Aloka debuts high-performance radiology ultrasound platform

September 15, 2004

Tokyo-based ultrasound manufacturer Aloka introduced a new diagnostic ultrasound system at the World Congress On Ultrasound In Obstetrics And Gynecology held Aug. 31 to Sept. 4 in Stockholm, Sweden. The ProSound Alpha 5(1) is the first member of a new family of products that will feature Aloka’s next-generation digital processing technology.

Tokyo-based ultrasound manufacturer Aloka introduced a new diagnostic ultrasound system at the World Congress On Ultrasound In Obstetrics And Gynecology held Aug. 31 to Sept. 4 in Stockholm, Sweden. The ProSound Alpha 5(1) is the first member of a new family of products that will feature Aloka's next-generation digital processing technology.

The decision to announce the system's arrival at this meeting was based partly on Aloka's existing strength in ob/gyn, according to Claudio Buffagni, Aloka's international vice president of sales and marketing.

"This is one of our main markets where we are quite well known, and we have quite a good share of this market right now in Europe and worldwide," he said.

The company plans to distribute the system throughout the world. The product has a CE Mark and will be available for shipping to European customers by the end of the year, he said. Aloka expects to begin U.S. sales in 2005. The FDA cleared the ProSound Alpha 5(1) in July (see story this issue). It will be exhibited at the upcoming RSNA meeting.

Further ultrasound systems using Aloka's next-generation digital front end will be rolled out in due course, Buffagni said. The company has no plans to drop any of its existing ultrasound systems and will continue to promote its full range of models alongside the new ProSound Alpha family.

Aloka expects the ProSound Alpha 5(1) to stand out from rivals in two key respects. First, the new system provides superior image quality and contrast resolution. This is due to the product's next-generation digital front end developed by Aloka researchers in Japan. Advanced microcircuit technology permits noise-free signal transmission and reception, resulting in clearer, crisper images, according to the company. Second, the ProSound Alpha conserves energy.

"We have developed a unique high-speed digital processor specifically for ultrasonic signal processing. The highly integrated processor delivers a compact front end with the SSD-5500 SV's processing capabilities, while reducing power consumption by 40%," said Yoshihiro Yoshikawa, Ph.D., president of Aloka.

The SSD-5500 SV was launched at this year's European Congress of Radiology (SCAN 3/24/04).

Aloka is positioning the ProSound Alpha 5(1) as a high-end system to compete directly for the market share served by Siemens Medical Solutions' Sonoline Antares, Toshiba Medical System's Aplio 50, and GE Healthcare's Logiq 7, according to Buffagni. The system is intended for use in all general ultrasound applications.

The ProSound Alpha 5(1) will feature smart functionality, including definitive tissue harmonic echo imaging (D-THE); multibeam processing, which uses a high frame rate for observing fast-moving anatomy; real-time free angular M-mode imaging (FAM); and 3D display for fetal imaging. Aloka's intelligent data management system (iDMS) will store and manage digital patient data. Users are also expected to benefit from the system's simple console panel layout, high mobility, and compact design.

The main strength of Aloka's Alpha 5(1) technology, however, goes back to the fundamentals of routine ultrasound imaging, Buffagni said. He cited its improved quality of standard 2D diagnostic images.

"We hear a lot today about 3D and 4D ultrasound and specific tools, but no one is talking about resolution any more," he said. "It is as if ultrasound has arrived and doesn't have any more possibilities to grow up. That just isn't true. There is still a lot more that can be done in terms of image quality and higher resolution."