Sterling readies DirectRay for prime time

Sterling Diagnostic Imaging (Hall A, #5136) is putting the pieces of its sales and marketing puzzle together for its DirectRay x-ray digitization technology, which the Greenville, SC, company plans to begin marketing in 1998. Sterling will discuss its

Sterling Diagnostic Imaging (Hall A, #5136) is putting the pieces of its sales and marketing puzzle together for its DirectRay x-ray digitization technology, which the Greenville, SC, company plans to begin marketing in 1998. Sterling will discuss its new alliance with Fischer Imaging of Denver to manufacture completed DR systems and will also feature the latest clinical images collected with the detectors.

The biggest news in Sterling's booth will most likely be the Fischer relationship. The two companies announced on Nov. 18 a partnership in which Sterling will provide Fischer with DirectRay detectors that will be integrated with Fischer components to create finished products. Sterling will market the resulting systems under the brand name iiRad, while Fischer has rights to sell the systems under its own label.

The first iiRad system will be a digital chest unit on display in the booths of Sterling and Fischer. Sterling will also show a digital version of Fischer's Traumex ceiling-mounted x-ray system that uses DR detectors. Fischer filed a 510(k) for DR in August.

While Fischer will manufacture finished systems sold through Sterling, Sterling will be able to offer the detectors as components to OEMs. The company also plans to offer DR detectors to the installed base of x-ray systems as a retrofit upgrade.

Sterling decided to change the name of its digitization technology to DirectRay from Direct Radiography due to confusion over of the use of the latter term, according to Gary Sadow, vice president of electronic imaging. The company believes that its amorphous selenium-based detectors are the only true direct-to-digital technology, which differs from the indirect x-ray conversion method used by amorphous silicon detectors, Sadow said.

Sterling plans to integrate DR into PACS networks, and the company will demonstrate its progress in building a comprehensive PACS product line through OEM agreements with software developers. Because DR images contain about 16 MB of data, compared with 10 MB in conventional film, the company is working on specialized monitors that would be dedicated to reading DR exams, Sadow said. These monitors would feature 8-megapixel displays, compared with the current state of the art, which is 5 megapixels.