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Nuc med software improves recon speed or image quality


Israel-based software developer UltraSPECT has developed an algorithm that can do for SPECT what parallel imaging has done for MR.

Israel-based software developer UltraSPECT has developed an algorithm that can do for SPECT what parallel imaging has done for MR.

"Our products can double the resolution or cut acquisition time in half," said Ken Smith, vice president of sales and marketing for the five-year-old company. "Our algorithm is applied to data that are already acquired. When you send that data through the system it increases resolution by up to a factor of two."

Just months after launching its first two nuclear medicine products, UltraSPECT has shipped 15 units and hopes to double or triple that by year-end. The products, Xact.bone and Xpress.bone, were cleared by the FDA in 2004 and launched in June during the Society of Nuclear Medicine annual meeting in Philadelphia. Each focuses on a different type of resolution.

Xact.bone supports SPECT, whole-body, and planar bone scan protocols to reconstruct images at the highest possible resolution. Xpress.bone delivers SPECT and planar reconstructions with the emphasis on reducing acquisition time, according to the company.

The key to the process is wide-beam reconstruction (WBR), which optimizes images by accounting for various physical effects - such as scatter, attenuation, and marginal penetration through the collimator septa - thereby improving the performance of the gamma camera, regardless of make or model. The end result is increased diagnostic confidence.

"You get significantly better image quality," Smith said. "It comes close to the theoretical limitations of a camera's resolution."

Established in 1999 by CEO Shuli C. Schwartz, Ph.D., a former Elscinct scientist, and Israel Ohana, Ph.D., now a company director, UltraSPECT was created to develop and market solutions for the enhancement of nuclear medicine imaging. Key events during recent years have included FDA clearance of both products; the company's name change in 2002 from UCG to UltraSPECT to better reflect its product line; and the procurement two years ago of $2.2 million in capital funding seed money .

The company's 15 installations include the Mayo Clinic, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Duke University Medical Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital, and Weill Cornell Medical Center. UltraSPECT is marketing its products to large and small medical centers and hospitals as well as clinics, primarily utilizing medical meetings, publicity, and the display of optimized images to get its message across.

"Our products are very different from other resolution recovery techniques," said Schwartz, referring to filtered back projection and ordered subset expectation maximization. "The difference is we don't depend on user interaction. With other techniques, the user decides the parameters for different patients - it's not optimized."

The wide-beam reconstruction techniques built into Xact.bone and Xpress.bone are automated, which not only reduces the learning curve for their use but speeds the reconstruction process. The products are designed to work with any gamma camera - including legacy systems, Smith said. Images from 10-year-old cameras can be optimized with the software to perform at current standards.

"The biggest challenges are getting our name out there and creating demand," Smith said. "Our products run contrary to almost everything anyone in nuclear medicine has been taught, which is if you want better image quality, you have to acquire longer. With these products, you can get better image quality in half the time."

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