Our technology correspondent reports on new technology from Sonosite, Inc., Siemens Women's Health Division, eMed Technologies, and STS Biopolymers, Inc. Also covered on recent alliances between GE Medical Systems and Genometrix, Inc. and GE Medical Systems and EchoTech 3D Imaging Systems.
SonoSite, Inc. (Bothell, WA) recently unveiled its next
generation hand-carried ultrasound systems, the all-digital
SonoSite 180PLUS and SonoHeart PLUS systems.
Miniaturized ASIC designs allow the 5.4-lb systems to
incorporate features previously found only on cart-based ultrasound
systems. The new features include Pulsed Wave (PW) Doppler that
provides assessment of blood flow speed and volume. The new Tissue
Harmonic Imaging (THI) function provides crisper images with
improved tissue differentiation, finer dot size, and a smoother
appearance. M-mode provides a high-resolution assessment of the
size and function of moving structures, such as heart valves or
chambers. ECG capability allows visualization of cardiac electrical
activity synchronized with real-time imaging. PC Direct
Connectivity enables transfer of stored images directly from the
system to a PC.
These small systems can be used in a variety of venues from
critical cardiac care centers and small general practices to remote
locations and emergency transport vehicles. "As an obstetrician,"
said Greggory R. DeVore, MD, of the Fetal Diagnostic Center of
Pasadena, California, "I rely on ultrasound to help me perform
fast, accurate evaluations of fetal position and viability every
day. These include evaluations at a number of different
locations--labor and delivery, in a patient's hospital room, or
even in the home."
Siemens Receives Clearance for Diagnostic Spot Imaging
The FDA recently granted Siemens Medical Systems, Inc., (Iselin,
NJ) approval for the Opdima Digital Spot Imaging system for
diagnostic spot imaging of the breast. The system, which is used
with the Siemens MAMMOMAT 3000 Nova mammography system, can be used
to make primary diagnosis of masses or calcifications.
"The Opdima is now the only digital spot imaging system
currently cleared for diagnostic use in the visualization of breast
cancer," said Joanne Scott-Santos, the women's health manager at
"The Opdima plays an important role in the diagnosis of breast
cancer at our facility, because of the speed of image acquisition,
superb image quality, and user-friendliness of the system," says
Dr. Ellen Shaw de Paredes, chief of Breast Imaging for the Virginia
Commonwealth University Health Systems Medical College of Virginia
Hospital, and a member of the editorial board of this journal.Dr.
de Paredes has been using the system since it was introduced in
1998. "This digital spot system provides very detailed images and
can illustrate the density of soft tissue as well as the edges of
microcalcifications, which are extremely important when assessing
breast tissue for early signs of cancer."
The Opdima offers a resolution of up to 20 line pairs per
millimeter, as well as a digital spot field of view of 49 * 85 mm.
Images can be displayed in near real-time, and, once acquired, can
be manipulated on screen to bring out an area of interest, through
sharpening, inverting between negative or positive view, adjusting
contrast, or magnifying the image.
In other news from Siemens, a prostate cancer patient in St.
Cloud, France, has become the first patient clinically treated with
the new Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) treatment
process. With this process, complex radiation doses can be
delivered to tumors while protecting surrounding healthy tissue and
vital organs. This particular patient received a 7-field,
62-segment treatment in less than a 30-minute time slot, including
patient set-up time, using a PRIMUS Linear Accelerator by Siemens
Medical Solutions (Erlangen, Germany).
The IMRT delivery process includes the PRIMUS linear
accelerator, the SIMTEC Delivery System, and the new version of the
Virtual Treatment Interface, from the French company, TFM
Consultants. It incorporates an automatic sequential delivery
process, which provides concentrated doses of radiation, shorter
treatment times, and the ability to verify the technique step by
eMed Technologies Announces Wide-Area PACS
eMed Technologies (Lexington, MA) recently released version
5.1.1 of their Ideal Image Management (I.M.) system. This new
version features eMed Ideal WIDE Access that permits LAN-like
performance over low bandwidth wide-area network (WAN) circuits,
including the Internet.
Version 5.1.1 offers an On-Demand picture archiving and
communications system (PACS) architecture that allows for instant
access to all studies from any workstation in the enterprise or
from remote locations. Local and remote users are able to access a
centralized study list, with immediate access to prior studies and
"When you consider the workflow reality of most busy radiology
groups, radiology services must span beyond hospital walls," noted
eMed CEO Caren Mason. "Radiology staffing shortages are reaching
critical levels. More than ever, radiology groups need smart
solutions to better leverage the talent they have."
Molecular Imaging and Applied Genomics Combine Data
GE Medical Systems (Waukesha, WI) and Genometrix Incorporated
(The Woodlands, TX) have announced their alliance designed to
combine genetic and protein data with diagnostic imaging to enhance
early diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases.
GE Medical Systems' noninvasive molecular imaging methods, such
as positron emission tomography (PET), combined with computed
tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) using novel
imaging agents, are being developed to detect presymptomatic
disease. Concurrently, Genometrix's genetic- and protein-based
analysis systems are being developed to aid in defining and
identifying patient populations at high risk for specific diseases.
The two companies are combining their molecular imaging and applied
genomics research to detect and quantify risk levels for diseases
such as breast and prostate cancer. The University of Texas M.D.
Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, will pilot the initial
multi-disciplinary research using these combined technologies.
"This agreement will combine the strengths of genomics,
functional genomics, and molecular imaging to put better
information in the hands of healthcare professionals," said Joseph
M. Hogan, president and CEO of GE Medical Systems.
"Linking imaging information with genetic and protein data will
help cancer professionals diagnose disease earlier, individualize
treatment, and confirm the effectiveness of treatment," said Dr.
Waun Ki Hong, head of the Division of Cancer Medicine at M.D.
Enhanced Needle Visualization for US-Guided Breast
STS Biopolymers, Inc. (Henrietta, NY) has announced the
availability of echogenic ultrasound needles for use in breast
localization. The entire ECHO-COAT Ultrasound Needle shaft is
visible under ultrasound when positioned at virtually any angle,
permitting a more direct path to the lesion.
The coating on the needle shaft entraps bubbles of air in
microcavities on the surface of a thin, smooth, biocompatible,
adherent polymeric film. This echogenic surface provides increased
acoustical scattering and, when applied to the entire length of the
needle shaft, can provide a bright ultrasound image of the device
at virtually any angle.
GE Medical Systems Acquires EchoTech 3D Imaging
GE Medical Systems (Milwaukee, WI) has acquired Munich-based
EchoTech 3D Imaging Systems, a leading developer of ultrasound 3D
As a Center of Excellence for GE's 3D imaging technology,
EchoTech will continue to develop and supply 3D technology for all
ultrasound manufacturers from its Munich headquarters. "We will
continue to maintain and even expand the support we provide to our
dealers in order to service the huge installed base of ultrasound
systems, no matter which brand they are," said Hartmut Kynig,
Manager, Global Sales and Marketing, 3D Technology, and one of the
co-founders of EchoTech.
"3D imaging is a fast growing segment in ultrasound; it enables
new and unique methods of displaying the anatomy, increasing
diagnostic confidence," said Omar Ishrak, vice president and
general manager of Global Ultrasound for GE Medical Systems. "The
addition of EchoTech's product line to our portfolio will provide
us with new capabilities on our LOGIQ and ViVid systems. EchoTech
will continue to provide upgrades for all ultrasound users."