Lorad's parent aids digital effort

September 8, 1993

A technological jump-start from its parent company has aided Lorad'squest to develop a digital mammography system capable of full-viewbreast imaging. Lorad plans to show images from a prototype systemat this year's Radiological Society of North America

A technological jump-start from its parent company has aided Lorad'squest to develop a digital mammography system capable of full-viewbreast imaging. Lorad plans to show images from a prototype systemat this year's Radiological Society of North America meeting asa works-in-progress. The Danbury, CT-based company should havea product on the market by next year, according to president HalKirshner.

Existing digital mammography systems sold by Lorad and competitorFischer Imaging are limited by their 50 x 50-mm fields-of-view.While these specifications are adequate for guiding interventionalprocedures like needle biopsy, they fall short when it comes toscreening, which requires a view of the entire breast.

Mammographers have also debated the utility of digital mammographyscreening because of doubts that the dynamic range and resolutionof CRT monitors are not adequate to detect early-stage malignancies.Lorad claims to have made a technological advance that will resolvethese doubts, however.

The breakthrough was made by engineers at Lorad's parent company,ThermoTrex of San Diego, CA. ThermoTrex, the research arm of high-technologyconglomerate Thermo Electron, acquired Lorad last year (SCAN 10/7/92).

"We got a breakthrough early because of the tremendousbackground that those folks have," Kirshner said. "Idon't think we would have had it this early (without ThermoTrex)."

Kirshner would not disclose the nature of the advance, butdid say that it involves pairing the charge-coupled device (CCD)camera in Lorad's DSM system with display monitor technology capableof visualizing a wide field-of-view.

Digital screening should offer a number of benefits for mammographersand patients. Digital technology allows mammography proceduresto be viewed almost as soon as they are conducted, which increasespatient throughput and lowers radiation dosage, according to Lorad.

One more hurdle remains, however: getting the price of a digitalsystem low enough to make screening patients at low reimbursementlevels profitable. Lorad hopes to bring its full-view digitalsystem to market in the $200,000 range.

"This is expensive technology, but we believe the benefitsof real time, of seeing things you can't see with film, of lowerradiation dosage, and the ability to detect a cancer in its earliestpossible stage, will justify the additional cost," Kirshnersaid.