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Acuson debuts KinetDx to replace Aegis miniPACS


New offering adds native DICOM support, NT serversWhen ultrasound vendor Acuson entered the market for digital image management with the debut of its Aegis system in 1992, the Mountain View, CA, company was careful to avoid tagging its new

New offering adds native DICOM support, NT servers

When ultrasound vendor Acuson entered the market for digital image management with the debut of its Aegis system in 1992, the Mountain View, CA, company was careful to avoid tagging its new offering with a “PACS” label (SCAN 10/21/92). How times have changed. Acuson this month demonstrated the philosophical and technological evolution of the company with the debut of KinetDx, the vendor’s next-generation ultrasound digital image management system.

Aegis represented a technological milestone for Acuson when it was released seven years ago, and Acuson has since installed over 180 Aegis networks. But even cutting-edge technology eventually grows long in the tooth. With KinetDx, Acuson has made a clean sweep, developing a new ultrasound miniPACS platform.

Unveiled at last week’s Symposium for Computer Applications in Radiology in Houston, KinetDx adds a number of new capabilities to the company’s digital image management arsenal. The system has the ability to support echocardiography, radiology, ob/gyn, and vascular ultrasound departments, all with the same server and network components.

In addition to broader departmental support, KinetDx also features several technological advances over Aegis, such as the ability to capture, archive, and display dynamic image clips. While this capability would seem of most benefit to cardiologists, it should also prove of interest to radiology users, said Nancy Keuch-Rosa, director of marketing.

KinetDx can also link up with ultrasound systems provided by other vendors. Hewlett-Packard and ATL Ultrasound have recently added dynamic clip capture capabilities to their ultrasound scanners, and KinetDx could be a nice fit with those offerings, she said.

In another change for Acuson, KinetDx employs the Windows NT platform for both workstations and servers. Aegis used Sun’s Unix operating systems for servers, and until recently, Apple’s Macintosh platform for workstations. On KinetDx, RAID drives are employed for short-term storage, while digital linear tape will serve as the long-term storage medium. Acuson hopes the enhanced scalability of KinetDx will allow the company to market the product to small practices as well as large teaching institutions.

KinetDx also provides native DICOM image output, an improvement over Aegis, and supports DICOM patient modality worklist and structured reporting. KinetDx employs TCP/IP protocols, and its open architecture is a key benefit in integrating the system with another PACS network or other healthcare information systems, said Jeffrey Hastings, PACS division manager at Acuson.

The first commercially available component of KinetDx is the Windows NT-based WS3000 workstation, which was actually introduced at last year’s RSNA meeting. In addition to serving as the front end for the KinetDx network, WS3000 can be linked to a legacy Aegis system.

Alpha testing for KinetDx is scheduled to begin this summer at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. KinetDx, which will be released worldwide, will be available for general imaging customers in the fourth quarter, with cardiology shipments targeted for the first quarter of 2000, Hastings said. Pricing will likely be similar to Aegis, ranging from under $100,000 for small labs up to $1 million for a large-scale implementation, Keuch-Rosa said. Aegis will continue to be supported, and customers will be able to upgrade to KinetDx.

While Acuson was reluctant to embrace the term “PACS” with the launch of Aegis, the company exhibited no such qualms with the KinetDx introduction. The company now features a dedicated PACS business group, and the term “PACS” was sprinkled throughout the press release announcing the new product. The shift in terminology indicates that PACS has become a lucrative business segment for Acuson.

“We’ll have at least 100% growth in PACS sales from 1998 to 1999,” Hastings said.

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