Instrumentarium targets fall start for MRI push

August 28, 1991

Instrumentarium Imaging plans to begin active sales of its 0.1-teslaMega-4 MRI system in the U.S. this fall. The Finnish medical imagingvendor is now hiring MRI sales representatives, said Michael A.Silver, MRI director at Instrumentarium Imaging in

Instrumentarium Imaging plans to begin active sales of its 0.1-teslaMega-4 MRI system in the U.S. this fall. The Finnish medical imagingvendor is now hiring MRI sales representatives, said Michael A.Silver, MRI director at Instrumentarium Imaging in Milwaukee.

Mega-4 is operating at one U.S. clinical site at the Universityof Chicago, said Robert D. Gylling, head of MRI in Helsinki. Althoughthe MRI system was introduced to the U.S. a year ago (SCAN 10/24/90),Instrumentarium first focused on developing low-field MRI technologyin cooperation with the University of Chicago.

"We showed the (Mega-4) product for the first time atthe (1990) RSNA meeting and have had a clinical site running fornine months. We are ready to push the button when the fall seasonstarts," Gylling told SCAN.

The sales focus for Mega-4 will be different from Instrumentarium'sattempts to target trauma settings with its ultra-low-field predecessorsix years ago, Silver said. The vendor is working alone and withNycomed, a Norwegian contrast firm, in developing advanced low-fieldtechnology (SCAN 2/13/91).

The Nycomed effort involves what is called Overhauser MRI (OMRI),which requires the use of an electronic paramagnetic contrastagent in conjunction with an ultra-low MRI system.

Instrumentarium is also working on a low-field technique calledmagnetization transfer (MT) imaging. MT was the subject of severalsessions at the Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine conferencein San Francisco this month, Silver said.

"Our product is different from other low-field productsin that it has features that are very attractive to universityresearchers," Silver said.

Instrumentarium hopes that the combination of leading-edgetechnology and low-cost, low-field imaging will strike a chordin the U.S. market. Safe-harbor rules restricting referring-physicianownership of imaging centers may give an added boost to low-fieldsales. Prospective MRI customers are interested in systems thatrequire fewer patients to make money, he said.

"They (MRI service providers) feel more comfortable nothaving a finger pointed at them saying that they may be (scanning)patients who perhaps don't need to be examined," he said.

Instrumentarium has reorganized its worldwide management structureover the last year to focus on the diverse mammography and MRIimaging markets, Gylling said. Silver and vice president Ed WardBarker head up the MRI and mammography businesses respectivelyin the U.S. Folke Lindberg, in charge of the mammography businessin Helsinki, is also president of the U.S. company.

"The synergies between marketing mammography and marketingMRI are not as great as we thought," Gylling said. A directsales force will sell MRI in the U.S., while a combination ofsales representatives and dealers will be employed for mammographysales, he said.

Instrumentarium has created a captive-finance organizationin the U.S. to help support the acceleration of MRI sales as wellas the continuing mammography business, Silver said.

The unit, called Instrumentarium Finance, will give the vendormore options in structuring purchases for users, he said. In contrastto most imaging vendors, Instrumentarium will not only providethe financing but also maintain control of the debt paper.

"We can offer customers greater flexibility for upgrades,and if necessary, modify the terms of financing as conditionspermit," Silver said.