GE migrates high-end capabilities into lapsize ob/gyn portfolio

May 8, 2007

Features of high-end cart-based ob/gyn scanners officially trickled down to lapsize ultrasound systems this week when GE Healthcare launched its new ob/gyn portfolio at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists meeting in San Diego.

Features of high-end cart-based ob/gyn scanners officially trickled down to lapsize ultrasound systems this week when GE Healthcare launched its new ob/gyn portfolio at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists meeting in San Diego.

GE's new 11-pound Voluson e entered the company's portfolio, designed specifically for use in labor and delivery and in gynecological examinations, as well as in assisted reproductive technologies. Among its high-end features is 3D imaging designed specifically for ob/gyn applications.

"You can do a 3D sweep of the ovary to see the shape and size of the follicles, as well as get a follicle count," said Terri Bresenham, GE's vice president of diagnostic ultrasound and IT.

Meanwhile, the company bolstered the power of its midtier lapsize scanner - the Voluson i - with computer-aided diagnostics.

The trend toward packing more power into smaller packages has led to a three-tier hierarchy in the GE ultrasound portfolio. Standard cart-based systems are at the top tier. Specialized "console-quality" systems - designated with an i - occupy the middle tier. The compact series e products, at the bottom tier, provide specialized capabilities at value prices that may expand ultrasound's reach into new clinical areas.

The Premier Voluson E8, which GE is positioning as the next generation of sonography for women's healthcare, represents the top tier. The 256-channel scanner, launched last fall, is outfitted with advanced capabilities, including SonoVCAD (sonography-based volume computer-aided diagnosis), which streamlines volumetric image acquisition of the fetal heart, and an enhanced high-resolution 4D transvaginal probe.

GE migrated this CAD capability into its Voluson i, where it can automate the imaging process. Now an operator need only acquire the 3D data set and indicate the heart axis with the cursor to generate standardized views of the fetal heart.

Although the company's latest ultrasound system, the Voluson e, is the same size as the Voluson i, it does not share its performance. The Voluson e is intended, for more price-sensitive customers, such as single practitioners in an ob/gyn office, who may not require the advanced capabilities that clinicians such as perinatologists may need, Bresenham sai.

With the Voluson e, GE now has a scanner for almost every ob/gyn niche. Providing such choices is the cornerstone of GE's strategy for the ultrasound marketplace.

"We are building systems that have just the tools that are needed," Bresenham said.

This development of specialized systems will continue as long as evolving care patterns continue to generate demand, she said.