Acuson launches Imagegate upgrade for Aspen, Sequoia

Software package improves interface to KinetDxUltrasound vendor Acuson took another step toward the digital lab of the future this month with the launch of Imagegate, an upgrade package aimed at improving image quality, connectivity,

Software package improves interface to KinetDx

Ultrasound vendor Acuson took another step toward the digital lab of the future this month with the launch of Imagegate, an upgrade package aimed at improving image quality, connectivity, and productivity for its Sequoia and Aspen ultrasound platforms. The release includes both software and hardware, and comes close on the heels of the debut of KinetDx, Acuson’s next-generation ultrasound digital management system that will replace its legacy Aegis offering (SCAN 5/12/99). With Imagegate and KinetDx in its product portfolio, Acuson executives now believe they can offer customers a cohesive digital lab option.

The company designed Imagegate for both general imaging and echocardiography platforms on the Aspen and Sequoia units. The package improves Sequoia’s image quality and adds performance advances to Aspen, according to Acuson executives.

“Imagegate has taken Aspen in particular to a whole new level,” said Bill Carrano, director of worldwide marketing for general imaging. “Some people perceive it as a different system in its performance.”

Imagegate includes improved user interface features such as a keyboard with logically grouped function keys and down lighting that reduces double strokes, as well as Image Control, a capability that allows users to obtain an image without having to fine-tune the system parameters. Imagegate also adds to Aspen’s and Sequoia’s DICOM compatibility, not only improving communication between the platforms and KinetDx, but allowing users to transmit images and access a patient’s demographic information from the hospital’s HIS/RIS network while the exam is in progress.

Imagegate carries specific features for Aspen’s and Sequoia’s general imaging and echocardiography versions that enhance both systems’ Native Tissue Harmonic Imaging (NTHI) and fundamental imaging capability. Last year, Acuson introduced NTHI, a technique that transmits lower frequency sound waves to improve penetration (SCAN 2/4/98). The general imaging version of Imagegate brings the option of a new transducer for Aspen, 4C1, which images in the 1 MHz range and carries 2-D and Doppler sensitivity. The transducer works well with patients who have traditionally been difficult to image, according Carrano.

“The 4C1 transducer, combined with NTHI, allows us to image patients who were formerly not candidates for ultrasound but were referred to MR or CT,” Carrano said.

The echocardiography version of Imagegate for both Aspen and Sequoia has 10 new contrast-agent-specific image optimization programs, while the Sequoia echocardiography platform now has a Cadence Contrast Agent Imaging option that works with Acuson’s Power Contrast Imaging (PCI) method for displaying loss of correlation and harmonic color Doppler velocity mode.

Imagegate is part of Acuson’s effort to offer customers a complete digital lab solution, according to Carrano.

“Imagegate expands the power of the overall digital lab for our customers, which is how they want to practice ultrasound in the future,” Carrano said. “(In addition to Imagegate), we have ViewPro, KinetDx, and the DIMAQ workstation in our product line. A lot of people talk digital, but we go beyond the system to the whole network to increase our customers’ productivity.”

The company will offer Imagegate as a free upgrade to clients who are under warranty and/or service agreements for Aspen or Sequoia systems. For those clients not under warranty or service agreements, the cost for a Sequoia Imagegate upgrade will be approximately $10,000, and for Aspen, $7500, according to Joe Chera, director of worldwide cardiology marketing.

Acuson will begin installing upgrades late this year or in early 2000. New systems manufactured after Aug. 1 now carry Imagegate as standard, and the list price of the units will not be affected.

In other Acuson news, the Mountain View, CA, firm installed 10 Sequoia systems at two Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) hospitals in California: one Sequoia echocardiography unit at San Bernardino Community Hospital, and eight Sequoia systems for radiology and ob/gyn applications and one Aspen system at Mercy Healthcare Sacramento hospitals.