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Medicsight launches chain of imaging centers in the U.K.


CAD uses databases to identify and track lesionsU.K. medical imaging technology company Medicsight is opening a string of private scanning centers to promote its computer-aided detection solutions. The CAD software will be

CAD uses databases to identify and track lesions

U.K. medical imaging technology company Medicsight is opening a string of private scanning centers to promote its computer-aided detection solutions. The CAD software will be installed in diagnostic imaging referral centers being launched under the name Lifesyne.

Medicsight was formed in November 2001 as the U.K. subsidiary of a U.S. company with the same name. Its engineers have developed what company execs term "expert" CAD software: algorithms based on artificial intelligence tailored to analyze CT scans. The software works directly with DICOM-based data and uses a comprehensive database of known lesion characteristics. The database is a critical component of the CAD package, said Medicsight CEO Simon Zuanic.

"It's analogous to the disk containing a road map found in car navigation systems," he said. "If the (reference) isn't there, the system won't work."

The first Lifesyne center opened in London last month. Patients can undergo a lung CT scan for British Sterling 395 ($640) or a heart exam for British Sterling 295 ($480), which makes Lifesyne screening 30% to 40% cheaper than imaging services offered by private U.K. hospitals, Zuanic said. The center has yet to install CAD, though. Medicsight must first gain regulatory approval for its expert software from the European Union, a process that is still ongoing. (FDA clearance also is lacking.)

Zuanic expects the company's CAD software will eventually be the cornerstone of Medicsight's chain of imaging centers. The centers will provide preventive heart, lung, and colon screening for patients referred by their physicians as symptomatic or at risk of developing heart disease or cancer. CAD will measure coronary artery calcium and identify, characterize, and track lung lesions over the short-term. It will also be used to detect colon polyps.

A total of 11 Lifesyne centers are planned for the U.K. Four are scheduled to open by the end of 2003. Medicsight plans to license its software for the traditional hospital market and to set up partnership agreements with private imaging centers in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. The company also expects to address sites in the U.S. The first such site is due to open in July in Nashville.

"The American opportunity is enormous," Zuanic said. "There are 4000 nonhospital-based diagnostic imaging centers in the U.S. today, of which more than 2000 have CT."

Medicsight's CAD software is designed specifically to process data generated by 16-slice CT scanners. The state-of-the-art multidetector hardware offers the ideal combination of enhanced performance and suitability to a wide range of applications, Zuanic said.

"Electron-beam CT was at one time the gold standard for heart imaging because of speed of acquisition," he said. "Today, 16-slice scanners offer superior quality images of the heart but are also the perfect solution for lung exams and for colonography."

Zuanic is confident that Medicsight's CAD package will have won its CE Mark by the time the second Lifesyne center opens in London, though the company could start beta testing sooner.

"The problem with CAD systems on the market today is that they produce such a large number of false positives that people don't actually like to use them," he said. "We would like to get the false positives down to such a low level that CAD genuinely can be used as a state-of-the-art tool."

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