Sizzling x-ray fray grows hotter

November 4, 1992

A legal dispute between x-ray vendors Bennett X-ray and Gendexis turning into a tangled puzzle that will require unravelingby a jurist with the wisdom of Solomon. The conflict recentlydrew in Continental X-ray, which has joined Gendex in disputingthe

A legal dispute between x-ray vendors Bennett X-ray and Gendexis turning into a tangled puzzle that will require unravelingby a jurist with the wisdom of Solomon. The conflict recentlydrew in Continental X-ray, which has joined Gendex in disputingthe findings of an academic study that is the casus belli forthe litigation. Continental is not a party in the court case.

The research in question is a comparison of radiation dosagesdelivered by two x-ray generators, Bennett's HFQ-450SE and Gendex'sGX-30 (SCAN 7/1/92).

Earlier this year three chiropractors at Logan College of Chiropracticin St. Louis claimed that the Bennett unit, a 100-kHz generator,produced sharper images while delivering less radiation than theGendex machine, a 6-kHz generator. The results indicated thatgenerators operating in the range of 100 kHz are more efficientthan lower frequency units, according to the authors.

After Copiague, NY-based Bennett sent out a dealer bulletindescribing the study's results, Gendex protested and receiveda preliminary injunction preventing its rival from distributingthe study further. The injunction will remain in effect pendingthe outcome of litigation over the study between the companies.A trial date has not yet been set for the case, according to aGendex attorney.

Gendex, of Des Plaines, IL, was also successful in stoppingthe authors from presenting their work at an academic conferenceand in a trade magazine by suggesting that litigation could followif the study were made public.

Gendex alleges that the study used bad science and that anyadvertising claims based on it are unsupported. Gendex also claimsthat Bennett employees helped draft the study.

Bennett denies the allegations. To support the company's position,Bennett attorneys enlisted independent x-ray physicist Duke Eldridgeto reproduce the study. In September the company unveiled theresults of Eldridge's research, which Bennett claimed confirmthe findings of the chiropractors.

Bennett promptly dispatched a dealer bulletin trumpeting Eldridge'sresults. The bulletin sparked an exchange of press releases, oneof which landed Gendex in hot water with the U.S. District Courtin Chicago where the case is being tried.

Gendex initially claimed that Bennett's distribution of theEldridge study violated the injunction and that the company shouldbe held in contempt of court. A District Court judge rejectedGendex's claims, however, and ordered Gendex to issue a pressrelease correcting any misinterpretations of the status of thecase.

The Eldridge study also prompted Continental X-ray to go publicwith its own opinion on the issue.

Continental manufactures generators that operate at 12 and20 kHz, and the company learned from dealers that the Bennettstudy was being used against Continental's products, accordingto president Patrick T. Fitzgerald.

"The implication was that (Bennett) had a safer product,"Fitzgerald said.

Continental retained a medical physicist, Melvin Siedband ofthe University of Wisconsin, who reviewed the chiropractors' dataand stated that Bennett's claims about radiation dose reductioncould not be true according to the laws of physics. Siedband alsoquestioned Bennett's use of the research in promotional materialsbefore it had been published or presented.

In addition, Continental pointed out that oscilloscope waveformtracings provided by Bennett appeared to show that the generatorshad been calibrated differently, and that the difference couldaccount for the disparity in radiation dosage.

Other than publicizing Siedband's findings, Continental hasno plans to increase its involvement in the case, Fitzgerald said.But the company is taking Bennett's claims seriously and doesn'tbelieve Gendex overreacted in going to court over the kind ofissue that is usually settled in a scientific journal.

"This is more than a scientific issue. This is a matterof safety," Fitzgerald said. "If Bennett has a productthat reduces radiation, that is scientific and should be published.But if it's based on falsehoods, it shouldn't."