Philips adds premium, oncology products to CT portfolio

October 13, 2004

Philips Medical Systems has followed the launch of its private practice cardiology CT system with a cascade of unveilings, each aimed at a distinct segment of the CT marketplace.

Philips Medical Systems has followed the launch of its private practice cardiology CT system with a cascade of unveilings, each aimed at a distinct segment of the CT marketplace.

The company began exhibiting a 16-slice dedicated radiation oncology CT and a 16-slice version of its Gemini PET/CT on Oct. 3 at the meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology. One day earlier, the company announced a 64-slice scanner to complement the 40-slice CT.

Brilliance CT Big Bore Oncology offers better image quality, faster workflow, and shorter exam time, according to the company. The scanner facilitates breast positioning, prostate treatment, respiratory gating studies, integrated absolute marking, and functional CT exams in a single system. Its CT localization tool allows clinicians to localize the tumor and mark the patient for therapy delivery without leaving the console.

CT Big Bore offers a 60-cm field-of-view, which promises improved geometric accuracy and uniformity when planning treatments. The 85-cm bore allows clinicians to measure body mass and better target the location and size of tumors.

Philips is the third company in 12 months to introduce a wide-bore CT scanner for oncology. The first was GE Healthcare at the 2003 ASTRO meeting, where the company showed its LightSpeed RT (Radiation Therapy), a quad-slice CT with a 65-cm field-of-view and 80-cm bore. Siemens in April announced its Sensation Open, a 20-slice CT with an 82-cm FOV and an 82-cm bore.

Philips chose the ASTRO 2004 meeting to present a 16-slice version of its Gemini PET/CT, which combines the Brilliance CT 16 and Allegro PET. Philips began routine shipping of the system in late September.

Its new premium system, showcased at the JFR (Journíes Françaises de Radiologie) Congress in Paris, is scheduled to begin shipping in mid-2005. The new configuration will deliver 64 thin slices over the 40-mm width of the Brilliance CT detector by increasing the number of simultaneous data acquisition channels, according to the company. By comparison, the 40-slice detector sandwiches 0.6-mm slices between 1.2-mm slices on either end.

"As we extend the 40-mm detector to full thin-slice coverage, we strengthen our already strong cardiac portfolio," said Thomas Zan Elzakker, Philips director for radiology CT. "It also helps us in lung and abdominal imaging, where thin slices and large coverage are important."

The 64-slice technology will be available as an upgrade to the 40-slice system, which began shipping routinely in early October. The company previously installed eight 40-slice systems at luminary sites around the world. Philips also offers a portfolio of six-, 10-, and 16-slice scanners.

Previous upgrades that brought customers from four to 16 slices have been accomplished not by field engineers but by forklifts. This time around will be different, according to Zan Elzakker.

"That is not going to happen," he said. "We are not going to swap the gantry."

Philips will populate the high end of the radiology CT market with 40- and 64-slice scanners in the near term, while evolving its 16-slice platform into niche products. The company introduced the Brilliance CT Private Practice CV in late September at the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics conference (SCAN 9/29/04).

"This is not just product packaging," said Jim Fulton, vice president of CT global marketing for Philips. "It comes with specific training, patient information kits and videos, and case studies on how to build a business around cardiovascular scanning. It leverages all that we know and have learned from customers about the cardiovascular business."

Buyers of the Private Practice CV system will also get a hand from private consultants recruited by Philips to help customers understand the effect of CT on cardiac cath patient volumes and revenues. All this is bundled into the $700,000 price of the cardiovascular system.