DR and CR manufacturers focus on turnkey solutions

November 5, 2004
Steven K. Wagner

Solutions-oriented technologies are securing a place for digital radiography and computed radiography in medical imaging. Customers are becoming more sophisticated about what they need from these products, particularly in terms of workflow, image quality, systems interface, and usability.

"People are looking for some of the digital issues to go away, and we've made a concerted effort to simplify what it means to go digital," said Scott Burkhart, director of Philips Medical Systems radiography and RF business units.

Philips will show its DigitalDiagnost VM at the RSNA meeting. Introduced as a work-in-progress at last year's meeting and launched in North America in June, the VM enables users to acquire a DR system at the rock-bottom price of about $350,000, a third of the typical cost. It offers CR/DR integration using a multipurpose single-detector configuration. Because of this full integration, including a built-in CR reader, the system covers a broad range of applications: Scheduling, verification, and general postprocessing can all be done at a single acquisition workplace. Features include cassette size flexibility, light weight, minimal dead borders, and wireless operation.

GE Healthcare expects to see the DR boom continue as buyers strive to reduce costs and improve productivity. GE will showcase its upgraded Revolution XR/d system and a suite of advanced applications, including RapidScreen Digital computer-aided detection, dual energy subtraction, and tomosynthesis.

The company will also show a new CR scanner, not yet named, with scanning optics that allow CR plates to be scanned and the images previewed more quickly. The scanner enables a variety of device configurations, including centralized high-volume systems, distributed single-plate readers, and cassetteless flat panels.

"DR will continue to make great strides in image quality and productivity," said Renaue Maloverti, manager of global radiography for GE Healthcare. "We expect to show continued improvement in and penetration of DR in the various areas where it's now present."

Siemens Medical Solutions will show the Axiom Aristos FX and Axiom Multix M DR systems. Aristos was launched two years ago and returns this year with new applications in emergency, orthopedics, and pediatric imaging. Fully automated, it handles all routine clinical procedures from thoracic to extremity work, providing high-resolution images that are displayed instantly with DICOM integration. Some advanced applications will be added, such as a visualization technology designed for scoliosis patients and DiamondView optimization software for imaging bone structure, soft tissue, and skin border visibility.

Siemens' Axiom Multix M, introduced last year, is a portable flat-panel detector for general-purpose radiographic applications both on and off the table and in the standing position. Its detector can be quickly and easily inserted into the bucky table or wall stand tray where it is automatically centered, allowing both landscape and portrait format positioning. The tube follows the detector in synchronized motion. Emerging uses include orthopedic, trauma, outpatient centers, and physician offices, according to Linda Gallant, U.S. product manager for radiography systems, Siemens Medical Solutions.

Fujifilm Medical Systems returns to Chicago with the upgraded Flex UI, a CR software interface with which users can define functionality according to departmental protocol. Features include three-step processing and the ability to image in remote areas of a hospital.

The company will also show its Velocity T table, seen last year as a work-in-progress. It features fast line-scan technology that promises near-instantaneous image appearance.

"We're going to try to make it clear that there is a difference; that you can't look at all CR and DR systems as a commodity," said John Strauss, director of marketing for imaging systems. "There are tangible differences that affect the daily operation of the system that buyers need to consider before they jump into digital x-ray."

Orex will introduce the ZR, developed for radiology, orthopedic, chiropractic, mobile x-ray, and military applications. Features of the system, which Orex calls the most mobile offering in its distributed CR radiology line, include a 4.5-hour battery life and Wi-Fi networking capability.

The Medical Systems division of Canon U.S.A. will show its line of DR products, including the CXDI-50G. A large-area portable DR system that can migrate to a patient's bedside, it features a compact design and portable panel that enable immediate imaging and instantaneous network transfer of images.

Canon will showcase the Mobile Access Station. It manages patient and study information and streamlines workflow, including order issuance, patient work list creation, examination, image quality-assurance, data transfer, and x-ray image viewer/storage.

Swissray will introduce at the upcoming meeting the ddRCombi Trauma, which was developed specifically for emergency department applications. The company will also unveil several new clinical applications for CAD technology.

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