Major vendors picked up where they left off last year in the development of hybrid PET/CT systems, extending technology to its furthest capabilities or tweaking existing products for specialty applications. Premium performance 16-slice CT scanners were added to PET scanners, either as commercial products or on the drawing board, and a compact PET/CT optimized for oncology was displayed. The goal behind each was simple: to improve efficiency either by reducing scan time or conserving space and lowering cost to the customer.
The company, a longtime leader in PET development, albeit behind the scenes as a supplier to Siemens, is determined to step from behind the curtains with its own products while maintaining its fruitful relationship with the German vendor. CTI also designs and manufacturers cyclotrons and PET chemistry systems.
- A 16-slice version of its ECAT Reveal, introduced last year, headlined this year's introductions by the company. Like its predecessor, the Reveal XVI is built around a positron detector composed of proprietary lutetium oxyorthosilicate (LSO) crystal technology.
- CTI claims the upgraded system, which sells for an average of $2.6 million, will lead to more accurate tumor detection and localization, improved biopsy sampling, and better patient response to therapy. It potentially could also detect emerging blockages in the coronary arteries.
- The RSNA meeting officially marked the product launch, and the company has begun taking orders. The system, which was cleared by the FDA in October, will be marketed to both hospital- and nonhospital-based radiologists.
Gamma Medica Instruments
The company targets niche markets with its line of LumaGem scintillation cameras. A primary focus is women's healthcare.
- Its work-in-progress LumaGem 3200s sports close to a full-breast field-of-view. The system is compatible with most upright mammography machines for positioning close to the breast and imaging close to the chest wall. The company expects 510(k) clearance during 1Q 2003.
- The GammaCAM/OR is a high-resolution gamma camera for performing lymphoscintigraphy in the operating room.
GE Medical Systems
Only a few years ago, GE was struggling to be taken seriously as a major vendor of nuclear medicine equipment. Corporate acquisitions of SMV and the nuc med assets of Elscint, along with a renewed focus on PET, have helped make the company one of the premier players in the segment.
- The Discovery LS 16-slice work-in-progress promises to pull GE even with CTI and Siemens in the 16-slice PET/CT market. The product is scheduled for commercial release in early 2003. The system is optimized for both 2D and 3D imaging, providing microvoxel resolution, cubic CT data sets and multiplanar reformatting. The 16-slice Discovery LS will come equipped with cardiac perfusion software, allowing one-stop integrated evaluation of coronary lesions and their impact on myocardial perfusion and function.
- The Discovery ST is a redesigned PET/CT system optimized for cancer imaging. Integrating either a four- or eight-slice CT scanner capable of both 2D and 3D imaging, the system provides increased sensitivity, speed, resolution, and diagnostic confidence when treating cancer patients, according to the company. It is relatively compact, minimizing the space needed for siting.
- Readylab is a relocatable PET tracer production laboratory, designed to overcome the continuing shortage of FDG production facilities. Readylab is intended to serve smaller, less accessible communities.
Hitachi Medical Systems America
Hitachi entered the PET marketplace in 2002 with the Sceptre PET system, a value-priced PET scanner sourced from CTI PET Systems. The product, introduced at the June meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine, comes with the Avia fusion workstation.
- Sceptre uses a partial-ring detector composed of LSO. The detector, which covers an area of approximately 180º, rotates around the patient, using slip-ring technology, and is constructed to allow isotropic 3D data acquisition. Error correction to account for scatter and random counts is built in.
- Avia is designed for processing and viewing data from any diagnostic imaging facility. It permits centralized diagnostic interpretation of discrete or fused PET, CT, MR, and nuclear medicine images in display formats that are selected or customized by the user to improve interpretation workflow.
Philips Medical Systems
Building on successes engineered by ADAC Laboratories, which it acquired in 2000, Philips continues to provide one of the most extensive lines of gamma cameras and PET scanners in the industry.
- Billed as the world's first open hybrid system, the Gemini PET/CT was introduced in 2001. Thanks to its unique dual-ring configuration, the system can be used as a hybrid scanner or divided into separate CT and PET scanners, with the PET component sliding back and forth on a track, to enable maximum system usage.
- The SKYLight is another example of unique design. Introduced in 2000 as the first gantryless gamma camera, SKYLight was displayed again this year.
One of the first companies to develop commercial PET systems, Positron continues as a single-modality vendor of positron technology. The company showcased its air-cooled mPower whole-body scanner, which supports neurology, cardiology, and oncology exams. The scanner was introduced at the 2001 RSNA meeting.
- A fusion package, which sells for about $100,000, spares buyers the expense of purchasing hybrid systems. The package is compatible with all vendor products and enables buyers to add an MRI component later on.
Siemens Medical Systems
Once the undisputed leader in nuclear medicine, Siemens fell behind upstart ADAC in the mid-1990s, only to become a market leader again at the turn of the century with the success of its e.cam gamma camera and PET/CT biograph. Siemens supplies its core technology gamma cameras and workstations to Toshiba for private labeling.
- The biograph Sensation 16 PET/CT, introduced at the RSNA meeting, established the company at the high end of this market segment. The new system, which integrates the Somatom Sensation 16 CT scanner with the ECAT Accel PET scanner, is available for about $2.7 million.
- The lightweight, compact, and economical but high-throughput biograph LSO Mobile PET/CT was also introduced. The company describes the unit as the industry's first mobile PET/CT system.
- On the SPECT side, Siemens showed its e.cam Signature with digital detectors. The system features e.media technology, which enables patients to watch movies and listen to music while undergoing nuclear medicine scans. Signature includes seven models ranging from dedicated cardiac systems and full-featured variable-angle systems to high-energy or coincidence versions.
Long a leader in PET pharmaceutical distribution, Syncor also provides ancillary technology useful in the practice of nuclear medicine.
- The ASM (advanced survey meter) is designed for nuclear medicine laboratories, radiation safety officers, diagnostic x-ray and hospital emergency room technicians, and environmental health physicists. It goes beyond signal-point measurements to incorporate a peak hold function for surveying packages and advanced data logging capabilities with user-defined protocols. Its cousin, the SAM 992, contains an internal 1R GM detector.
Toshiba America Medical Systems
Through its strategic alliance with Siemens, Toshiba America provides its own version of the e.cam gamma camera, dubbed T.Cam. Toshiba mirrored developments by Siemens, displaying its e.soft Signature Series workstation for the T.Cam variable-angle, dual-detector gamma camera, which is designed to deliver high performance and efficiency.
- The e.soft Signature Series workstation enables clinicians to conduct comprehensive studies using the system's advanced postprocessing capabilities, including display of multimodality images and fusion of nuclear medicine and CT or MR images. Additional capabilities include localization of areas of interest in three axes.