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Industry News: Hitachi plays the comfort card in ultrasound and MR


Friendly technology for operators and patients is Hitachi Medical’s theme during the European Congress.

Friendly technology for operators and patients is Hitachi Medical's theme during the European Congress. The Japanese company is highlighting an ergonomically optimized ultrasound system, the HI Vision Preirus, making its first trade show appearance at ECR; the company's 1.2T open MR scanner, Oasis, slated for its first European installation in August; and advanced techniques shown by Hitachi in prototype years ago, but now enhanced or clinically validated. 

At a press conference hours before the exhibit floor opened, Hitachi touted the flexibility and comfort of its new Preirus. Its novel design allows the console and LCD display to be adjusted to suit the position of the operator along an arc across the front of the scanner.

"We say let the system do the twisting and turning," said Ellison Bibby, European product manager for Hitachi radiology ultrasound.

The software-driven system leverages advanced broadband beamforming technology and new single-crystal transducers. "Smart Touch" keys on the control panel allow parameters to be adjusted by touching the display. The Patient Specific Selector that enables the operator to customize examinations, as well as save and recall results.

Heightening the value of the Preirus are existing technologies: HI-RTE (Hitachi Real-Time Tissue Elastography), which Bibby framed as the means for differentiating cancerous from healthy tissue by gauging tissue elasticity, and Real-time Virtual sonography for fusing real-time ultrasound scans with data previously obtained using CT, MR or ultrasound.

The 1.2T Oasis is old hat to the U.S. market, where some 30 installations are already in place. It's new to Europe, however, where Hitachi is now assembling the support staff to do installations and training. Sites in Germany, France, the U.K., and Spain are slated for installation in 2009. The company expects dozens more in 2010, as it pitches the scanner as the most powerful – and patient-friendly – open MRI on the planet. Integral to this pitch is the ability of oasis to handle big or tall patients who cannot fit in a cylindrical system, as well as the flexibility to do functional joint imaging or interventions at high field.

The Oasis is the latest result of Hitachi's efforts at open MR, but they may not be the last, according to Jan Reijnen, marketing/product manager for Hitachi MR/CT. Rather than developing products at 3T as competitors have done, the company is working on higher field strengths in open configurations. Reijnen specifically noted work at 1.7T and 2T, but made no claims regarding future products at these field strengths.

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