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Diasonics and Vingmed collaborate on new System Five Elite scanner


Premium system displayed in Diasonics' ECR boothDiasonics is working together with its European cardiology subsidiaryVingmed Sound to develop a new premium multipurpose ultrasoundscanner called System Five Elite. The scanner was displayed asa

Premium system displayed in Diasonics' ECR booth

Diasonics is working together with its European cardiology subsidiaryVingmed Sound to develop a new premium multipurpose ultrasoundscanner called System Five Elite. The scanner was displayed asa work-in-progress at Diasonics' booth at this month's EuropeanCongress of Radiology meeting in Vienna.

System Five Elite was developed by combining the R&D effortsof Diasonics and Vingmed, according to Hans-J¿rgen Alker,business line director at Norway-based Vingmed. The scanner representsa new leap forward for the companies in the use of digital technology,he said.

The system is based on a totally digital architecture, with anew digital beamformer. In the past, Diasonics scanners used digitaltechnology only in their back ends, Alker said. System Five Elitealso uses custom-specific ASICs (application-specific integratedcircuits) for tasks including acquisition, image processing, anddisplay.

The flexibility of the scanner is also a major benefit, Alkersaid. System Five Elite can work with every Diasonics/Vingmedprobe configuration, including phased arrays, curved linear arrays,endocavity probes, and Diasonics' novel two-dimensional transducers.Diasonics and Vingmed have also added new algorithms for color-flowand Ultrasound Angio signal processing.

The digital architecture of the system makes it easy to integrateinto hospital PACS networks, according to Alker. It outputs adirect DICOM signal, enabling users to connect it to a DICOM networkwithout the need for a video framegrabber to digitize its signals.

System Five Elite will be introduced first in Europe as a cardiologyscanner, with shared services applications to follow. Furtherdown the road, the scanner will be sold for radiology and ob/gynapplications. Although Alker declined to state a list price forthe product, it will be positioned in the premium ultrasound segmentagainst scanners like Acuson's Sequoia.

The company is still formulating its plans for a U.S. introductionof System Five Elite, which does not yet have 510(k) clearancein the U.S. The product will not be displayed at this month'sAmerican Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine conference, accordingto Ken Marich, director of marketing communications at Diasonics.

"The architecture will be used for future Diasonics products,but we are still waiting for 510(k) clearance before we make anyintroduction in the U.S.," Marich said, adding that the introductioncould be six to 12 months away.

In other news, Diasonics parent Elbit Medical Imaging reportedthat cost-cutting moves at its Elbit Ultrasound group, which includesDiasonics, Vingmed, Ausonics, and Sonotron Holding, helped improveprofitability in 1996 (end-December). The company reduced thenumber of Elbit Ultrasound's R&D and production centers fromfour to three by moving its Ausonics operations from Australiato Diasonics' headquarters in Milpitas, CA. Elbit Ultrasound alsobegan a program to cut its work force by 15%, an effort expectedto be completed by the first quarter of this year.

For the year, Elbit Ultrasound had revenues of $208.9 million,up slightly compared with $207 million in 1995. The group's grossprofit was $80.2 million, compared with $77.3 million the yearbefore.

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