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Siemens vaults into SNMshow boosted by strong E.Cam sales


Firm believes its Q1 shipments surpassed ADAC’sThe nuclear medicine group of Siemens Medical Systems continues its remarkable rebound, powered by sales of its variable-angle E.Cam gamma camera. The Hoffman Estates, IL, division believes that

Firm believes its Q1 shipments surpassed ADAC’s

The nuclear medicine group of Siemens Medical Systems continues its remarkable rebound, powered by sales of its variable-angle E.Cam gamma camera. The Hoffman Estates, IL, division believes that it reclaimed the title of world’s largest gamma camera manufacturer in the first quarter of 1998, besting long-time market leader ADAC Laboratories.

At its peak in the late 1980s, Siemens was the largest gamma camera firm, with a global market share in the high 30% range. The company’s trajectory was interrupted in the mid-1990s, however, when it failed to develop a variable-angle dual-head gamma camera as quickly as some of its competitors, namely Milpitas, CA-based ADAC. Siemens has seen its fortunes improve dramatically since the debut of E.Cam at the Society of Nuclear Medicine conference in 1996, however, and last year the company reported a dramatic increase in market share (SCAN 10/1/97).

The company’s momentum has continued into 1998, according to Paul Ottoson, marketing manager of nuclear medicine. Siemens is enjoying a 90% increase in order volume, with more than 300 E.Cam units shipped in the past year. In addition, the company believes that its first-quarter worldwide sales of SPECT cameras surpassed those of ADAC, a claim the company makes based on comparing its own internal numbers with those of ADAC’s first-quarter results. Siemens included sales of ADAC’s Molecular Coincidence Detection (MCD) products in the analysis.

At this year’s SNM meeting in Toronto, Siemens will demonstrate its latest R&D work on keeping E.Cam competitive, with a focus on clinical trials under way for coincidence detection and attenuation correction. One highlight will be the division’s development of new crystal combinations designed to enable a single camera to image both high-energy and low-energy radioisotopes with optimal resolution.

Early research in this area conducted by Siemens and R&D partner CTI of Knoxville, TN, concentrated on a hybrid crystal for both PET and SPECT studies. The crystal was made by pairing LSO, which carries a density and photon-stopping power similar to BGO, the detector material used in PET cameras, with YSO, a compound used for low-energy imaging. Siemens and CTI have since modified the approach, however, by combining LSO with sodium iodide rather than YSO. The company cites YSO’s disadvantages relative to sodium iodide, such as its higher production cost, inferior energy resolution, and relatively unknown performance, as the reason for the switch.

“We’ve made some technical breakthroughs that allow us to use sodium iodide rather than depending on YSO,” Ottoson said. “We’re able to segment sodium iodide, as we segment the LSO, to have block detectors, much like a PET scanner. One of our challenges was to get enough light out of the sodium iodide, and now we’ve developed a reflective material that allows us to do that.”

Siemens intends to develop a hybrid PET/SPECT device by incorporating the LSO/sodium iodide detectors into an E.Cam gantry. With a 510(k) application for the device already submitted to the Food and Drug Administration, the company expects clearance by the SNM conference, and plans to ship the first alpha units in early fall.

As part of a small group of imaging vendors that offer both PET and SPECT cameras in their product lines, Siemens finds itself in a unique position in the rush to develop high-energy imaging technology: It needs to protect its PET market while staying current in SPECT. Siemens believes that there will always be a role for PET technology, however.

“We believe that coincidence will play some role in positron imaging, that it will have some applications for different indications, but certainly not all of the things that PET can do—it will never be a true PET device,” Ottoson said.

Siemens will introduce other E.Cam extensions at the SNM meeting, including imaging pallets geared toward specific indications such as scintimammography and pediatric imaging. Siemens will display Apple’s new G3 computer platform for its Icon workstation, and the company is also working on 76 acquisitions and dynamic SPECT for release later this year.

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