3TP eliminates need for coil in prostate MR exams

September 26, 2005

White Plains, NY-based 3TP Imaging Sciences has released prostate MRI software that eliminates the need for an endorectal coil. The new ProStream package streamlines workflow and makes prostate MR scans more feasible for busy private radiology practices, potentially increasing the use of these exams.

White Plains, NY-based 3TP Imaging Sciences has released prostate MRI software that eliminates the need for an endorectal coil. The new ProStream package streamlines workflow and makes prostate MR scans more feasible for busy private radiology practices, potentially increasing the use of these exams.

ProStream's proprietary image processing fTP+ (full-time-point plus) algorithm enhances the company's 3TP (three-time-point) technology, which analyzes differences in data from contrast-enhanced MR images of the breast taken at three time points. The fTP+, a more complex algorithm, enables analysis of all available time points. The algorithm resides on a server, which processes the data from a prostate MR, then sends the colorized images to a workstation or PACS.

The company plans to expand its own direct sales force over the next six months to sell ProStream and sign up distributors for the new product. The price has yet to be determined. Primary targets include freestanding radiology clinics and hospital-based radiology departments, according to David Joslin, 3TP's chief operating officer.

Company executives hope to generate a buzz about their prostate package similar to the one they have created around their first product, which focuses on breast MR. Their primary challenge is the nature of prostate imaging. This is a particularly difficult organ to image, according to Joslin.

"It is very difficult to produce images that provide meaningful data that a radiologist can use to make a diagnosis," he said. "So that is a challenge. We are going to have to carefully foster and promote prostate imaging."

Founded in March 2002, 3TP Imaging Sciences commercialized the "3TP Method" developed by Prof. Hadassa Degani of the Weizmann Institute of Science. The 3TP analysis compares signal intensities among three different time points to make a colorized MR image. Users can view cellular dynamics in the static images to identify subtle differences in tissue biology.

The more robust fTP+ takes information from all time points, creating colorizations based on tumor biology, not just signal changes. It enables calculation of vascular permeability and extracellular volume fraction values for all pixels within a region of interest in contrast-enhanced MR studies. Signal problems at any time point have less impact on the processed image, because there are about 10 time points as opposed to only three, said 3TP president Dr. Andreas Muehler.

ProStream resolves a dilemma inherent in contrast-enhanced prostate MR imaging. Such imaging requires a fast, dynamic scanning protocol due to quick contrast uptake in prostate tissue, particularly cancerous tissue. At the same time, diagnosis requires high spatial resolution and good signal-to-noise ratios. Before ProStream, these requirements were at odds. But ProStream's fTP+ algorithm allows for simultaneous high temporal and high spatial resolution in dynamic contrast-enhanced series, Muehler said.

Further, because the data acquired during a conventional scan are enough for ProStream, an endorectal coil is not required. Eliminating the need for such a coil can improve workflow when doing prostate MR procedures, as coil placement is time-consuming. The need for such placement has likely dissuaded many radiologists from conducting prostate MR.

The company addressed the problem at its roots, looking for a method that provided high spatial resolution and high signal-to-noise imaging that did not depend on an endorectal coil. Necessary compensation was made possible with proprietary software algorithms that process the image data after acquisition.

"ProStream replaces the coil with a mask image and a case-based strategy to calculate images," Muehler said.

Specifically, the fTP+ algorithm enhances spatial resolution and signal to noise by creating a hybrid image series, according to the company. This series consists of the outer k-space data taken from the high-resolution mask image of the tissue structure and the inner k-space data taken from the rapid contrast-enhanced series containing the kinetic information that drives tissue characterization.

ProStream could make prostate MR usage more widespread, as it gives the radiologist a tool to evaluate the underlying physiologic parameters of prostate disease. Further, a small busy radiology practice may avoid the cost of the disposable endorectal coil.

The company said that independent studies have shown the combination of both morphologically and physiologically based methods can provide important information about the status and extent of prostate disease. ProStream may be used in combination with T2-weighted images for accurate and reliable assessment of prostate tissues. In addition, it is easy to use and provides economic benefits.

"As it doesn't require a coil, ProStream can be used in private radiology practices everywhere, because it involves a very simple and cost-effective procedure," Muehler said.