s01a.jpg (11193 bytes)The 85th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) served as a microcosm to the trends in today’s imaging world, most of which revolve around the connectivity of imaging devices and related equipment.

The imaging chain metaphor has never been clearer than it is today, as systems gain links and individual connections increase strength. The Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) Year 1 demonstration and symposium set the tone for the event, as vendors and exhibitors demonstrated new connectivity technologies to enhance productivity and improve departmental workflow.

Attendees walked through the IHE demonstration – and the entire show floor – to find vendors working side-by-side with each other to find faster, more efficient solutions for the end-user. "Proprietary" is becoming a forbidden word at RSNA, as more exhibitors than ever connected to the RSNANet as a further testament to the connectivity trend.

Of course, there were some very interesting advancements within the individual imaging modalities, most of which are aimed at improving patient care and throughput, as well as the overall efficiency of the radiology department.

RSNA officials believe the expansion of the connectivity theme at RSNA has no limits – except, perhaps, by the number of hotel rooms the city of Chicago provides.

Medical Imaging Market:
World Revenue Forecasts 1995-2005

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Medical Imaging Market: Percent of
World Revenues by Product Type 2000

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Computed Tomography

photoGE Medical System’s CT/e

Computed tomography (CT) is fighting for its market share of the global medical imaging market. How the battle is going depends on one’s perspective.

Price is always an issue with CT and newer technologies, such as multi-slice CT, are attractive, but expensive options for some healthcare facilities. Growth can be expected to come primarily from large, academic facilities, while mid-range and smaller institutions and clinics will make use of currently installed systems or find comparable images with other modalities.

The 1998 CT market is estimated at approximately $1.8 billion. Forecasts have the modality gradually gaining in strength to $2.23 billion in the next five years.

One bright spot for CT may be the trend among equipment vendors to incorporate CT into multi-modality suites to give healthcare providers more imaging flexibility and capabilities within the same room.

As more manufacturers explore the potential of combined modalities for faster information and improved patient outcomes, Marconi Medical Systems (Highland Heights, Ohio) is among those vendors at the forefront.

Marconi debuted its new LifeFlight CT trauma suite, which combines greater scan speed, real-time radiology and interventional capabilities. The goal is faster, more accurate evaluation and treatment of patients with critical injuries or stroke.

photoMarconi Medical’s LifeFlight trauma suite

LifeFlight combines Marconi’s Mx8000 multi-slice CT scanner — which can acquire up to four spiral slices simultaneously — with its Venue interventional products, such as FACTS, an FDA-approved amorphous silicon flat-panel, real-time fluoroscopy unit, and PinPoint, a frameless stereotactic guide.

LifeFlight carries a list price of approximately $1.5 million. The company has no installations of the suite yet with the Mx8000 as the anchor modality. Approximately 20 Venue suites are installed with Marconi’s PQ5000 or PQ6000 CT scanners.

Among the new CT offerings from GE Medical Systems’ (GEMS of Waukesha, Wis.) is a low-end CT system that carries much of the software features of GEMS’ high-end HiSpeed and LightSpeed lines.

The CT/e is designed with a patented HiLight detector and helical scanning technology. The helical scanning mode allows doctors to acquire a volume of data rather than the previous single-slice views.

“It will fit as a secondary product for many hospitals and a primary product in clinics,” said Bill Radaj, GEMS’ Americas marketing manager for CT.

FDA approval is pending on the CT/e. One unit is installed in China, where the scanner is manufactured. The scanner is marketed as the GE ProSpeed AI in Japan and China.

s01f.jpg (8763 bytes)Philips Medical Systems’ CT Aura

Other features of the scanner include a high-end computer and graphics processor from Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI of Mountain View, Calif.) and GEMS’ SmartTools software to assist in the acquisition, preparation and review of patient images. Radaj said the CT/e will have a price in the $300,000 range.

GEMS also expands its HiSpeed product line with the introduction of two new systems — the HiSpeed ZX/i and the HiSpeed DX/i M.

The HiSpeed ZX/i becomes the proverbial King of the Hill as the top product in the HiSpeed line with a high-performance Solarix 630 metal X-ray tube (6.3 million heat units) and 0.7-second scan capability. The more powerful tube allows for more coverage in a single-slice scan, while the enhanced scanning speed reduces motion artifact and allows for greater image quality. The unit lists for approximately $900,000.

The HiSpeed DX/i M is a mobile system, which includes GEMS’ HiLight detector for enhanced image quality and a high performance computer and graphics processor from SGI. The GE HiSpeed DX/i M also is compatible with various advanced system options, such as SmartView and SmartScore, software for coronary artery calcification scoring.

RSNA ’99 marks the first anniversary of GEMS’ LightSpeed QX/i CT scanner. The company has an installed base of approximately 200 multi-slice QX/is worldwide.

Philips Medical Systems North America (Shelton, Conn.) unveiled its new CT Vision platform, which debuts with the high-end CT Secura and mid-range CT Aura.

Both systems offer identical applications and functionality. The primary difference is their patient throughput capability. CT Secura has a 7.7 MHU (million heat units) tube, while the CT Aura offers either a 3.4 MHU or 2.0 MHU tube.

“With the CT Aura, you’re looking at a site that handles approximately 20 patients per day,” said Janet Collins, Philips’ CT marketing manager. “In terms of functionality and price range, the CT Secura is very appropriate for high-volume hospital settings and academic settings.”

Both units currently are configured for delivery as single-slice CT scanners, but are upgradeable to multi-slice technology.

Workstations capabilities are integrated into the dual-monitor console, eliminating the need for a stand-alone workstation.

CT Secura carries a list price of approximately $1 million, while the CT Aura lists for approximately $700,000, depending on the tube. Deliveries are set to begin early this year.

Multi-slice imaging is available on Toshiba America Medical Systems’ (TAMS of Tustin, Calif.) Aquilion and Asteion CT systems. Aquilion has regulatory clearance; Asteion is a works-in-progress.

The technology features improvements in patient diagnosis and treatment options impacting cardiology, angiography, oncology, trauma care, acute care, surgery and pediatrics.

By acquiring up to eight slices per second with Aquilion, multi-slice imaging is delivering a higher volume of clinical data. This technology makes the system capable of capturing images of the body’s rapidly moving organs, such as the heart and lungs.

With multi-slice imaging, CT capabilities include diagnostic CT angio, interventional procedures, image-guided therapy, and combination studies. CT also can handle new cardiac applications, such as coronary artery calcification scoring.

On the CT side, Shimadzu Medical Systems Inc. (Torrance, Calif.) will start shipping its SCT-6800TXL this month. Don Karle, director sales and marketing for North America, said the SCT-6800TXL is a one-second spiral CT unit with a reconstruction time of three seconds. It comes with a standard 3D package, including CT angiography. The SCT-7800 sub-second CT scanner is a works-in-progress. end.gif (810 bytes)