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Dedicated PET, fusion technology stimulate nuclear medicine interest


Nuclear medicine firms arrived at the RSNA meeting optimistic about the modality’s potential for growth. Despite an overall flat market in 1999, vendors predict sales will climb over the next two years from $700 million to more than $1 billion,

Nuclear medicine firms arrived at the RSNA meeting optimistic about the modality’s potential for growth. Despite an overall flat market in 1999, vendors predict sales will climb over the next two years from $700 million to more than $1 billion, fueled in part by the maturation of the PET market and increasing interest in the fusion of anatomical and functional data.

Industry observers saw an explosion in the PET market worldwide in 1999, with sales of $250 million compared to 1998’s $100 million, and expect the market to increase to $300 million by the end of this year. In light of this growth, many vendors stressed their commitment to dedicated PET systems.

Also prominent in nuclear medicine booths was work on either fusion software or hybrid systems that address the problem of nuclear medicine’s low spatial resolution by overlaying anatomical and physiological images.

ADAC Laboratories

  • Big news at ADAC’s booth was Skylight, a gantryless dual-head gamma camera based on Forte detectors (SCAN 12/15/99). The work-in-progress unit can be mounted on a room’s ceiling or walls, or from a four-pole frame ADAC provides. ADAC is working on its 510(k) application for the unit, and expects to bring it to market in 12 to 18 months.
  • The company displayed works-in-progress protocols, including Vantage Pro with ExSPECT II, a nonuniform attenuation correction technique; InStill, an automated motion correction algorithm for cardiac imaging; and InSync, a simultaneous dual-isotope imaging package.


  • Digirad presented upgrades to Digirad 2020 TC Imager, its single-head, solid-state digital gamma camera, including a remote-controlled motorized arm. Digirad will begin fulfilling orders for 2020 TC Imager this month. The company also highlighted upgrades to SPECTour, its SPECT rotating chair, including motorized adjustments that automatically position the patient’s heart within the correct field-of-view, and a redesigned arm and chair back that increase patient support.
  • In an effort to maximize manufacturing efficiencies, San Diego, CA-based Digirad has changed its detector system, switching from cadmium zinc telluride (CZT)-based units to cesium iodide/silicon photo-diode-based detectors.

GE Medical Systems

  • GE displayed its Functional Anatomic Mapping unit, which it calls Hawkeye internally. The device is based on the Millennium VG platform, includes a CT scanner, and can perform CT/PET and CT/SPECT studies, as well as SPECT and coincidence PET. Functional Anatomic Mapping was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration in August, and GE expects to begin shipping in mid-2000. All Millennium VG units may be upgraded to Hawkeye, the company said.
  • GE highlighted its dedicated PET unit, Advance, and unveiled a mobile version of the unit, Mobile PET Advance, which was displayed in the booth of the Waukesha, WI-based firm’s mobile partner, Calumet Coach. GE plans to certify two other mobile providers in the next few months, and expects to begin shipping the units in the second quarter of 2000. The company also showcased PETrace and MiniTrace, its cyclotron products.
  • GE unveiled a workstation that combines features from Elscint’s Expert and GE’s Genie. Since GE bought Elscint’s nuclear medicine and MR businesses in 1998 (SCAN 11/25/98), the company has continued to support both workstations, while working to integrate them. The work-in-progress unit, which GE calls Einstein, combines Expert’s software features with Genie’s programmability and user interface on a Windows NT platform. The new workstation will ship with Hawkeye when GE begins selling that unit.
  • The company displayed panels on its work with Bicron’s StarBrite scintillation crystals, which should allow clinicians to perform high-energy PET studies without compromising the quality of SPECT studies.

Marconi Medical Systems

  • Showcased in the Cleveland vendor’s booth was Irix, its three-head gamma camera, with a work-in-progress gPET3 option that allows all three heads to be used in PET mode. Marconi installed Irix with gPET3 at a beta site, Loma Linda Cancer Center in California, just before the show, and hopes to begin shipping the option to its installed base early next year.
  • The company, formerly known as Picker International, highlighted Beacon, its barium-133-based nonuniform attenuation correction product that performs in both PET and SPECT modes. Beacon S, the SPECT version, has been cleared by the FDA, and Marconi received clearance for Beacon P, a PET imaging product, at the meeting. Beacon P should begin shipping early next year.
  • Marconi also stressed its Integrated Oncology concept throughout its booth. The company has been working to integrate product lines in its CT and oncology divisions, developing PET/CT image registration, as well as two new software packages, Acqsim and Acqplan. Acqsim allows users to identify the location of disease in the body relative to anatomy using fused data from PET/CT studies, while Acqplan helps clinicians create a treatment plan for patients. Cancer therapy is being added to the program through a collaboration with radiation therapy firm Varian Medical Systems.

Siemens Medical Systems

  • The key word in Siemens’ booth this year was integration. The company launched syngo, a software architecture that links all its modalities’ computers, information systems, and equipment, and presented E.Station 2000, a PC-based workstation for its E.Cam product line. E.Station was developed using syngo, as well as proprietary nuclear medicine software, called E.Soft. The Hoffman Estates, IL, company also displayed software updates to its PET camera, E.Cat.
  • Siemens highlighted its disease management focus, particularly its work-in-progress PET/CT unit installed at the University of Pittsburgh. The company has completed its initial-phase clinical validation of the PET/CT device, and expects to have a next-generation prototype in late 2000. Siemens also continues its work on a PET/SPECT device based on LSO detectors, and plans to install an alpha unit in Europe this month.

SMV America

  • Showcased in SMV America’s booth was work-in-progress Positrace, a PET unit with an integrated CT scanner (SCAN 12/15/99). Positrace’s PET scanner carries a 54-cm field-of-view, uses six sodium iodide crystal detectors arranged in a hexagonal configuration, and boasts a 70-cm aperture. SMV expects to submit a 510(k) application for Positrace early next year, and will install the unit at two clinical beta sites in France in the spring. Positrace should be commercially available by fourth quarter 2000.
  • The Twinsburg, OH, company also highlighted DSTi, a new addition to its “i-series” product line. DSTi is a variable-angle, dedicated cardiology unit with two 400 x 300-mm detectors that can perform stress function and perfusion exams and accommodates hospital bed or stretcher imaging.
  • SMV presented the first clinical results from its VCR/TAC attenuation correction option for coincidence imaging on DST-XLi, its dual-detector, variable-angle device. VCR/TAC has been cleared by the FDA, and SMV expects to begin shipping the package in the first quarter of 2000.

Toshiba America Medical Systems

  • In its booth, Toshiba highlighted Siemens’ E.Soft, a Windows NT-based nuclear medicine acquisition software package, as well as GMS-5500A/PI, a next-generation, 333-MHz UltraSPARC workstation for its version of E.Cam, which it began shipping in November.
  • Toshiba continues to develop its image fusion program that combines CT, MRI, and nuclear medicine images, for which it hopes to receive 510(k) clearance early this year. The Tustin, CA, company introduced UltraSPECT, an automatic processing tool for myocardial SPECT studies, and highlighted triple energy window scatter correction for gallium and indium images, and its work on Emory Cardiac Toolbox, which it hopes will be cleared by the FDA in mid-2000. Toshiba also presented Merged SPECT 3-D, an algorithm that merges SPECT scans into one axial whole-body 3-D image, and emphasized its OSEM iterative reconstruction technique for low-energy imaging.

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