Holographic scanner stirs interest

March 13, 1991

Advanced Imaging Systems has hired Medical Technology Enterprisesof San Diego to help guide its ultrasound holography system tomarket by year's end. AIS of Richland, WA, controls basic patentsin holographic ultrasound, a technology that has been under

Advanced Imaging Systems has hired Medical Technology Enterprisesof San Diego to help guide its ultrasound holography system tomarket by year's end. AIS of Richland, WA, controls basic patentsin holographic ultrasound, a technology that has been under developmentfor over a decade (SCAN 3/14/90).

AIS presented a prototype holographic scanner at the 1990 RadiologicalSociety of North America conference and again at the AmericanInstitute of Ultrasound in Medicine meeting in Atlanta last month.John C. Homan, president of MTE, was attracted to this uniquetechnology at the RSNA meeting and signed a consulting contractwith the firm shortly thereafter, he told SCAN.

A number of clinical researchers also expressed interest inthe device at the RSNA exhibit, Homan said. MTE's first task willbe to help select the most appropriate clinical testing sitesfor holographic system. AIS should be shipping units to five betasites within 30 to 45 days. MTE will examine the results of thisclinical testing to target markets for AIS and help choose themost appropriate product launch and distribution strategies, hesaid.

Homan, former vice president of marketing at Applied SuperConetics,left the magnet supplier to form his own consulting firm priorto Toshiba's acquisition of controlling interest in ASC last year.Another MTE consultant working on the AIS account is Dick Hollihan,former vice president of sales and service for Picker International.Homan is also a former Picker executive.

MTE specializes in bringing new medical technologies to market.The firm has, for instance, helped set up a supply arrangementbetween Dynamic Digital Displays, a three-dimensional workstationfirm, and Shimadzu, Homan said.

The work for AIS will involve exploring OEM as well as distributionarrangements. Talks are already under way with several OEMs, Homansaid.

"We have been in the industry long enough to look at those(marketing) options objectively. Dealers might make sense in acertain part of the country, but it might be better to sell directelsewhere. We will also look at how to roll the product out successfully:which markets are going to lead the technology and which are not,"he said.

ULTRASOUND HOLOGRAPHY SENDS an unfocused wave through a patient,which forms a real-time cine holographic image on videotape. Thisdiagnostic modality is distinct from standard reflective ultrasoundin both the method of image acquisition and the types of diagnosticinformation acquired, said George F. Garlick, AIS chairman.

Since a through transmission is required, certain types ofimaging cannot be performed by holography. The method cannot beused to image the heart, for example, because the lungs wouldblock the ultrasound wave from passing completely through thebody. On the other hand, holography may provide new diagnosticinformation in applications such as breast and extremity imaging,Garlick said.

"There are many tubular structures in the forearm, soit is difficult or impossible to make a diagnosis of the forearmusing (reflective) ultrasound. When you put in a through transmission,it (the forearm) is just like a bird cage. You can roll aroundand focus on any one of those segments," he said.

The holographic ultrasound scanner will sell for a price comparableto that of reflective scanners. One reason the price can be keptdown is that holography does not require the complex electronicsused in standard ultrasound imaging, Garlick said.

"The power of holography is that it allows one wave andanother to interfere and then reads this out directly, ratherthan using a computer to make an electronic representation ofthe image. The image processor is a hologram, not a computer,"he said.

BRIEFLY NOTED:

  • Trionix installed about 45 of its Triad and Biad multidetectorSPECT systems worldwide in 1990, according to president Chun BinLim. In a letter sent to potential customers this month, Chunsaid the Trionix installed base grew from 15 systems to over 60in 1990. The Trionix work force also increased, from 45 to 100people. The nuclear medicine manufacturer completed constructionof a 150,000 square-foot headquarters facility in Twinsburg, OH,this month.

Trionix used the letter to announce a discount offer on bothSPECT systems that is good through April. The company is offeringprospective customers $25,000 off the regular $450,000 price foreach system. It is also throwing in a medium-energy collimatorand physicians' review station for no additional cost, said KentD. Klodnick, product marketing manager.