Siemens prepares formal launch of CT scanner configured for 10 slices

October 9, 2002

Sensation 10 offers premium performance at 'modest' priceThe development of multislice CT scanners has followed a predictable pattern. First two slices, then four, eight, and this year 16. This exponential predictability will end

Sensation 10 offers premium performance at 'modest' price

The development of multislice CT scanners has followed a predictable pattern. First two slices, then four, eight, and this year 16. This exponential predictability will end Oct. 11, however, when Siemens Medical Solutions formally introduces its Sensation 10.

The premium scanner features half-second rotation and a detector crafted to deliver 10 slices down to submillimeter resolution. It will be aimed at the value-oriented customer who needs premium performance CT but cannot afford the company's million-dollar-plus flagship system, said Markus Lusser, radiology segment manager for CT at Siemens.

"This will be our next step in our Sensation product line," Lusser said. "This in-between number will target a price-conscious market segment."

The scanner will sell for under a million dollars. Individual prices will depend on the clinical configuration of the product, he said. The first Sensation 10 is scheduled for delivery to the University of Kentucky Oct. 16.

Fully equipped, the Sensation 10 will be able to do the same applications as its big brother, the Sensation 16. Among these are angiography‹including peripheral runoffs‹cardiac scanning, advanced neuro studies involving stroke management, lung cancer evaluations, and virtual colonography.

The Sensation 16 is itself a relative newcomer to the market that began shipping only three months ago. About 30 systems have been installed and are operating in the U.S. Production has steadily increased, however, and the number of installations is expected to grow rapidly. By the end of the year, Siemens should have more than 100 of these systems operating in the U.S., according to Lusser.

Many customers are large medical institutions, but the installed base includes smaller hospitals as well. The Sensation 10 will play an important role in this strategy of diffusing superhigh-performance multislice scanners throughout healthcare.

"This system enables our customers to get a top-of-the-line scanner for a much better price than they could previously," Lusser said. "Going to this modestly priced system satisfies a broad need across a wide range of hospitals."

The Sensation 10 may provide the first opportunity for some of these hospitals to do sophisticated procedures such as peripheral or even coronary angiography. These hospitals may not have cardiac cath or x-ray angiography facilities, Lusser said.

"But they will be able to use multislice CT for these applications," he said. "We see this as a much more effective way for such hospitals to gain these capabilities."

The Sensation 10 is also upgradable to the company's flagship configuration. The Sensation 16 is designed to deliver 16 slices per rotation, and most radiological applications are conducted at half-second rotation. Cardiac scans are done at 0.42 second rotation. In this mode, however, the scanner drops down to 12 slices per rotation. Siemens chose this number of slices to obtain optimum cardiac reconstruction, Lusser said.

"We use reconstruction techniques in cardiac that are different from normal body mode," he said. "It has to do with obtaining the best temporal resolution with the highest pitch or table feed in relation to the lowest breath-hold time for the patient."

In the war over slices, Siemens' competitors have tried to use the company's 12-slice strategy to their advantage, according to Lusser. But he retorts that the approach delivers the best clinical results.

"The robustness of the system is there," Lusser said. "We can get consistent, reproducible and reliable results in a clinical environment, not a research environment."

Two sites in the U.S.‹a major medical center in Houston and a private imaging center in New York City‹are routinely using the flagship Sensation in 12-slice mode to image the coronaries, he said.

Either way‹12 or 16‹the Sensation 16 generates enormous volumes of data, which prompted Siemens to add a second console, called InSpace, to the scanner. Because InSpace is integrated with the CT scanner, delays and complications resulting from data transfer are avoided, Lusser said. The operator can easily switch from traditional 2D coronal, sagittal, and axial views to volumetric renderings. Processing is nearly instantaneous.

"When we demonstrate this system to (prospective customers), they are still under the impression that these renderings took place somewhere in the background‹that we worked on them for half a day‹but that is not so," he said. "With InSpace, you click a button and it is done."

InSpace is not standard on the Sensation 16, but most customers choose it as an option, Lusser said. Displaying data effectively is one of the major stumbling blocks of multislice scanners. The Sensation 16, for example, generates 1500 slices in six seconds of scanning. Going through these data with conventional techniques is too time-consuming.

"Radiologists don't have the time to play around," Lusser said. "With InSpace integrated into the CT scanner, the solution is right there. The tech prepares the cases with the click of a button."

Workflow and ergonomics are becoming critical considerations in implementing multislice CTs, he said. Siemens' strategy to fill gaps in the technology‹in data processing systems as well as scanners that deliver optimum performance‹reflects those considerations.