Siemens readies digital x-ray systems for commercialization

June 1, 1999

Siemens readies digital x-ray systems for commercializationVendor will tout work-flow advantages of Multix FD and Thorax FDThe digital x-ray market got a little more crowded last month with news that Siemens Medical Systems has received

Siemens readies digital x-ray systems for commercialization

Vendor will tout work-flow advantages of Multix FD and Thorax FD

The digital x-ray market got a little more crowded last month with news that Siemens Medical Systems has received Food and Drug Administration 510(k) clearance for two new systems employing full-field digital x-ray detectors. The Iselin, NJ-based company expects to begin selling the units within the next several weeks.

The two systems, Multix FD and Thorax FD, are based on amorphous silicon flat-panel detectors manufactured by Trixell, the French joint-venture company formed by Siemens, Philips, and Thomson Tubes Electroniques. Siemens adapted the detectors to conventional analog x-ray systems and debuted the units at last year's RSNA meeting (PNN 1/99). Multix FD is a table-based system while Thorax FD is a dedicated chest stand.

Although Siemens and Philips are using the same Trixell Pixium 4600 detectors in their respective systems, the vendors' products differ in how they have integrated the panels. Siemens designed the FD product line to emphasize throughput and make the new digital x-ray rooms as efficient as possible, according to Thomas Treusdell, product manager for radiographic equipment and flat panel.

In designing Multix FD, Siemens began with its Multix TOP conventional table-based x-ray system, which was first released about two years ago with the understanding that digital detectors would be added later. In addition to adding the detector itself, Siemens developed a new Windows NT-based workstation for operating the unit.

Thorax FD required more engineering work than Multix FD, but as a result features several innovations that should improve its functionality, according to Treusdell. One such feature is the ability to automatically track the overhead x-ray tube to either of the system's buckys.

The workstation used in Multix FD and Thorax FD is the key to the productivity gains that can be achieved with the systems. The computer's software was developed with the idea of automating the procedures of an x-ray exam as much as possible, Treusdell said. For example, the workstation can be connected to the hospital's HIS/RIS, enabling users to download patient information to the workstation. The workstation then automatically adjusts the x-ray system's parameters to match the procedure that has been ordered.

The system also enables technologists to review exposures instantly to make sure they're acceptable, a process that can take several minutes with a conventional x-ray unit. Once a procedure has been completed, the study can be sent to a laser printer for output or to a PACS via DICOM storage class connections.

Multix FD will be priced at about $450,000 while Thorax FD will carry a price tag of around $350,000. Siemens and other vendors are hoping that radiology departments will find that a single digital x-ray room can take the place of multiple analog units.

Siemens believes its systems compare favorably to other digital x-ray options available. The Trixell panel has a resolution of 143 microns, which is an improvement on the 200-micron resolution of the amorphous silicon panels used by GE Medical Systems in its Revolution XQi system.

Unlike the Trixell panels, however, GE's detectors are based on a single piece of glass, and thus do not require imaging tiling. Not surprisingly, Treusdell believes that amorphous silicon is a better approach to x-ray digitization than technology using charge-coupled devices, the method employed by Swissray, Oldelft, and Trex, among other companies.