Novel nuclear cardiac system nears market

October 26, 2007

Next month Spectrum Dynamics will begin shipping its long-awaited D-SPECT Cardiac imaging product, featuring solid-state cadmium-zinc-telluride detectors and proprietary image reconstruction techniques that cut the time typically needed to do a SPECT heart scan by 75% or more. The Danville, CA-based company will target high-volume private cardiac labs and hospitals that put a premium on throughput and image quality.

Next month Spectrum Dynamics will begin shipping its long-awaited D-SPECT Cardiac imaging product, featuring solid-state cadmium-zinc-telluride detectors and proprietary image reconstruction techniques that cut the time typically needed to do a SPECT heart scan by 75% or more. The Danville, CA-based company will target high-volume private cardiac labs and hospitals that put a premium on throughput and image quality.

D-SPECT, first unveiled as a work-in-progress at RSNA 2005, can perform resting heart scans in four minutes and stress tests in two, according to tests done at luminary sites. Conventional gamma cameras typically require 15 to 18 minutes for stress testing.

Spectrum Dynamics executives hope to capitalize on the speed of D-SPECT in the months ahead. The company is starting with a direct sales force of seven but will ramp up substantially in 2008.

"The big companies that own 70% to 80% of the market are still shipping systems with sodium iodide crystals and vacuum tubes, the same basic camera design that was invented 50 years ago. This market has waited 50 years to see something different," said Josh Gurewitz, vice president of sales and marketing.

The greater efficiency of D-SPECT is achieved through its nine CZT detectors, which increase sensitivity by a factor of 10 over that of conventional sodium iodide analog detectors, according to the company. D-SPECT alters the basic premise of photon detection, Gurewitz said.

Conventional nuclear medicine systems detect gamma rays by recording the flashes of light they create when striking a thin crystal or scintillator. D-SPECT converts photons directly to pulses, so its efficiency is higher. The system uses tungsten collimators with large collection angles for improved sensitivity and specialized algorithms to increase resolution by as much as a factor of two.

D-SPECT confines its nine detectors within an L-shaped housing. The detectors rotate back and forth within the housing, but neither the housing nor the patient's chair rotates.

Spectrum Dynamics considers D-SPECT a premium product, ergo, the list price of $290,000, about 15% higher than competing models. The key selling point, therefore, for the system's primary market - the private cardiologists' office - will be improved image quality, efficiency, and productivity.

"The small premium we are asking in the acquisition cost is easily offset by the additional revenue that comes from the additional studies that can be done per day," Gurewitz said. "The ability to improve throughput by allowing offices to image two, three, or four more patients in the same time makes a big difference. This also gives sites the flexibility to reduce the total number of cameras with the improved efficiency of D-SPECT."

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