Hitachi expands MRI line with high-field unit

November 20, 1991

Hitachi will introduce a full line of high- and mid-field MRIsystems into the U.S. next year. The move builds on the Japanesevendor's success in marketing permanent-magnet systems to Americanclinicians over the past two years. Hitachi Medical Systems

Hitachi will introduce a full line of high- and mid-field MRIsystems into the U.S. next year. The move builds on the Japanesevendor's success in marketing permanent-magnet systems to Americanclinicians over the past two years.

Hitachi Medical Systems America of Twinsburg, OH, will showboth 1.5-tesla and 0.5-tesla superconducting MRI systems as works-in-progressat the Radiological Society of North America conference next month,said Richard L. Ernst, president of the firm's MRI division.

Food and Drug Administration 510(k) applications for both systemswill be filed by early next year. HMSA is a 75%/25% joint venturebetween Hitachi and Summit Medical of Hudson, OH.

"We still feel very strongly about the permanent-magnettechnology," Ernst told SCAN. "But the 1.5-tesla segmentis important and will continue to exist. Probably 35% to 40% ofthe U.S. MRI market is high field. We want to partake in it. Wewill offer a system for everyone."

Although Hitachi has been selling a 0.5-tesla superconductiveMRI system in Japan for longer than it has been selling permanentmagnets, the mid-field scanner coming to the U.S. is based onnew computer and magnet technology, as is the high-field system.Introduction of both units will take place simultaneously in Japanand the U.S., Ernst said.

By offering a high-field MRI system, Hitachi will be able toplay in the premium end of the market. Those users are interestedin such capabilities as fast echo-planar imaging (EPI) and spectroscopy.Both features will be developed for the new scanner, althoughthey will not be part of the initial FDA application, accordingto Sheldon Schafer, director of marketing.

HMSA will continue to upgrade both the 0.2-tesla and 0.3-teslaversions of its MRP permanent magnet system, Schafer said. Thevendor will show new quadrature coils, a fast scanning package,and multiplanar reconstruction on these systems at the RSNA show.The vendor expects to have 80 permanent-magnet units installedin the U.S. at the time of the conference, Ernst said.

The 1.5-tesla MRH 1500 uses an active-shielded magnet developedby Hitachi, while the mid-field MRH 500 is passively shielded.The high-field unit will have compact electronics, enabling itto site in 650 square feet, he said.

HMSA will expand its sales and service organization over thenext year to support the two new products as well as growth inpermanent magnet sales, Ernst said.

BRIEFLY NOTED:

  • Stardent Computer, a supplier of supercomputer technologyfor Picker International's nuclear medicine and MRI product lines,announced this month that it is going out of business. Picker,however, will continue to receive the Titan computer platformfrom its original manufacturer, Kubota of Japan. Kubota PacificComputers of Santa Clara, CA, will take over U.S. distributionand service of the Titan line from Stardent, Picker said.

  • American Shared Hospital Services of San Francisco signeda letter of intent last week to sell its respiratory therapy businessto Alliance Home Care Management of Walnut Creek, CA. The businesswill sell for about $8.5 million, including $1.3 million in assumedliabilities, ASHS said.

ASHS is concentrating its resources on the firm's core diagnosticimaging shared service business, said chairman Ernest A. Bates.