Oni gains traction with new high-field extremity scanner

June 1, 2005

High-field MR has become the standard of care throughout radiology. The lower field strength of general-purpose open scanners has been one of the drivers behind purchases of compact 1T extremity scanners from Oni Medical Systems. Another is the system's ability to be sited in a space as small as 200 square feet.

High-field MR has become the standard of care throughout radiology. The lower field strength of general-purpose open scanners has been one of the drivers behind purchases of compact 1T extremity scanners from Oni Medical Systems. Another is the system's ability to be sited in a space as small as 200 square feet.

The Wilmington, MA, company has installed 64 of its OrthOne superconducting systems, primarily at radiology sites accustomed to general-purpose high-field imaging. Radiologists at New England Baptist Hospital in Boston use the compact scanner for all finger, hand, wrist, and elbow imaging and for most of their knee scans.

The system excels at elbows, according to Dr. Joel Newman, associate chair of radiology at New England Baptist. The elbow is difficult to image with closed high-field systems, as patients must lie in the "Superman" position: on their side or stomach with the arm of interest above the head in order to center the joint in the field-of-view.

"There are issues of patient comfort, issues of off-center imaging," Newman said.

Patients have no trouble, however, completing an elbow study with OrthOne. The extremity scanner resembles a miniature cylindrical scanner mounted inside a pedestal. Its 28-cm bore fits an arm or a leg resting on a support attached to a chair that swivels the patient into position.

New England Baptist Hospital is typical of most sites with an OrthOne, as it complements an already installed 1.5T scanner. But not all units complement general-purpose high-field units. Radiology Affiliates Imaging in Hamilton, NJ, bought the compact extremity scanner as an adjunct to a 0.2T scanner. The goal was to offload some of the volume from the open system and increase overall throughput.

"We looked at the number of MRIs that were extremity cases that were doable on the OrthOne: feet, knees, ankles, wrists, and elbows," said Dr. Larry LeCavalier, medical director of Radiology Affiliates. "We thought we could do a substantial number of cases on it."

The group, which operates an outpatient imaging center from a complex of condominiums, squeezed OrthOne into a room measuring only about 10 x 10 feet. Soon after its installation two years ago, the center began receiving prescriptions requesting high-field scans or, more to the point, "not open scans," LeCavalier said.

The Hamilton radiologists now have the option of referring patients to a high-field system they recently installed at another office. But OrthOne has caught on, excelling at scans of the wrist and elbow, just as it does at New England Baptist Hospital.

For these varied reasons, sales of OrthOne are picking up, according to Oni president Robert Kwolyk. The company has offered the unit for about four years, but demand began to accelerate during the second half of 2004. Oni now has a backlog of more than 20 orders.

The U.S. accounts for most of the 64 units installed, but efforts in Europe are also beginning to pay off. The company shipped five units to European hospitals in the first four months of this year.