Siemens, Cardiovascular Consultants ink pact for PET, MRI, CT protocols

April 11, 2001

In an unusual agreement, imaging giant Siemens Medical Systems has joined forces with Cardiovascular Consultants (CC), a large medical group specializing in cardiovascular disease, to develop imaging protocols for three modalities the new partners

In an unusual agreement, imaging giant Siemens Medical Systems has joined forces with Cardiovascular Consultants (CC), a large medical group specializing in cardiovascular disease, to develop imaging protocols for three modalities the new partners believe hold major potential in identification and treatment of heart disease. Under the five-year pact, CC and Siemens will collaborate on protocols for PET, MRI, and CT.

What makes the alliance unusual is the incorporation of three high-profile, noninvasive modalities in an office practice rather than a university or large hospital setting. In essence, CC joins the ranks of other Siemens luminary sites: the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins University, New York University, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Stanford University, and Northwestern University.

“What differentiates this from other Siemens alliances is the setting,” said Robert Dewey, director of Siemens’ cardiology program. “Cardiovascular Consultants represents the physician office practice setting rather than the more traditional large hospital, where such alliances often are structured. It provides an opportunity to evaluate the roles of traditional and emerging imaging modalities in an environment that reflects the priorities of a large segment of our customer base.”

According to CC, each modality holds promise for various aspects of cardiac imaging: PET for perfusion imaging, MRI for vascular imaging and the detection of small infarcts, and CT for identifying atherosclerosis. Other systems eventually may be incorporated as well. The systems will be based at CC’s research center in its Mid-America Heart Institute, said Dr. Timothy Bateman, director of cardiac and vascular noninvasive imaging for the institute.

“There will be one of each system, and they will all be equipped and dedicated for cardiac and vascular applications,” Bateman said.

Cardiovascular Consultants, based in Kansas City, MO, purchased the imaging equipment from Siemens “at a favorable price,” according to Siemens. Placement of the systems in the research facility, which will serve as a demonstration site, will enable the group to conduct clinical trials, collect new data, and analyze patient data collected over the past 20 years:

  • CC’s PET scanner will be the first in the world to use a new high-sensitivity detector with image resolution eight times greater than any PET scanner in operation in the U.S., according to Siemens. PET will be used primarily in complex medical situations to help physicians measure the value of medications, among other things.
  • MRI will be used primarily to assess leg, neck, and kidney arteries. Two vital areas of research will involve the detection of scar tissue from prior heart attacks and the study of the heart’s relaxation phase.
  • High-speed, high-resolution CT will enable researchers to freeze the heart’s movement, helping clinicians to identify and characterize any plaque that may be present in coronary arteries.

Software used to drive the modalities will be developed cooperatively by Siemens and CC, and Siemens researchers will work on-site. Ultimately, the effort is expected to result in partnerships with radiopharmaceutical, software, and technology companies, Bateman said. Those relationships could ultimately short millions of dollars in additional research funding to CC and the institute.

“We are conducting the kinds of research that should be fundable by governmental agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health,” Bateman said. “We will certainly compete for that.”