Philips prepares to move into digital mammography

January 3, 2008

Philips Medical Systems plans to be on the U.S. market with a computed radiography system for mammography in the second half of 2008 and with a flat panel mammography system in the first half of 2009. When approved by the FDA, they will be available as part of a digital platform that can support CR and DR, the first such hybrid ever.

Philips Medical Systems plans to be on the U.S. market with a computed radiography system for mammography in the second half of 2008 and with a flat panel mammography system in the first half of 2009. When approved by the FDA, they will be available as part of a digital platform that can support CR and DR, the first such hybrid ever.

Underlying this platform will be Philips' proprietary software that irons out the differences between CR and DR, while streamlining workflow. The software will be the only technology purely Philips. The CR mammography reader and phosphor plates will come from Fuji. The amorphous selenium flat panel will come from Anrad, a subsidiary of Analogic, which may soon be supplying Siemens Medical Solutions with flat panel detectors for its full field digital mammography systems. (Currently the solid-state detectors in Siemens' FFDM systems come from Hologic.)

CR and DR hardware in the Philips mammography system will be combined into a single platform, called the Philips MammoDiagnost. This system will be configurable with either or both modalities. A mock-up was shown as a work in progress in the Philips booth at the RSNA meeting.

Philips is already selling its own brand of CR mammography outside the U.S, according to Janka Tammen, Philips mammography product manager. The company has not yet submitted a PMA application to the FDA for approval to market the system in the U.S., but is getting close to doing so, she said. It will soon be submitted to the FDA as the first of two modules. The second will address mammography with a flat panel detector. If both modules go through as planned, Philips will offer a unique blend of mammography technologies.

"We are talking about CR and DR integration, providing the same user interface and same post processing software," Tammen said.

The company will use its Eleva interface, introduced a couple years ago on its high-end DigitalDiagnost systems. It has since migrated throughout Philips' general x-ray products, including those offering fluoroscopy.

Eleva offers the advantage of quickly introducing new functions or applications with minimal training. Staff familiar with Eleva, therefore, will understand the basic operation of the Philips MammoDiagnost right out of the box.

Expanding into mammography is a necessary step for Philips, which calls women's health a priority area. Its DR and DR mammography product will be flexible enough to meet the wants of any site, Tammen said. Whereas one may want only DR, another may want just CR. Alternatively, a site with several film-based units of varying ages may want to decommission older systems, while keeping using its newer ones - but using them in a digital format. A hybrid configuration, leveraging CR and DR, would support this.

"We could provide whatever the customer wants - DR, CR, or both - and with the same interface," Tammen said.

Having the same interface is a productivity issue, she said, as it promotes workflow. The integration of CR and DR also would help in the interpretation of these two modalities, as Philips can tune the post-processing algorithms to deliver images of comparable quality and appearance.

"I wouldn't say that you won't be able to tell them apart, because one is CR and one is DR, but they will be very similar," Tammen said. "There will be no readjusting in the mind, because what you will get is essentially the same (image quality), no matter what the modality."