Europeans take to inexpensive 3-D

July 28, 1993

Dutch software developer Applicare of Alphen aan den Rijn initiatedsales this year of an inexpensive RISC-based medical imaging workstationwith two- and three-dimensional reconstruction capabilities. Clinicaldemand in Europe comes from both high-volume

Dutch software developer Applicare of Alphen aan den Rijn initiatedsales this year of an inexpensive RISC-based medical imaging workstationwith two- and three-dimensional reconstruction capabilities. Clinicaldemand in Europe comes from both high-volume users seeking fasterthroughput and academic radiologists interested in the workstation'soff-line 3-D volume-rendering capabilities, said Ruud Kroon, anApplicare partner.

Applicare first introduced its $25,000 C3D workstation atthe Radiological Society of North America conference last year.At the time, the company was interested in approaching the U.S.market and scouting for corporate partners.

This year, however, Applicare decided to firm up its Europeanbase and possibly approach Asian markets first before trying toenter the U.S. through an OEM relationship. The firm hopes toenter the U.S. next year.

"European and Asian markets are within better reach ofour company at this time," Kroon told SCAN. "The price/performance(of the C3D workstation) has also raised interest in the EasternEuropean market."

Applicare positions the C3D as a low-cost personal workstationfor physicians. The unit can serve as an extra console for olderCT installations, boosting efficiency and diagnostic performance,or serve as a remote imaging workstation for radiologists andother physicians.

Belgian radiologists have found that the system's 2-D reconstructionof coronal, sagittal and transverse MRI views helps save proceduretime by enabling them to scan in only one direction, Kroon said.

In other countries where patient load is not as important,physicians pay greater attention to 3-D reconstruction features,such as a "filming" option that automatically reconstructsimage sequences and plays them back interactively, using mousecontrol.

Applicare has initiated sales of the workstation this yearin Holland, Belgium, England and Switzerland. The firm is seekingdistributors in France and Germany, he said.

The C3D system uses the Archimedes computer developed by Acornof the U.K. Founded originally by Cambridge University scientists,Acorn was subsequently purchased by the Italian electronics giantOlivetti. The backing of a company as large as Olivetti providessubstantial support resources for the workstation product, Kroonsaid.

One limitation of the Archimedes computer is its internal memoryof 16 megabytes, which means compression and other techniquesmust be used to expand the size of image data sets that can behandled by the medical workstation. An upgrade to the computerdue next year will increase internal memory to 64 megabytes, hesaid.

BRIEFLY NOTED:

  • Elscint and Sopha settled a patent dispute over gammacamera technology this month. Elscint, of Hackensack, NJ, filedthe case in 1991, charging Columbia, MD-based Sopha Medical Systemsand its French parent Sopha Medical S.A. with infringing on sevennuclear medicine patents (SCAN 2/27/91).

The settlement will net Elscint $7.75 million in payments fromSopha this year and next, according to information released bythe former's parent company, Elscint Ltd. of Haifa. Both companieswill continue to manufacture, sell and service nuclear medicineequipment independently, although the two may cooperate in areasoutside this imaging modality.

While no mention was made of potential areas of cooperation,Sopha has been trying to break into the MRI market, an area inwhich Elscint has extensive experience and technical expertise.