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Elscint debuts MagiCam at SNM show as first product from GE joint venture


New system targets mid-tier variable-angle nicheNuclear medicine vendor Elscint, of Haifa, Israel, will unveil a new work-in-progress gamma camera at next week's Society of Nuclear Medicine meeting that is designed to take on the mid-tier

New system targets mid-tier variable-angle niche

Nuclear medicine vendor Elscint, of Haifa, Israel, will unveil a new work-in-progress gamma camera at next week's Society of Nuclear Medicine meeting that is designed to take on the mid-tier variable-angle segment. The new system, called MagiCam, is the first product to emerge from the nuclear medicine joint venture between Elscint and GE Medical Systems.

Elscint and GE announced earlier this year that they were forming a joint venture, called ELGEMS, to take over R&D and manufacturing of gamma cameras and other nuclear medicine technology formerly produced independently by each vendor (SCAN 2/19/97). The impetus for the merger was the difficulty that each firm was having in maintaining adequate levels of profitability in the nuclear medicine market.

The first mission of ELGEMS has been to examine the various technologies of Elscint and GE and find ways that they can be combined into new systems. MagiCam is a product of that effort, according to Richard Brown, marketing manager at Elscint's U.S. subsidiary in Hackensack, NJ.

MagiCam is built on the gantry GE designed for its variable-angle dual-head Millennium MG gamma camera, which was unveiled at last year's SNM conference in Denver (SCAN 6/19/96). Rather than using GE's DigitalCSE detectors, however, MagiCam employs Elscint's XP digital detectors, the same ones found on Elscint's premium VariCam variable-angle system. The companies found that while the performance specifications of each firm's detectors were roughly similar, the XP detectors were considerably cheaper to produce, Brown said.

MagiCam will have the same range of options found on the more expensive VariCam, such as Elscint's CoDe coincidence detection technique, but will not have the same level of performance, according to Brown. For example, MagiCam will probably not be able to carry collimators as heavy as those that VariCam can employ, which could be a factor in the image quality of techniques such as collimated singles detection.

"You will be able to do singles detection, but you won't get as good a quality of collimators," Brown said.

Elscint has not yet determined a pricing structure for MagiCam, which will be manufactured by ELGEMS and provided to Elscint and GE for independent sales by each firm. GE has not released its name for the hybrid GE/Elscint camera; it could still carry the Millennium MG brand in GE's price book, although GE will probably make a few Millennium MG systems with the DigitalCSE detectors until its nuclear medicine manufacturing capacity is moved from Milwaukee to ELGEMS in early 1998. ELGEMS will not make MagiCam systems with the DigitalCSE detectors.

Progress on the joint venture is moving along, Brown said. ELGEMS has begun operations at its own facility in Haifa, and former Elscint nuclear medicine veteran Nathan Hermony has been named COO of the company. Under the terms of the joint-venture agreement, Elscint names the firm's COO while GE taps its CFO, Brown said. Israel Ohana has taken over Hermony's position as head of Elscint's nuclear medicine unit.

Elscint plans to begin sales of MagiCam in the fourth quarter. The system does not require 510(k) clearance because its components are covered under clearances granted to GE and Elscint gamma cameras, Brown said.

In other Elscint SNM news, the company plans to show a new iterative reconstruction algorithm for its CoDe technique that more closely approximates algorithms used in PET imaging, which should result in better image quality, Brown said. Elscint will also show clinical trials comparing the use of 3/8-inch crystals and 5/8-inch crystals for both high-energy and low-energy imaging.

Elscint will also show a new collimator designed for dual-isotope single-acquisition (DISA) studies, in which both fluorodeoxyglucose and technetium are imaged at the same time.

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