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Low-cost visualization runs on Mac

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Products from GE's integrated diagnostics PACS joint venture withIBM were shown as works-in-progress at the IBM booth adjacentto GE's space at the RSNA show. Within the GE booth, however,Evergreen Technologies, an independent PACS developer, tappedinto

Products from GE's integrated diagnostics PACS joint venture withIBM were shown as works-in-progress at the IBM booth adjacentto GE's space at the RSNA show. Within the GE booth, however,Evergreen Technologies, an independent PACS developer, tappedinto GE's nuclear equipment with a Macintosh-based image transmissionand processing software product selling for under $1000.

Evergreen of Gaithersburg, MD, began shipping its MedVisionModality Pak in October. The small software developer was formedin 1988 and developed MedVision over a two-year period. MedVisionhas been used and evaluated at the National Institutes of Healthfacility near the company's offices, said Jeffrey Siegel, presidentand CEO.

GE saw the product and took an interest in it, although noformal relationship between the two companies exists, Siegel toldSCAN.

"They (GE) evaluated it and were interested to the pointwhere they would allow us in their booth to show nuclear images.We are negotiating a further relationship," he said.

Medvision takes full 16-bit image data sets directly from theimaging equipment. Some images, such as those from positron emissiontomography scanners, have 16 bits depth of data. CT and MR imagesare 12 bit, while most teleradiology systems transmit eight bitsof data, Siegel said.

"Essentially what you have is a remote console—not aviewing station—with similar capabilities to the scanner console,"he said.

Evergreen has developed direct interfaces for GE CT, MR andnuclear equipment as well as Picker and Imatron CT systems andis working on others, he said. Images from different modalitiesmay be displayed on screen simultaneously. The package does not,however, allow for overlaying one type of image on another, suchas functional nuclear images on anatomic MR or CT displays.

Once on screen, the system's 16-bit depth of data allows forfull image processing and analysis capabilities. For instance,a circle can be drawn around a tumor using the Macintosh mouseand, by hitting a measurement button, MedVision will measure itsarea and density.

Macintosh allows for the use of six large-screen monitors ona single computer. The monitors work together as one screen, ineffect creating a 6000 x 1000-pixel configuration. Windows canbe dragged across all six monitors as if on a single screen. Thisis probably one reason why Siemens chose the Macintosh for itsLitebox workstation product, Siegel said.

The difference between Siemens' products and MedVision is thatthe customer buys only the $895 software package from Evergreenand runs it on any off-the-shelf Macintosh at or above the MacLC level, he said.

Siemens provides an integrated hardware and software systembased on the premium Mac FX platform, which can cost as much as$40,000, Siegel said.

A Mac LC with a color monitor can be purchased for $1600. AnFX computer might cost $6000, Siegel said.

Evergreen's strategy is to run its company lean, price itsproduct on a cost-plus basis and tap into physician markets—suchas cardiologists and neurologists in their offices or homes—thatmight be priced out of purchasing more expensive systems, he said.

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