A flurry of ultrasound systems, from high end to handheld miniatures, arrived on the RSNA exhibit floor, allaying fears that the massive consolidations since the late 1990s would affect the diversity and quality of products. There was the usual fare of
A flurry of ultrasound systems, from high end to handheld miniatures, arrived on the RSNA exhibit floor, allaying fears that the massive consolidations since the late 1990s would affect the diversity and quality of products. There was the usual fare of upgrades and enhancements, along with a few mid- and low-tier offerings. Standouts, however, were products exhibiting volumetric reconstructions.
Some reflected past years' machinations, bearing labels such as "real-time 3D" or "4D" because volumetric data, once acquired and reformatted, could be postprocessed interactively. But, remarkably, others promised instantaneous acquisition and display. The clinical benefit of these systems may be hard to predict, as relatively few diagnostic applications for 3D reconstructions have been documented. But the arrival of systems that provide true real-time 3D imaging will almost certainly have an impact on the way ultrasound is practiced.
Advanced Imaging Technologies
Aiming to advance further into niche markets, AIT showed its Avera breast imaging technology, which relies on the diffractive rather than reflective properties of sound to gather boundary and tissue information. The dedicated breast imaging system, introduced at the 2001 RSNA meeting, permits rapid assessment of breast tissue without compression or ionizing radiation.
A longtime provider of value-oriented ob/gyn equipment, Aloka has been expanding its product offerings in recent years to reach new clinical applications.
GE Medical Systems
Once a provider of only specialty ob/gyn systems, GE has evolved over the past decade into a leading vendor of ultrasound equipment at all performance levels. Volumetric imaging continues to play a central role in its marketing efforts, as the company showcased its Voluson product line, whose core technology was obtained as part of the 2001 acquisition of Kretztechnik. GE also extended its Logiq line of products with two lower tier offerings. (Premium and high-performance offerings, the Logiq 9 and 7, were introduced in 2001.)
Hitachi Medical Systems America
The full line of EUB ultrasound systems was displayed by Hitachi, including its high-performance EUB-6500. The system combines premium image quality, a wide array of probes, improved operator ergonomics, and portability to offer a broad and diverse range of clinical applicability.
Despite financial woes caused largely by dot-com investments that went bad, Korea-based Medison continued its tradition as an innovator in 3D ultrasound with the launch of a new flagship volumetric product. This system was buoyed by a high-performance portable product.
Philips Medical Systems
R&D initiatives by one-time independent vendors ATL and Agilent (a.k.a. Hewlett-Packard) have been united under the Philips ultrasound banner. The company continues to upgrade HDI and Sonos product lines with internally derived technologies, as well as some drawn from outside R&D.
Following a tradition of providing value-oriented imaging technologies, Shimadzu showed enhancements to both of its digital color Doppler products: SDU-2200 for general-purpose imaging and SDU 1200 for abdominal, pelvic, fetal, urological, and vascular imaging.
Siemens Medical Solutions
By combining its R&D talents with those of Acuson, Siemens has become one of the world's largest and most innovative developers of ultrasound equipment. Its claim to the development of leading-edge technology was exemplified by this year's introduction of a true real-time volumetric scanner.
Underscoring its commitment to portability, SonoSite showed its iLook system, which weighs less than 3 pounds. Two models were displayed.
Toshiba America Medical Systems
As part of a renewed effort to increase market share in the U.S., Toshiba has added both sales and marketing staff to its ultrasound division. The company has continued to develop its technology, particularly on its premium Aplio.