MRI takes spotlight on RSNA exhibit floor as vendors unveil deluge of new scanners

January 12, 2000

The three-year boom under way in the MRI market continues to drive technology development in the sector as a flurry of new scanner introductions helped the modality take center stage at the 1999 RSNA meeting. Of particular note were advances in bringing

The three-year boom under way in the MRI market continues to drive technology development in the sector as a flurry of new scanner introductions helped the modality take center stage at the 1999 RSNA meeting. Of particular note were advances in bringing higher-field systems to the open scanning realm, with GE, Siemens, and Fonar all devoting attention to this type of system. Conventional high-field scanners also had their moment in the sun, with Hitachi, Philips, and Toshiba rolling out launches.

New introductions at the show weren’t confined to MRI, of course. In CT, firms focused on improvements in cardiac and pulmonary scanning, thanks to the proliferation of multirow detectors. On the mammography side, GE’s filing of a PMA for its digital mammography system and the subsequent recommendation for approval by a CDRH panel have given hope to digital mammography proponents that approval for the technology may finally be at hand.

PACS was everywhere at the meeting, with nearly 300 vendors claiming to show some form of digital image management capability. By nearly all accounts, the PACS marketplace is moving into high gear, sparked by the improved systems integration and scalability of PACS software.

In nuclear medicine, many vendors discussed efforts to improve the spatial resolution of images using fusion software or hybrid systems. ADAC’s Skylight dual-detector, no-gantry nuclear medicine system also drew considerable attention. In light of PET’s explosive growth in 1999, many firms highlighted their commitment to this market.

Digital x-ray systems were also prominent at the show, with many firms adding new systems to their portfolios. One longtime CR proponent, Kodak, even entered the DR market with the release of a family of three systems. Ultrasound vendors for the most part made incremental improvements to their product lines.

But the 1999 RSNA meeting was also notable for what didn’t happen. The 1998 meeting was characterized by a flurry of major acquisitions prior to the event, but this year’s show yielded little activity. The only deal of note was the closing of GE’s acquisition of OEC Medical, which was announced in August (SCAN 8/18/99).

Scuttlebutt circulating prior to the conference had mergers or acquisitions occurring between Philips and Picker and Siemens and Toshiba (SCAN 11/24/99), but those rumors failed to pan out. At the show, executives on all sides strongly denied that any deals were in the works, and market speculation has apparently been put to rest.

At least one rumored change did take place with Picker, however. The firm changed its name to Marconi Medical Systems. Picker’s parent, British firm GEC, had converted its name to Marconi, which it feels better represents its new focus on communications and information technology, following the divestiture of its aerospace and defense business.