Siemens plans RSNA release of upgrades for Sequoia, Antares

October 9, 2002

Focus will be on image quality and workflowSoftware upgrades are in the works for Siemens' flagship ultrasound scanner Sequoia and its highly touted general-purpose Antares. The upgrades are scheduled for release Dec. 1 at the RSNA

Focus will be on image quality and workflow

Software upgrades are in the works for Siemens' flagship ultrasound scanner Sequoia and its highly touted general-purpose Antares. The upgrades are scheduled for release Dec. 1 at the RSNA meeting.

The Sequoia upgrade, called Signature II, is designed to improve imaging as well as workflow. A key enhancement is the extension of its coded excitation technology to seven additional transducers. This technology enables high-resolution imaging deep in the body. Consequently, transducers need not be switched as often when image depth changes, and existing transducers automatically become more versatile. For physicians, the bottom line is heightened diagnostic confidence and better images, according to Bill Carrano, vice president of worldwide marketing for the Siemens Medical Solutions ultrasound division.

"This broadens the scope and usage of transducers, adding more value to the department," Carrano said.

Other features include dynamic transmit focus, which allows the combination of ultrasound beams at two or three depths without reducing the frame rate. High frame rates are essential in tracking fetal heart rates and viewing Doppler flow variation.

Real-time spatial compounding enables the use of several lines of sight to gather data for an image. Negative effects of speckle and artifacts are reduced, creating a smoother looking image and improving contrast resolution. Freestyle, or manual, compounding is done in near-real-time.

Other new attributes are automatic background noise suppression and cadence contrast pulse sequencing, which allows the linear echo to be filtered out, leaving an image depicting just the contrast agent.

"The sensitivity that people are seeing in contrast agent imaging with this new technology is a huge step beyond anything clinicians have used previously," Carrano said.

Tissue equalization, a key feature of the version 2.0 upgrade to the ergonomically oriented Antares, was migrated from the company's flagship. Tissue equalization is essentially a one-touch image-

balancing feature. Echoes are analyzed and processed on the fly to differentiate diagnostic information from noise and other interference. In the end, the image is adjusted for optimal viewing.

"Tissue equalization is a smart technology that can differentiate the good information from the bad and adjust the gain horizontally across the image," Carrano said. "This is a significant workflow improvement, because it has taken the focus away from adjusting three or four different system settings. It has also added a new level of consistency and reproducibility within the department."

Other features of 2.0 include color SieScape panoramic imaging, which combines 2D gray-scale and color Doppler in a large field-of-view. Additionally, 3-scape real-time 3D imaging captures 3D volume sets, quickly reconstructing them for manipulation in real-time.

Enhancements to the Antares annotation, measurement, and reporting packages apply to neonatal head, pediatric abdominal, fetal echo, and prostate imaging. Real-time 4D also will be shown on the system, but as a work-in-progress, Carrano said.