Siemens launches mobile C-arm with global appeal

September 1, 2004

Siemens Medical Solutions has high hopes for its latest x-ray offering. Company executives expect the new C-arm, called Axiom Artis U, to appeal to experienced and novice practitioners of angiographic applications working in established and emerging

Siemens Medical Solutions has high hopes for its latest x-ray offering. Company executives expect the new C-arm, called Axiom Artis U, to appeal to experienced and novice practitioners of angiographic applications working in established and emerging global markets.

Axiom Artis U is designed to serve as a high-performance mobile unit, providing customers with cost-effective entry into angiography and cardiology without the price tag of stationary systems. At the same time, Siemens is targeting clinical practitioners who are already using mobile x-ray and now seek higher end solutions.

"On the one hand, this is a very affordable C-arm system for general angiography and cardiology applications, and that is a segment where typically you have stationary mounted systems that are a lot more expensive," said Dr. Stefan Schaller, vice president of angiography and R/F marketing and sales for Siemens. "On the other, we are addressing a new emerging customer group; for example, applications in vascular surgery, orthopedics, neurology, anesthesiology, and pain therapy, where mobile systems that are being used typically have a lower performance."

Siemens is releasing two versions of the mobile C-arm for worldwide distribution. A configuration aimed at general use and angiography became available in August. An alternative setup with a modified collimator for cardiology will appear in November.

Both configurations of the Axiom Artis U will be manufactured in Shanghai. The finished goods will be well placed for shipping throughout China, where Siemens expects interventional radiologists and cardiologists to be tempted by the entry-level product. But the Axiom Artis U will go well beyond China, according to Siemens, which plans to globalize the product. Manufacture in China has the advantage of keeping costs low so as to produce an economical high-end system.

Siemens has been utilizing production facilities in China since 1992 under a joint venture as Siemens Shanghai Medical Equipment, Schaller said. The joint venture was established by Siemens Ltd. China (75%) and Shanghai Medical Equipment Works (25%) with an investment of more than US$13 million. The site now develops and assembles a range of Siemens equipment from x-ray and ultrasound product lines to certain CT and MR scanners. All new products are candidates for manufacture in Shanghai, though the company continues to maintain its major manufacturing presence in Forchheim, Germany.

"If you look at China, it is just a tremendously large market, and if you look at the growth factors, it becomes clear that in a few years it will be our largest and most important market in the world," Schaller said. "Here at Siemens Medical Solutions, we are a globally operating medical company. If you recognize a market opportunity in a very large and rapidly growing market, you have to be there. So it is natural that we also develop and produce locally."

The Axiom Artis U has been tailor-made for new customers. The system was designed so even inexperienced personnel can learn to operate the equipment quickly, Schaller said. The user interface is built on Siemens' universal software platform, syngo. The compact system footprint and its mounting on a wheeled cart promote flexible positioning for a range of applications while permitting use across several rooms.

The system runs with a power output of 80 kW. The power of existing mobile C-arm systems, by comparison, is generally less than 20 kW, Schaller said. The high heat storage capacity of the x-ray tube minimizes the downtime needed for cooling.

The CCD-based image intensifier has a 1K x 1K imaging matrix. An automated function compensates for differing densities. The unit is also fitted with elements of Siemens' radiation protection technology, which adjusts filter strength and permits radiation-free positioning of the collimators.

"No other competitor has anything comparable," Schaller said.