Kodak enters DR marketplace with launch of flat-panel systems

December 15, 1999

Vendor also adds low-cost system to CR portfolioSales of digital radiography systems employing flat-panel detectors have failed to meet lofty expectations due largely to their high price and market perception of an unproven technology. But

Vendor also adds low-cost system to CR portfolio

Sales of digital radiography systems employing flat-panel detectors have failed to meet lofty expectations due largely to their high price and market perception of an unproven technology. But that’s not stopping vendors from leaping into the market.

The latest to introduce a DR system is longtime computed radiography vendor Eastman Kodak, which, in a move designed to round out its portfolio of x-ray capture products, debuted a family of three systems employing amorphous selenium detector technology at the 1999 RSNA meeting. DR 5000 is a dedicated chest system, while DR 7000 is a retrofit product designed to allow hospitals take advantage of their existing x-ray equipment as they transition to digital capture. DR 9000 is a full-room system for general purpose radiology, targeted for customers installing new x-ray rooms or converting to fully digital environments.

Although final pricing has not yet been determined, DR 7000 will likely cost under $300,000. DR 5000 will probably range between $300,000 and $400,000, while DR 9000 is expected to cost between $400,000 and $500,000. Rochester, NY-based Kodak plans to begin installations of reference sites in the first quarter of 2000, with general availability targeted for late in the second quarter.

In concert with the product introductions, Kodak announced a strategic alliance with Analogic to define, develop, and manufacture digital radiography products. Analogic of Peabody, MA, will develop products for Kodak based on new technologies, as well as incorporate technology and components from other manufacturers, including Fischer Imaging and Analogic’s Anrad subsidiary, which has been developing amorphous selenium detectors. For the initial products, flat-panel detectors are being sourced from Hologic’s Direct Radiography Corp.

In preparation for the launch of the DR systems, Kodak is expanding its sales and customer support organizations to meet anticipated customer interest.

At previous RSNA meetings, Kodak has discussed its research into DR, and at the 1997 meeting, actually showed images acquired with a work-in-progress digital detector that used a gadolinium oxysulfide scintillation material and a thin-film transistor photodiode array (SCAN Special Report, December 1997). In the end, however, Kodak elected to proceed with systems developed in collaboration with Analogic.

Moving into the DR market does not mean Kodak is neglecting its traditional CR products. At the 1999 RSNA show, Kodak debuted two new CR systems, CR 800 and CR 900. Bolstering the low end of Kodak’s CR product line is CR 800, a single-cassette distributed CR system targeted for intensive care units, emergency rooms, and remote clinics. It can also be placed in x-ray exam rooms in the main radiology department, according to Kodak. With CR 800, technologists can read cassettes, process and view images, and then reprocess them if desired. A bar code reader for linking cassettes with patient studies is provided. CR 800 also allows images to be distributed over DICOM-compliant networks for soft-copy review, printing, and archiving, according to the vendor. The unit, which will have a list price of under $100,000, is expected to be available in April.

CR 900 supports all of the functions available on CR 800, and incorporates an autoloader capable of handling up to eight cassettes. Kodak believes the system is ideal for centralized CR processing installations where automatic cassette loading can greatly streamline workflow. CR 900 will have a list price of $150,000 to $175,000.

Kodak’s EVP software, which optimizes CR images by increasing latitude while preserving contrast and image detail, is available as an option for both CR 800 and CR 900. Kodak’s Remote Operations Panel, a new feature, supports distributed workflow by providing the capability to perform patient/cassette identification, image quality assurance, and image distribution functions remotely.