Nuclear medicine newcomer Dilon develops high-res gamma camera

February 3, 1999

Firm intends unit for scintimammographyIn a nuclear medicine market dominated by large players, new gamma camera manufacturers are relatively rare. But one more firm is about to appear on the market. Dilon Technologies of Newport News, VA, filed a

Firm intends unit for scintimammography

In a nuclear medicine market dominated by large players, new gamma camera manufacturers are relatively rare. But one more firm is about to appear on the market. Dilon Technologies of Newport News, VA, filed a 510(k) submission in December for its first commercial product, beginning the often arduous process of making a place for itself in nuclear medicine.

The company made the filing on Dec. 22 for Dilon 2000, a 6 x 8-inch field-of-view gamma camera developed for high-resolution applications such as scintimammography and thyroid and prostate imaging (SCAN 1/13/99). Like traditional gamma cameras, Dilon 2000 uses scintillation crystals, photomultiplier tubes, and analog-to-digital converters. But what makes the camera unique is that its detector design allows it to get closer to the chest wall, which confers benefits in breast imaging, according to the company.

In addition, Dilon 2000's 48 PMTs boast eight outputs rather than the one found in conventional digital systems, and this larger number of outputs allows it to measure with more accuracy where gamma rays hit the PMT, according to Lee Fairchild, director of product marketing. What's more, typical digital gamma camera detectors have a 2.5 to 3-inch border of unusable space around their edges, whereas Dilon 2000's detectors have only a 0.5-inch border.

"The single biggest benefit (of Dilon 2000) is the dead space, the distance from the edge of the detector to where imaging can begin," Fairchild said. "In breast imaging, because of the (detector's minimal) dead space and its small size, we can image laterally, medially, and caudocranially."

Dilon gets its PMTs from Japanese optics manufacturer Hamamatsu, and believes that it is the only firm using the tubes for scintimammography applications. The tubes are primarily used in astrophysics, Fairchild said.

Privately held Dilon was established in 1997 to commercialize Dilon 2000's detector technology, developed at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News. Although the technology was developed initially for use in the lab's nuclear physics mission, the company believed that it could be used in commercial applications such as scintimammography.

Using nuclear medicine to detect breast cancer could provide patients with faster, noninvasive, and more efficient tests to choose from, the company believes. Dilon licensed the detector design from Southeastern Universities Research Association and Jefferson Laboratories under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement.

Once Dilon 2000 is cleared by the FDA, Dilon plans to market it both directly and through third parties, selling initially to U.S. hospitals and stand-alone breast imaging facilities. The company expects clearance for Dilon 2000 early this year and plans to list the system at $130,000.

"There's a push (in stand-alone centers) for a complete, same-day diagnosis," Fairchild said. "And scintimammography is becoming one of those tests."