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Philips shows mid-priced ultrasound unit with CVI


Philips Medical Systems showed a mid-priced version of its premiumPlatinum ultrasound system at the World Federation of Ultrasoundmeeting in Copenhagen and the European Congress of Radiology inVienna last month. The P700 sells for $35,000 less than

Philips Medical Systems showed a mid-priced version of its premiumPlatinum ultrasound system at the World Federation of Ultrasoundmeeting in Copenhagen and the European Congress of Radiology inVienna last month. The P700 sells for $35,000 less than Platinumbut offers Philips' unique color velocity imaging (CVI) technology.It is a more compact system than Platinum.

Both scanners will be sold in the U.S. and Europe. The Dutchvendor hopes the P700 will sell especially well to European users.European sonographers want moderately priced ultrasound, but theyare aware of state-of-the-art technology, said Hans van Bree,PMS president and CEO.

CVI is a color-flow technique that relies on ultrafast trackingof blood cells over time to calculate blood-flow velocity, ratherthan using Doppler shift analysis. A blood-flow quantificationtechnique based on CVI is under development by Philips and willbe offered on both Platinum and the P700. PMS is also developingthree-dimensional ultrasound technology for both scanners.

Although Philips Ultrasound is based in Santa Ana, CA, mostof the development work for CVI occurred in the vendor's researchlaboratories in France and the U.K., according to Michael P. Moakley,president and CEO of Philips Medical Systems North America.

Ultrasound is an increasingly popular medical imaging modalityin Europe, where CT and MRI sales have been restricted by governmentpurchasing regulations. The per capita density of CT scannersin Japan, for instance, is twice that of the U.S. and four timesthat of Europe. About 1000 CT scanners were sold last year inJapan, van Bree said.

Ultrasound, on the other hand, is a low-cost, noninvasivemodality that has improved significantly in diagnostic power overthe last few years. With worldwide sales increasing by 15% annually,ultrasound is the fastest growing medical imaging modality, hesaid.

"Companies like Siemens and ourselves realize that we haveto do something in ultrasound," van Bree said. "We expectthat in a couple of years 30% or more of all (medical) imagingwill be done with ultrasound technology. If you are a major companyin the imaging field, you cannot afford not to be in the ultrasoundbusiness."

ALTHOUGH SMALLER ULTRASOUND COMPANIES like Acuson and ATL haveproved adept at keeping up with technology, the major multimodalityimaging vendors have tremendous resources to devote to ultrasounddevelopment--if they choose to. Philips showed it will delegatesubstantial resources through its support of CVI development.The vendor upped the ultrasound ante earlier this year when itannounced it will make a sizable investment in that business,doubling staff at Philips Ultrasound headquarters (SCAN 6/19/91),van Bree said.

"Philips decided to make a major investment in ultrasoundto reach a market share in a couple of years that is at leastcomparable to the major players of today," he said. "Wehave the technology and the distribution network. It is up tous to realize our potential (in ultrasound)."

Since there are more vendors in ultrasound than in the otherimaging modalities, a major share of the market would be at orabove 10%. Philips has only a few percent of worldwide ultrasoundsales, he said.

Seven Platinum and P700 systems have been installed at luminarysites in Europe, said J. M. (Hans) Barella, PMS executive vicepresident.

"CVI is being shipped. We expect (installations) willgrow rapidly by the end of the year," he said.

Over 50 Platinum systems have been installed in the U.S., Moakleysaid. The U.S. effort is gearing up following release earlierthis year of the fifth Platinum software upgrade package. Philips'backlog of Platinum orders indicates U.S. sales will be strongthroughout the year, he said.

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