Cemax software approach takes off

October 9, 1991

Cemax has entered into OEM supply relationships with four scannermanufacturers and is negotiating with two more. Sales of its revampedmedical image processing line began in June and have provideda substantial boost to the Fremont, CA, firm's bottom line,

Cemax has entered into OEM supply relationships with four scannermanufacturers and is negotiating with two more. Sales of its revampedmedical image processing line began in June and have provideda substantial boost to the Fremont, CA, firm's bottom line, accordingto Terry Ross, president and CEO.

"Our profits skyrocketed," Ross told SCAN. Cemax isa privately-held company.

The medical image processing software developer jettisoned itshardware development program last year and began writing softwareto run on off-the-shelf Sun Microsystems workstations (SCAN 8/15/90).

Cemax is maintaining a sales organization to sell workstationsand software-only packages directly to clinical end users. Customerswho already own a Sun workstation can buy the Cemax software separately.

Sun is a pioneer in open-architecture computer systems andnetworking. When users install the Cemax medical processing softwareon a Sun workstation, they can also run 3000 other software programs,Ross said.

The market for post-image-acquisition medical image processinghas been dampened over the years by several factors, not the leastof which has been the high price of dedicated medical workstations.Cemax has chopped the price of its combined workstation and softwaresystems from substantially over $100,000 using proprietary hardwareto about $90,000 with the Sun equipment, Ross said.

Image processing includes more complex three-dimensional andmultiplanar reconstruction as well as basic functions such aswindowing and leveling images on-screen. According to Ross, clinicaluse of image processing systems is on the rise due to:

  • reduced workstation prices;
  • improved automation of procedures;
  • availability of direct digital interfaces to scanners;and
  • improved clinical utility through the development oftrue volume visualization in addition to surface-rendering techniques.

"Previous Cemax workstations and, I believe, existingcompetitive workstations are still very labor-intensive. It isdifficult to say they reduce the workload in a department whenyou have to staff them almost full time," Ross said.

Cemax has developed an automated, unattended filming function,for instance, which allows the technologist to start the filmingprocess and then leave the unit to function on its own. Digitalimages are sent automatically to laser cameras for filming.

"We have a genuine reduction in (image) cycle time,"Ross said. "This makes sense in radiology departments. Whenthe machines are truly automated so the amount of hospital technologistlabor time is drastically reduced, it really becomes a workstation.It delivers more than you put into it."

Volume rendering in 3-D image processing and MPR is improvingthe clinical utility of these techniques, particularly when usedwith MRI soft-tissue imaging, he said. This should boost acceptanceof the technology by radiologists as well as referring physicians.

"It is important to know where the pathology is in relationto other organs in 3-D space. This is much easier to show withtrue volume rendering capabilities," Ross said.

BRIEFLY NOTED:

  • Cytogen received the first national approvals for salesof its OncoScint CR103 monoclonal antibody imaging agent. Theagent is used for nuclear imaging of colorectal cancer. Approvalsby Germany and Luxembourg were announced last week. Cytogen receiveda positive recommendation from the Committee for Proprietary MedicinalProducts of the European Community in June (SCAN 7/3/91).

This marks the first approval of a cancer-targeted monoclonalagent in Europe. Centocor has been selling Myoscint, a cardiacimaging agent, in Europe for two years. No monoclonal imagingagents are yet approved for market by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.EuroCetus will distribute OncoScint exclusively in Europe.

"Germany offers the largest market potential for colorectalcancer imaging (in Europe), with an incidence of approximately49,000 patients per year," said Fillipo La Monica, presidentof EuroCetus. There are over 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancerin Europe annually, he said.

  • Picker International of Cleveland names Shimadzu as itsexclusive distributor of Prism nuclear medicine cameras in Japan.At the same time, Picker signed on as an OEM customer for a remotex-ray table subsystem manufactured by the Japanese medical imagingvendor. The Shimadzu table will be integrated into full systemsusing a Picker generator and other components. Picker has non-exclusiverights to distribute the remote table in North America and WesternEurope.

The Japanese nuclear agreement will boost Picker's sales inthat important medical imaging market, said Timothy B. Hansen,vice president of Picker's CT and nuclear medicine divisions."This distribution agreement expands Shimadzu's product offeringsin Japan and provides Picker the support of Shimadzu's strongsales force and service team in a vital market area," hesaid.

Separately, Picker entered into a two-year distribution agreementwith Victoreen of Cleveland. The scanner vendor will sell Victoreen'sradiation detection and measurement instrumentation.

  • Fischer Imaging has taken over full control of the Mammoteststereotactic needle biopsy system from ABB Tekniska RÕontgencentralen(TRC) of Sweden. Fischer was granted marketing rights last monthfor Mammotest in Europe and all other international markets andwill assume all related trademarks and patents from TRC. The Swedishfirm will cease production of its version of Mammotest. The dealwill cost Fischer a fixed payment of $500,000 over three years.

The Denver medical imaging vendor has manufactured Mammotestfor several years and sold it in the U.S. under exclusive licenseto TRC (SCAN 11/11/87). Fischer made substantial improvementsto the system over that time period and has developed its ownproprietary technology related to the system (SCAN 7/31/91). About60 Mammotest machines are installed in the U.S.

"This new agreement clears the way for our planned expansioninto Europe during 1992 ... The agreement is effective immediately.Our next step will be to establish a marketing organization inEurope and begin an educational program for European physicians,"said Morgan W. Nields, Fischer chairman and CEO.