Fischer to make Sterling digital units

On the eve of the RSNA meeting, x-ray vendor Fischer Imaging of Denver (Hall A, #2117) announced an agreement with Sterling Diagnostic Imaging of Greenville, SC, to manufacture complete x-ray systems using that company's DirectRay (formerly Direct

On the eve of the RSNA meeting, x-ray vendor Fischer Imaging of Denver (Hall A, #2117) announced an agreement with Sterling Diagnostic Imaging of Greenville, SC, to manufacture complete x-ray systems using that company's DirectRay (formerly Direct Radiography) technology. The deal is a major coup for Fischer, which has been trying to cement new OEM relationships to offset a dramatic drop in revenues this year.

Under the deal, the two companies will jointly develop digital x-ray systems that meld Sterling's amorphous selenium digital detectors with Fischer's x-ray systems. Fischer will manufacture complete systems at its Denver factory, and Sterling will sell the units under the iiRad brand name. Fischer will provide initial service support to Sterling and will also market systems under its own label.

The first system to be offered by the companies will most likely be a chest x-ray system, according to William Fee, vice president and chief accounting officer at Fischer. The systems are expected to be installed in North America in early 1998, according to the companies.

In addition, Fischer in its RSNA booth will demonstrate a work-in-progress digital version of its Traumex ceiling-suspended x-ray unit that uses a Sterling DirectRay detector, according to Anthony DeCarolis, vice president of sales and marketing. The Traumex unit will probably be sold by both Sterling and Fischer.

On the mammography side, Fischer will display its SenoScan dedicated full-field digital unit, as well as the latest clinical images collected with the system. Fischer will emphasize the advantages it believes its dedicated system has over other full-field products, most of which are being designed as detectors that can retrofit to mammography units in the field. SenoScan's charge-coupled device (CCD) slot-scanning architecture results in image resolution of 50 microns in standard mode and 25 microns in magnification mode, which the company believes will exceed the resolution of add-on systems, according to DeCarolis.

SenoScan is in clinical trials at three sites, which are collecting the data to be used in the filing of a 510(k) application that the company hopes to submit by the end of this year or in early 1998. Developments on SenoScan include new processing algorithms that result in better image quality for the system. Images collected with the new algorithms will be on display in Fischer's booth, and will illustrate the company's position that slot scanning is the best approach for full-field digital, DeCarolis said.

Fischer will also show enhancements to Mammotest Plus, its digital spot breast biopsy system. The company is working on enlarging the unit's field of view to a 5 x 10-cm window, which should help physicians place biopsy needles.