GE contributes two MRI scanners to windfall of new RSNA releases

December 28, 1994

Horizon is latest in high-field continuumGE shored up its offerings in MRI at this month's RadiologicalSociety of North America conference with new products at bothends of the field-strength spectrum. The Milwaukee vendor introducedSigna

Horizon is latest in high-field continuum

GE shored up its offerings in MRI at this month's RadiologicalSociety of North America conference with new products at bothends of the field-strength spectrum. The Milwaukee vendor introducedSigna Horizon, its latest high-field platform, and Signa Profile,its entry in the mainstream open-configuration market segment.

At last year's RSNA meeting, GE disclosed its work on Signa MRT,an open-configuration scanner in a "double-donut" designthat allows physicians to stand next to the patient while conductingimaging and therapy procedures (SCAN 11/17/93). GE pointed outthen that Signa MRT was primarily a research system dedicatedto image-guided surgical applications.

GE's positioning of MRT contrasted with that of Siemens' MagnetomOpen scanner, a system designed primarily for general medicalimaging procedures but with an interventional capability. Siemensbegan marketing Open this year (SCAN 4/6/94).

Several vendors, including Picker and Hitachi, responded to MagnetomOpen at this year's meeting with open-configuration scanners oftheir own (SCAN 11/23/94). GE's strategy was to introduce Profile,a work-in-progress 0.2-tesla permanent magnet for general medicalimaging applications that will cost less than $1 million.

Profile features a design that is open both in the front andback for easy patient access, with the magnet supported by columnson either side of the patient table. It sites in a CT suite andfeatures a very low operating cost, according to Jay Miller, AmericasMR marketing manager. The scanner is appropriate for bread-and-butterimaging applications such as head, spine, vascular and musculoskeletalimaging, he said.

GE is pressing forward with its Signa MRT effort and is beginningto place the scanner at beta sites. GE is asking research institutionswith which it is collaborating to contribute about $3 millionto cover the costs of the MRT program.

Interventional MRI developments on the MRT platform will be transferredto the rest of GE's Signa line if they improve the quality ofhealth care and reduce costs, according to Miller. GE is workingon using MRI with focused ultrasound to treat cancerous lesions,Miller said.

In the high-field segment, GE introduced Horizon, a superconductingsystem available in 1.5- and 1-tesla field strengths. GE has boostedthe strength of its gradient coils and widened the magnet boreto 60 cm, compared to 55 cm on Signa Advantage. Horizon also includesa digital phased-array radio-frequency subsystem with low-noisepreamplifiers designed to improve signal-to-noise ratio. GE hasapplied for 510(k) clearance of the system.

Users interested in fast scanning will be able to choose betweentwo gradient performance options: HiSpeed 77 and HiSpeed 230.Both offer actively shielded 23 millitesla/meter gradient coils,with HiSpeed 230 offering a faster rise time. Both packages allowusers to do fast-scanning protocols such as 3-D fast spin-echoas well as echoplanar imaging (EPI). The packages are nonresonantgradient design systems, in contrast to the resonant gradientsystem available on SR 100, the EPI package developed by AdvancedNMR with support from GE.

GE will phase out Signa Advantage when Horizon receives FDA clearance,according to Miller. In accordance with GE's upgrade continuum,Advantage customers will be able to migrate to Horizon by addingthe HiSpeed 77 or 230 packages. GE has released a budgetary priceof $150,000 for HiSpeed 77 and $250,000 for HiSpeed 230.

In other modalities at the RSNA meeting, GE unveiled a work-in-progressattenuation-correction protocol for its Optima 90º fixed-angledual-head gamma camera, as well as work-in-progress 511-keV imagingof F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose for the Maxxus opposable-angle dual-head.GE also debuted Genie Review, a PC-based image viewing and archivingworkstation designed to complement GE's Genie nuclear medicineimage processing platform.

GE is moving closer to marketing its SenoVision digital spotmammography device for the Senographe mammography unit. SenoVision,a work-in-progress, features a 6 x 6-cm field-of-view using charge-coupleddevice (CCD) and fiber-optics architecture. GE is also developinga full-field-of-view digital mammography product.