Shimadzu targets x-ray replacement

April 21, 1993

Shimadzu Medical Systems last month began selling a radiography/fluoroscopysystem tailored to exploit growth in the U.S. x-ray replacementmarket. The R/F system, YSF-220, was designed to double patientthroughput, enabling hospitals to replace older

Shimadzu Medical Systems last month began selling a radiography/fluoroscopysystem tailored to exploit growth in the U.S. x-ray replacementmarket. The R/F system, YSF-220, was designed to double patientthroughput, enabling hospitals to replace older devices with asmaller number of new ones, according to Arnold Arsenault, marketingmanager of x-ray products for the Gardena, CA-based company.

"The whole concept (of YSF-220) was to increase throughput,"Arsenault told SCAN. "Because of economic conditions, weneed to get more and more patients through fewer and fewer rooms.If (a hospital) were to have four rooms now, it would be ableto replace those four rooms with maybe three and possibly twoYSF-220s."

Hospitals are beginning to return to x-ray purchasing afteryears of pursuing more glamorous modalities, he said. CT, ultrasoundand MRI have consumed the lion's share of hospital imaging procurementbudgets, and x-ray departments have had to string out the lifeof their equipment. Much of that equipment is now years past itsuseful lifespan, and rising service costs are forcing hospitalsto make the x-ray purchases they once postponed.

"There is a bubble (of growth) right now in R/F,"Arsenault said. "It will continue for a year or two and thenshould flatten out."

The prospect of a growing x-ray market has also lured competitorToshiba to release its Fluorex system, a new R/F product featuredat the vendor's booth at the 1992 Radiological Society of NorthAmerica meeting.

Shimadzu displayed YSF-220 at its booth at the RSNA meeting,and received Food and Drug Administration clearance for marketingin November.

Among the applications for which YSF-220 was designed are upperand lower gastrointestinal studies, gallbladder imaging, boneand spine work, as well as myelographic studies. Shimadzu increasedthe system's throughput by making it simpler and easier to operate,Arsenault said.

YSF-220's x-ray tube and collimation system were designed byEureka X-Ray Tube specifically for Shimadzu, although Eureka isalso supplying the tubes and collimators to other vendors, hesaid. The tube was engineered for electronic photo spot and digitalapplications. It uses a 0.6 to 1.2-mm focus and a 12´, 600,000HU, graphite-backed anode.

The price range of a YSF-220 system suitable for a full R/Froom is $200,000 to $300,000, Arsenault said.

Shimadzu last month also rolled out an upgrade package forthe company's 0.5-tesla SMT-50X MR scanner. The upgrade is intendedto bring high-field performance to the system by enabling it toperform MR angiography, subsecond scanning and fast spin-echoimaging, according to Donald E. Karle, CT and MR marketing manager.

While the system's magnet remains the same, the gradients,radio-frequency system and computer have all been redesigned.The upgrade will cost $250,000, Karle said. The upgraded scanner,which will be called the SMT-50X/H, will list for $1.4 million,the same price as the previous version.

The SMT-50X has an installed base of 12, Karle said.

BRIEFLY NOTED:

  • Acuson introduced a new mid-priced color ultrasound scannerlast week. The 128 XP/4 offers customers the option of color-flowDoppler without having to upgrade to the premium 128 XP/10 system,as is the case with Acuson's 128 XP/3 mid-tier scanner.

The XP/4 also comes with a feature called Change Frequency,which uses the multihertz technology available on the XP/10. ChangeFrequency is not available on the XP/3. The XP/3, introduced twoyears ago (SCAN 2/27/91), was Acuson's first effort to broadenthe market for its 128 system by offering fewer features at alower price.

The XP/4 will be available to customers as either a black-and-whiteor color-flow scanner. The global mid-tier color market is oneof the fastest growing niches in ultrasound, according to Acuson.Shipments of the XP/4 are scheduled to start in the third quarterof this year.

  • A patent infringement lawsuit filed by Diasonics againstultrasound competitor Acuson went to trial in February in U.S.District Court in San Francisco. Diasonics filed the suit in September1991 (SCAN 11/6/91).

The lawsuit involves two patents relating to work done by VarianAssociates in the mid-1970s, according to Acuson. The Milpitas,CA-based Diasonics purchased the patents in the 1980s, Acusonsaid.

The alleged infringement covers real-time B-mode imaging withsimultaneous time-motion recording of a preselected region andsimultaneous display of ECG, according to Acuson.