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Philips woos interventionalists with high-res vascular system


Information overload is an oft-heard gripe in hospitals running state-of-the-art digital imaging systems. Consequently, vendors can spend as much time talking up data-handling aspects of their latest products as they do discussing the benefits of better

Information overload is an oft-heard gripe in hospitals running state-of-the-art digital imaging systems. Consequently, vendors can spend as much time talking up data-handling aspects of their latest products as they do discussing the benefits of better image quality.

Philips Medical Systems is using data management and efficiency as key selling points for its new high-end interventional imaging system, which is scheduled to begin shipping worldwide later this summer. The Allura Xper FD20, designed for vascular, neurovascular, and cardiovascular applications, features a 2048 x 2048-pixel flat-detector imaging matrix with 154-micron pixels for higher resolution and enhanced contrast visualization. This makes the imaging data load far higher than that generated by a standard 1024 x 1024 matrix, and it has prompted Philips to reassess its information-handling technology.

The FD20's advanced detector provides too much information for a conventional system architecture, according to Denis Mioni, vascular business segment director for Philips Medical Systems. Pairing the new system with software designed for 1K image processing would mean reducing the number of pixels going into the processor. Philips therefore opted to redesign its imaging chain to avoid compromising resolution.

"All vendors are delivering large field-of-view flat-detector systems. What we think is unique with Philips is that we are making use of all the information generated," Mioni said. "The detector is producing this large volume of information, but our system is capable of storing it, processing it, and archiving it as well. This is the only flat-detector system on the market with this 2K imaging chain."

The 2K imaging chain will also serve as a platform for future advances in functionality, such as soft-tissue mapping and 3D road-mapping. Soft-tissue imaging technology is currently being explored as a means for providing CT-like images of soft tissues using angiography equipment. Three-D road-mapping, which involves superimposing 3D angiographic data onto 2D views, is also under investigation for use in real-time catheter tracking.

"Advances like soft-tissue imaging and 3D road-mapping will support physicians performing complex endovascular procedures," he said.

The FD20's large FOV 30 x 40-cm flat detector is suitable for full abdominal coverage, as well as coverage of peripherals such as the legs, Mioni said. Because the detector is rectangular, it is also appropriate for cardiac applications. The detector is mounted on a C-arm, and can be rotated on a pivot into the most appropriate orientation for each exam. Operators can also reduce the active matrix to a minimum 16 x 16-cm # square FOV to suit different applications.

Inclusion of Philips' Xper (x-ray personalized) technology also lets users tailor the workflow to their own preferences with self-programmable settings. Xper allows operators to retrieve and view imaging data from other modalities as the intervention proceeds.

The FD20, which is being targeted primarily to the worldwide interventional radiology and cardiology markets, gained FDA approval shortly after debuting as a work-in-progress at the RSNA meeting in 2003. It has been cleared for sale by Japanese regulators. Award of a European CE Mark is expected this summer.

Doctors at the St. Antonius Hospital in Nieuwegein, the Netherlands, are putting the FD20 through its paces in a clinical setting. A second early-adopter site, located in the U.S., should be up and running this summer, Mioni said. Philips started taking orders at the Society of Interventional Radiology meeting in Phoenix in March, and regular shipping is expected to begin in late August.

Philips will price its new flat-detector digital x-ray unit according to its status as a high-end system. The FD20 is assuming the top spot in Philips' Allura family of cardiovascular x-ray equipment, which also includes a series of units fitted with digital image intensifiers (Integris Allura), and the smaller sized flat detector FD10. The exact price of each FD20 will depend on the user's chosen configuration, Mioni said.

"This system has a lot of versatility in applications," he said. "We can reconfigure it for pure vascular applications or for cardiac applications alone, or it can be truly multifunctional. We can really customize it to address the needs of different sized hospitals and healthcare institutions."

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