Fuji raises CR ante with phosphor upgrade

February 2, 1994

Fuji Medical Systems has long been the dominant player in thecomputed radiography market due to its strong patent positionin phosphor-based CR. Competition began to heat up last year,however, when Philips Medical Systems unveiled its

Fuji Medical Systems has long been the dominant player in thecomputed radiography market due to its strong patent positionin phosphor-based CR. Competition began to heat up last year,however, when Philips Medical Systems unveiled its selenium-basedThoraVision CR system at the European Congress of Radiology meetingin Vienna (SCAN 9/22/93).

At last year's Radiological Society of North America meeting,Fuji rose to Philips' challenge by unveiling a new CR reader designedto improve both image quality and throughput. The system, FCR-9000,features a new technology called dynamic range control (DRC) thatshould allow physicians to see both bone and soft tissue on asingle CR image, according to the company.

Fuji, of Stamford, CT, will market the system as a workhorseCR reader and is hoping the system will lead to wider clinicalacceptance of computed radiography. FCR-9000 uses fifth-generationCR plates, with a smaller phosphor particle size, a greater phosphorparticle packing density and a thinner protective layer. The newplates reduce the dispersion of light within the phosphor platewhen the plate is read, reducing noise and improving sensitivityand specificity.

A major feature of FCR-9000 is a big boost in plate processingspeed. The system can process 125 imaging plates per hour, comparedto 70 per hour for the previous generation reader, FCR-7000, whichFuji marketed through OEMs. ThoraVision processes 60 exposuresper hour.

Fuji is touting DRC as a major technological innovation. DRCuses a locally adaptive histogram equalization algorithm to improvevisualization of either dense structures or soft tissue, dependingon what is being imaged. After core structures are examined, DRCeither expands gray-scale values for soft tissue or compressesgray-scale values for dense structures, depending on the user'spreference. The images are then recombined with the original informationto give users the best of both worlds, according to John Strauss,national CR marketing manager.

"DRC is an image processing tool that allows visualizationin the dense areas without affecting the presentation of the softertissues," Strauss said. "For extremity imaging, youwant to have both visualization of the bone and the soft tissueto see what damage may occur to the soft tissue that surroundsa fracture. DRC can do that."

DRC will be able to be retrofitted onto existing Fuji CR systems,according to Strauss. DRC is being tested at the two FCR-9000beta sites.

Fuji filed for Food and Drug Administration 510(k) marketingclearance for FCR-9000 in November. List price for the systemwill be $325,000.

FCR-9000 can be networked through Fuji's radiology acquisitionand communications systems (RACS) concept, Fuji's proprietarysub-PACS system for radiography (SCAN 1/30/91). The vendor canprovide an output from RACS to ACR-NEMA's DICOM 3.0 standard.

Fuji also introduced a number of other new products at theRSNA meeting. The vendor updated its line of compact CR readerswith the introduction of AC-3. AC-3 processes 70 plates per hour,compared to 45 plates per hour for the AC-2. In addition, thelist price of AC-3 will be lower than that of its predecessor.AC-3 is pending FDA approval.

Another works-in-progress was Pictrography 3000 Digital ImagePrinter, a chemistry-free color laser printer developed by FujiPhoto Film and adapted for medical applications. The unit printson 8 1/2 x 11-inch sheets of film or paper and is intended towork in conjunction with Fuji's remote acquisition system (RAS)ultrasound image management product.

Fuji is positioning Pictrography 3000 as a step up from thermalprinters for sonographers making second prints for archiving andreferring physicians. The unit has a resolution of 400 dots persquare inch and can print 16.7 million shades of color. It willbe priced at $23,900.