Film captures ultrasound motion

June 19, 1991

Ultrasound has lagged behind other medical imaging modalitiesin finding remote teleradiology applications. A major reason forthis delay is the difficulty of capturing and transmitting dynamicultrasound images, said Cheryl Snyder, president of Image

Ultrasound has lagged behind other medical imaging modalitiesin finding remote teleradiology applications. A major reason forthis delay is the difficulty of capturing and transmitting dynamicultrasound images, said Cheryl Snyder, president of Image TransferTechnologies of Princeton, NJ.

"The technology has only now reached the point where itcan handle the full motion aspect of ultrasound," she said.

Snyder's start-up firm spent two years developing VideoFax,a PC-based motion capture and transmission system for ultrasound.Ultimately, Image Transfer Technologies hopes to sell the systemthrough OEM ultrasound vendors. No vendor has taken the bite sincethe system was introduced at the Radiological Society of NorthAmerica meeting in December, however.

The firm has hired Ultrasound Technological Brokerage of Horsham,PA, (SCAN 2/14/90) to hunt for partners among most of the majorultrasound vendors. In the meantime, it is selling VideoFax directto users to establish a clinical track record, Snyder said.

Much of the initial clinical interest has been in the cardiologyfield, she said.

"We discovered that pediatric cardiologists are hardto come by, so they are the users with the most immediate needfor this (remote) technology," Snyder said.

Image Transfer Technologies is installing its first VideoFaxsystems in two Florida hospitals this month. Another two are duefor July installation in North Carolina, she said.

VideoFax uses video frame-grabbing technology that digitizes30 ultrasound frames per second and compresses and transmits thedigital data over standard phone lines. The two major componentsof the system are a capture/transmit unit, priced at about $20,000,and a receiver/review unit, priced at $16,500.

The VideoFax technology is an advance over cine-loop systems,which play back only a sampling of frames, Snyder said. Otherframe grabbers may claim to work at 30 frames a second, but actuallyre-create secondary frames by changing only the motion element,she said.

"With our technology, each frame is captured and compressed.That makes a difference in image quality," Snyder said.

Compression does lower the ultrasound resolution, she acknowledged.Many physicians are satisfied, however, with VHS quality imagesthat can be transmitted digitally and inexpensively.