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Broader spiral line taps continued strength in CT

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Elscint begat a new spiral CT family last month with the introductionof three volumetric scanners positioned underneath the vendor'spremium CT Twin system. The move was in part a recognition ofsystem price constraints in the European market. Elscint

Elscint begat a new spiral CT family last month with the introductionof three volumetric scanners positioned underneath the vendor'spremium CT Twin system. The move was in part a recognition ofsystem price constraints in the European market. Elscint exhibitedthe expanded CT line at the European Congress of Radiology conferencein Vienna.

Two of the new scanners, Helicat and Helicat II, are single-detectorsystems positioned to compete with the bulk of spiral CT offeringson the market. The third scanner, CT Twin II, is a lower pricedversion of the dual-detector CT Twin.

CT Twin II trims system cost compared to the Twin through areduction in some technical specifications, such as a lower heatcapacity tube. All Elscint spiral units use the same hardwareand software architecture as the Twin, however, and may be upgradedto the premium system.

Elscint entered the spiral CT market two years ago with allits technological guns firing (SCAN 2/12/92). The CT Twin's dualsolid-state detector design was--and remains--unique in the market.By acquiring two slices during one cycle of the continuously rotatingx-ray gantry and tube, users scan volumes faster than with single-detectorspiral systems of comparable cycle times. This allows for thecoverage of a larger area during single-breath-hold exams. Dualacquisition also offers savings potential through reduced tubeusage per volume scanned.

Although the CT Twin technology was attractive, its high-endprice tag remained out of reach for many customers. European capson capital acquisitions combined with the general recession andcurrency devaluations in several markets convinced Elscint ofthe need to provide lower end alternatives to the Twin in CT,according to Jonathan Adereth, Elscint vice president of sales.

"The Twin II and Helicat II are derivative of the situationin the European market," he told SCAN. "When we initiallyintroduced the Twin, we did not intend to introduce a lower endversion. As is normally the case with a premium product, we introducedit with the full range of options and features. In Europe, however,while there was a wish to buy it, the cost was exceeding availablebudgets."

Worldwide as well as in Europe, Elscint's investment in CTdevelopment over the last several years has proven fruitful. Demandfor CT has kept up relative to other medical imaging modalities.

"Contrary to many of our competitors and industry analysts,we predicted five years ago that CT was not going to decline dueto the introduction of MRI," said Dan Inbar, Elscint vicepresident of marketing. "We saw a continued need (for CTservices) from the referral base. This proved to be true, especiallyduring this year when there has been some decline in the worldMRI market but no decline at all in the CT market."

Elscint has seen strong demand for the Twin in Europe and elsewhere--despiteits price. Over 20 units have been sold in France, Adereth said.The vendor shipped its first Helicat to Canada last month andhas three European deliveries scheduled in France and Germany.

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