IS2 targets outpatient market with compact gamma camera

July 30, 2004

Rotating back from a sitting position, the chair becomes a table, then slides the patient through a transparent gautry traversed by twin detectors angled 90¼ above the heart. This is the Pulse CDC (compact digital camera), the latest gamma camera from

Rotating back from a sitting position, the chair becomes a table, then slides the patient through a transparent gautry traversed by twin detectors angled 90¼ above the heart. This is the Pulse CDC (compact digital camera), the latest gamma camera from IS2, which was showcased at the Society of Nuclear Medicine meeting in June.

The compact camera, which is optimized for office cardiology practices, fits easily into a 7 x 10-foot room and plugs into any standard wall outlet with 110 volts and 15 amps. Yet it delivers the best physical specifications of any gamma camera on the market, according to Dr. Malcolm Powell, physician turned entrepreneur and founder of IS2. The Pulse sports an intrinsic spatial resolution of 3 mm (full-width half-maximum), a standard measure defined as the width of an object in a picture, and intrinsic energy resolution of 9% utilizing Tc-99m.

"The specifications indicate that we see a slightly better image," Powell said. "It provides better depth resolution and spatial resolution."

The Pulse is the latest high-performance gamma camera developed by IS2 of Ottawa, Ontario. The company boasts that one of its founders, Iain Stark, designed a camera with intrinsic spatial resolution of 3.5 mm nearly two decades ago. Back then, the competition had resolutions between 4.5 and 5.5 mm. Few manufacturers have yet to achieves a similar capability, but IS2 has continued to evolve its technology, publishing specs of 3-mm spatial resolution for its family of gamma cameras and shipping at least some cameras at 2.8 mm, according to the company.

Image quality is only one selling point of the Pulse. The company predicts 99.94% average camera uptime. Reliability is enhanced by an all-digital architecture that fits individual analog-to-digital converters to each photomultiplier tube and integrates the electronics for data acquisition and processing into the detectors.

Digitizing and processing the signal at the source increases stability and reduces noise, Powell said. It also reduces the cabling coming out of the detector, allowing the use of a simple slip ring technology to propel the 15 x 10.2-inch detectors. The slip ring uses the same gears and motors found on surveillance cameras that glide back and forth keeping watch over parking lots and the exteriors of commercial buildings.

The Pulse, which lists for $220,000, was first shown at the American College of Cardiology meeting in March and began shipping in June, around the time of the SNM meeting. IS2 has its own small direct sales force but depends heavily on distributors, some of which stock IS2 cameras rather than just ordering and then delivering them.

Most orders for the new camera are coming from cardiology offices and outpatient clinics, although some are from hospitals, Powell said. Typically, these hospitals are pressed for space but need additional scanning capability to handle an increasing volume of cardiac patients.

In designing the camera, IS2 emphasized simplicity, ease of use, flexibility, and patient comfort. In a pinch, the compact camera can squeeze into a 6 x 9-foot room yet can handle patients up to 6 foot, 6 inches tall. The bed has a 450-pound capacity with arm rests on each side and a sound system with speakers built into the gantry for patient comfort. The 29-pound collimators are designed for easy changes, making quality-control procedures simple and straightforward, according to the company.

Although the Pulse was designed specifically for cardiologic applications, minor adjustments expand its repertoire to include brain, thyroid, and even peripheral joint imaging. These upgrades extend the range of the table through the gantry so the detectors can reach the various body areas.

"You can do knees, wrists, hands, as well as heart, brain, and thyroid," Powell said. "The computers in the heads have all the programming to acquire and process any of these images."