-per-second rate. It directly converts the detector signal to a digital stream and virtually eliminates noise from conventional analog electronics, lowering dose requirements and improving image quality.

All two- and four-slice systems can be upgraded to IDT when it is available. Kulp anticipates that IDT will be available in approximately 18 months.

Philips Medical Systems is mulling the near-term market and long-range technological possibilities.

With the help of multislice capabilities on its high-end Secura, Philips is looking to the horizon to develop a multiarray platform that will allow for the full utilization of all 16 channels.

“It is four channels at the moment, but we have taken measures in the system that will allow for full utilization of 16 channels within the next three years,” said Gerry Winkels, Philips’ CT global marketing director. “The key to that is what we call TrueView.”

TrueView’s cone beam reconstruction technology is designed to allow for diagnosis from CT images generated from a complete 3D volume of data. With TrueView, the volume, rather than multiple slices, is the starting point for acquisition, reconstruction, processing and assessment.

GE Medical Systems has added LightSpeed Plus to its lineup. The CT scanner offers additional patient comforts and performance features. Variable scan speeds from 0.5 seconds to 1.0 second help facilitate conventional exams, as well as cardiac imaging to synchronize scan times to cardiac rhythm.

LightSpeed Plus also features SmartScore Pro software, which measures calcification deposits in coronary arteries.

Bill Radaj, Americas marketing manager for CT, said GEMS will continue to market its LightSpeed QX/i CT scanner with the LightSpeed Plus. The price point for the QX/i is $1 million and $1.3 million for the LightSpeed Plus.

GE HiSpeed NX/i multislice CT scannerGE HiSpeed NX/i multislice CT scanner

GEMS’ HiSpeed NX/i also made its first RSNA appearance. The multislice CT scanner allows clinicians to acquire two thin slices simultaneously in the same time it takes for a conventional single-slice scanner. Owners of GEMS HiSpeed can upgrade to the NX/i by adapting the detectors. HiSpeed NX/i’s SmartmA software adjusts X-rays automatically based on the anatomy being scanned to reduce patient dose and total scan time.

Siemens Medical Systems Inc. (Iselin, N.J.) has added the Somatom Smile to its product portfolio. The CT scanner is designed specifically for the low-end market, engineered with 11 components, all of which can be replaced by the customer. The Smile is available over the Internet only, as Siemens promotes the Smile with a “one-price-fits-all” marketing approach. The price range for the one-configuration system with printer is $245,000.

Siemens also unveiled enhancements to its Emotion CT scanner. The Duo-option gives the system multislice capability for applications requiring high-speed scanning, low-volume coverage and high resolution.

At the top of the product line, Siemens introduced the concept of 32-slice per-second technology — dubbed X32 — as the next step in CT’s evolution. The upgrade would quadruple Volume Zoom’s current eight-slice per-second imaging capability. Siemens expects to have an official statement on delivery time of X32 in the first half of 2002.

Imatron Inc. (So. San Francisco) showcased a new application for its electron beam computed tomography (EBCT) scanner. CEO S. Lewis Meyer says that because the scanner is priced above many CT scanners, the company’s strategy is to deliver a spectrum of applications that address frequently occurring diseases where early intervention is important.

At this year’s RSNA, Imatron featured the cardiac application for its EBCT system. Cleared by the FDA in November 1999, electron beam angiography offers a rapid, minimally invasive contrast evaluation of cardiac vessels. Using this ECG-gated imaging technique, physicians are able to monitor the patency of bypass grafts or stent placement.

“There are two pieces of anatomy where scan speed makes a huge difference: the heart and the lung,” said Meyer. The company expects to develop additional applications to evaluate early stage lung cancer.

Currently, Imatron has installed 150 EBCT scanners worldwide with approximately 80 in the United States. Meyer said there is growing demand for scanners in preventive health centers.

“Imatron is positioning our technology to address early detection in conditions where early intervention means something,” said Meyer.

New developments — in software applications and strategy — dominated Toshiba’s CT presentation.

Some new procedures for the top-of-the-line Aquilion CT include improved coronary CT angiography (CTA). With the addition of retrospective gating, the Aquilion constructs cardiac images using slices acquired only during the diastolic phase, minimizing motion artifact and improving image quality. Also, with refined multislice fluoroscopy, Aquilion’s CT fluoroscopy mode delivers 24 frames per second, or triple the previous refresh rate.

Toshiba also is touting Aquilion for more effective stroke management. Shown as a works-in-progress was a new package to measure cerebral blood perfusion (CBP) helps clinicians identify cerebral blockages.

Toshiba also is looking to put multislice CT in more imaging facilities and is counting on its new Asteion line of multislice CT scanners to achieve that goal.

Designed as a family of sub-second scanners that perform 0.75-second full-rotation scans and deliver simultaneous four-slice scanning ranging from 0.5 mm to 8 mm thickness, the Asteion comes in four variations. The MS 60 is a works-in-progress in clinical evaluations with a 60 kilowatt (kW) generator and a 6.5 million heat units (mHU) X-ray tube. The Multi 48, the original Asteion, has a 40 kW generator and a 4.0 mHU tube. The Multi 36 is a new system with a 36 kW generator and a 4.0 mHU tube.

The Asteion Dual, a works-in-progress, is a mid-tier CT system designed to deliver dual-slice scanning capabilities. end.gif (810 bytes)