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EMED takes aim at digital x-ray uses with 8-megapixel MegaScan monitors


EMED takes aim at digital x-ray uses with 8-megapixel MegaScan monitorsCompany hopes displays become viewing gold standardPACS firm EMED of San Antonio is preparing for the digital x-ray revolution. The San Antonio company has begun

EMED takes aim at digital x-ray uses with 8-megapixel MegaScan monitors

Company hopes displays become viewing gold standard

PACS firm EMED of San Antonio is preparing for the digital x-ray revolution. The San Antonio company has begun shipments of MegaScan MD8, an 8-megapixel monitor designed to support the higher resolutions possible with digital detector-based x-ray systems. While digital x-ray is the first application for the monitors, EMED hopes the displays will become the monitor of choice for all demanding diagnostic environments.

Up to now, monitors with 2K x 2.5K (5-megapixel) resolution have been considered the standard for diagnostic viewing of images produced with computed radiography or scanned x-ray film. Such resolutions may not be enough for the new digital detector x-ray systems coming to market, however. For example, Sterling Diagnostic Imaging's DirectRay systems produce images in a matrix larger than 2K x 2.5K, according to executives with the Greenville, SC, company.

To give radiologists access to all the information in a digital radiography scan, EMED several years ago began working on developing 8-megapixel monitors, according to EMED president Ronald Ford. The company had to overcome a number of technical challenges, however, such as the bandwidth of the display's amplifier and the amount of heat given off by display circuitry running at frequencies as high as 233 KHz horizontal scan. Several patents on display technology enabled EMED to solve the problems, Ford said.

EMED also got a boost from display card developer Dome Imaging Systems of Waltham, MA, which developed the MD8/PCI imaging board especially for 8-megapixel monitors. EMED and Dome worked together in matching the video controller to EMED's monitor.

"The Dome board was critical," Ford said. "That is a piece of technology we depend on others to supply, and we had to have Dome's success in that."

In addition to the 2.5K x 3.2K matrix, the MD8 displays feature luminance uniformity correction circuitry that reduces luminance variances across a multihead workstation to below 20%, the industry standard. In addition, the monitor's linearity correction of 3% or less allows a more uniform image display from top to bottom, according to the company.

EMED has already begun shipping monitors, which were displayed in the booths of Swissray International, Sterling, and Imnet Systems at last year's Radiological Society of North America meeting. EMED has not yet set a list price on the monitors, but the company expects them to sell for less than $12,000. EMED's 2K x 2.5K monitors sell for between $5000 and $7000 depending on the quantity ordered. The company will supply the monitors to its OEMs, as well as use them in PACS installations sold by both EMED and marketing partner Swissray International of New York City.

Sterling executives agree that a higher resolution monitor will probably be necessary for images produced by DirectRay exams. Sterling plans to offer a high-resolution display on workstations accompanying its iiRad digital x-ray systems, although the company has not yet determined whether it will use the EMED monitors or those from another company.

"We want to match the output from iiRad and DR without having to magnify the image," said Bill Ward, director of global marketing for Sterling. "We will have a higher end video display for people who are using iiRad."

The MD8 monitors would probably be used selectively in hospitals, and in dedicated applications such as viewing digital radiography or computed radiography images. Lower resolution 1K x 1K monitors will continue to be used for MRI and CT scans, while 2K x 2.5K monitors will be used for scanned film images, Ford said. EMED would not object, however, if 8-megapixel displays became the gold standard for high-resolution diagnostic viewing.

"My feeling is that if the high-resolution information is available, the doctors will want it," Ford said. "It becomes a cost-feature tradeoff, and since the cost of this monitor is not going to be substantially higher than our current high-end monitors, (doctors) will opt for the higher performance."

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