Siemens seeks MR sweet spot in portfolio with 0.35T open

August 18, 2004

For the second time in as many weeks, Siemens Medical Solutions announced a new MR system oriented toward customers focused on patient comfort. The 1.5T open-bore Magnetom Espree was already on tour around the U.S. when Siemens unveiled its Magnetom C!,

For the second time in as many weeks, Siemens Medical Solutions announced a new MR system oriented toward customers focused on patient comfort. The 1.5T open-bore Magnetom Espree was already on tour around the U.S. when Siemens unveiled its Magnetom C!, a clam-shaped open system, on Aug. 5.

The Magnetom C!, bearing a permanent magnet generating a 0.35T field, is designed to hit a sweet spot in the open market. Its field strength exemplifies midfield open products, which annually attract about 8% to 12% of the U.S. revenue spent on new MR systems, according to Anne Sheehan, marketing manage for Siemens open MR products. Until now, Siemens has been excluded from this niche, having only the low-field 0.2T Concerto. That weakness was corrected July 16, when the Magnetom C! was cleared by FDA reviewers.

"Although we have offered a C-shaped permanent magnet in the Concerto for a couple years, the difference between 0.2T and the 0.3T Airis was enough for us to get slam-dunked (on deals)," she said.

Siemens is now taking orders for its 0.35T Magnetom C!, promising delivery within 90 days. Installation is scheduled for its first clinical site in September. The new product lists for around a million dollars, but Siemens is prepared to negotiate, Sheehan said.

The system is manufactured in China by Siemens Mindit, a joint venture formed between Siemens and Mindit Instruments, a Chinese manufacturer of permanent magnets (SCAN 5/22/04). The Magnetom C! will be sold into markets around the world, but it will have a special place in the U.S. Sheehan hopes the fledgling system will bump up Siemens' market share at least a couple percentage points in the open MR market. The company is specifically targeting Hitachi's Airis II, a 0.3T system.

"The U.S. market prefers more field strength," she said, "even if it is just a little more."

Visually, the Magnetom C! looks similar to the Concerto, offering 270û access and a compact pole diameter of 54 inches. This configuration will allow many exams to be conducted with the patient's head outside the magnet.

"The smaller the pole, the more likely someone's head is going to stick out on a lumbar spine exam," she said.

Lumbar spine exams are the second most popular type of study done in MR, according to Sheehan. There is no way to avoid having the patient's head inside the magnet during the most popular exam, brain imaging.

"This is the most claustrophobic, no matter what system you go into," she said. "And that is the point of our Espree. If you are going to put something over your head, you might as well get into a 1.5T with an open bore."

The Espree bore measures 70 cm (2.3 feet) in diameter and offers 30 cm of headroom from patient nose to scanner bore ceiling. It is also extraordinarily compact, measuring just 125 cm wide, about four feet. More than 60% of exams can be completed with the patient's head outside the bore (SCAN 7/30/04).

The Magnetom C!, with its clam-shaped design, addresses the more traditional open MR marketplace. It supports multichannel imaging with the placement of as many as four coils simultaneously. Some, including the head, body, and knee coils currently available for use on the Magnetom C!, have four channels. The system also offers isocenter imaging using 24 mT/m gradients with a slew rate of 55 T/m/sec.

Like its more powerful Siemens siblings, the Magnetom C! offers the syngo interface and Phoenix technology for exchanging clinical protocols. Advanced techniques include 2D PACE (prospective motion correction) to reduce motion artifacts and allow free-breathing abdominal studies, inline technology for processing instead of postprocessing, and iPAT (integrated parallel acquisition technology) for enhanced spatial and temporal resolution.