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ECR offers vendors chance to showcase wares lost in RSNA shuffle


The European Congress of Radiology in March functions as an encore to the RSNA meeting held three months earlier, affording vendors the opportunity to present new products not ready for release during the Chicago meeting. It also gave vendors a chance to showcase offerings whose RSNA introduction was overshadowed by other products.

The European Congress of Radiology in March functions as an encore to the RSNA meeting held three months earlier, affording vendors the opportunity to present new products not ready for release during the Chicago meeting. It also gave vendors a chance to showcase offerings whose RSNA introduction was overshadowed by other products.

Siemens Medical Solutions introduced at ECR a lightweight, mobile C-arm designed as an adjunct for cardiac and abdominal interventions. The Arcadis Avantic features a 20-kW generator with a continuous digital 1K x 1K image chain and a 13-inch image intensifier. The imaging chain can deliver 30 frames per second.

"It might be used as a backup for a big angio system. Even if you don't have the same image quality, it would be there for an urgent case," said Seyfi Ceyhan, Siemens' product manager for surgery.

Although it might be applied outside the OR, the system is optimized for applications in cardiovascular surgery and electrophysiology, as well as radiological interventions in gastroenterology.

It was the third and most recent addition to Siemens' Arcadis family of lightweight, compact, and highly mobile C-arms. Arcadis Orbic with its 3D configuration, introduced at the 2004 RSNA meeting, is designed for intraoperative use in orthopedics and trauma surgery. Arcadis Varic, unveiled at the 2004 ECR, is designed for general surgical support. These two and the latest family member, Avantic, are equipped with Siemens syngo capability, which supports viewing of multimodality images.

"With this, if you have a patient in the OR, you can get all the views from CT and MR," Ceyhan said.

The Arcadis family of products is designed for markets worldwide. Avantic is scheduled to enter production in August. The company has not yet received regulatory clearances for Europe or the U.S.

Philips Medical Systems introduced a motorized radiography system featuring battery technology that promises all-day scanning without recharging. The advanced battery design frees the operator from the power cord that can hamstring a mobile radiography system, especially in tight quarters.

"In the ICU or trauma, where you have equipment and cables all around the patient, it is necessary to disturb the patient as little as possible," said Annette Eckhardt, Ph.D., international senior product manager for Philips' conventional radiography. "You don't want to be looking for a socket."

The presentation of Practix Convenio at the ECR marked the official start of its marketing. Philips plans to begin installing the units at selected customer sites over the next few months. Full production is expected to begin at the end of summer.

The film-based system doubles as a platform for Philips CR. Multiple-sized CR cassettes provide greater flexibility in matching the body part to the image than a one-size digital detector, Eckhardt said. Also, CR plates do not require cabling to the unit, as digital detectors do, and they present less risk of costly mistakes.

"This PCR cassette can be easily managed with one hand and, if it falls down and breaks, it is not so expensive, like a digital detector," she said.

The motorized carriage allows radiographers to move the system at the touch of a button. A telescoping arm enables easy placement of the x-ray tube over the patient.

The ECR hosted the first general unveiling of Philips' latest high-performance ultrasound system, the HD (high definition) 11. The company launched the system commercially in mid-February (SCAN 2/21/05) as a state-of-the-art alternative for budget-strapped healthcare facilities.

HD11, which lists for about $100,000, can serve as a secondary ultrasound unit in a tertiary-care center or a primary system in physicians' offices and clinics. The new product is designed as a shared services, or multispecialty, system, addressing radiology, vascular, ob/gyn, and cardiac applications. It can be configured to handle all four, or optimized for any combination or a single application.

HD11 is being released in markets around the world, but David L. McCarty, market manager, Philips' global general imaging for ultrasound, expects that up to 40% of the units will be sold in Europe.

"We did extensive customer interviews around the world, but we got a lot of input from European customers," he said. "Europe has a sizable high-performance market."

Automation is a key point of the system, which offers iSCAN Intelligent Optimization. This function optimizes multiple parameters, including gain, TGC (time gain compensation), and compression curve. Ergonomics also figure prominently with a rotating and height-adjustable control panel and monitor that provide flexibility in restricted imaging settings.

"It's definitely the most ergonomic of any high-performance system," McCarty said.

HD11 is being positioned between HDI 5000 and HDI 4000 in Philips' radiology portfolio and between the Sono7500 and EnVisor in its cardiology lineup. It is the third new sonographic product to be released by Philips in the past 12 months. The others are the iU22 for radiology and iE33 for cardiology.

GE Healthcare showcased its own form of high-definition imaging, but in MR rather than ultrasound. The company framed High Definition MR as the means for conducting studies that today are too time-consuming. It should have an immediate impact on difficult applications, such as brain scans of children and patients with Parkinson's disease. HDMR has a similarly positive effect on motion-sensitive studies of the heart and abdomen, while speeding up MR mammography by allowing data acquisition from both breasts simultaneously and even supporting dynamic MR angiography of the legs.

"We have designed a system that brings new clinical relevance to the medical community and, in the end, to the patients," said Stefano Vagliani, GE's general manager for MR in Europe. "We created the new electronic devices, new interfaces, and clinical software that really brings additional value."

The data being processed by HDMR are acquired using a new generation of high-performance surface coil, such as a 32-element peripheral vascular coil that extends below the knee and covers each foot with what looks like a ski boot. The new coil, in combination with HDMR, allows dynamic imaging of blood flow.

The increased data flow from this and other such coils, along with the advanced processing capabilities of HDMR, allow the gathering of MR data in novel ways. One such method, called Propeller, acquires data radially rather than in the conventional rectilinear fashion. Propeller is relatively insensitive to motion and, therefore, ideally suited for use with patients prone to movement. LAVA (liver acquisitions with volume acceleration) cuts scan time for liver and other abdominal applications. An acquisition scheme that mimics echocardiography allows cardiac imaging without ECG. Other such methods are in the works.

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