TeraRecon solicits scanner vendors for high-speed processing technology

Imatron to use RTR-2000 for interventional CTA Japanese company called TeraRecon that has developed a new computer architecture for ultra-high-speed image reconstruction is looking for OEM partners that might be interested in incorporating the

Imatron to use RTR-2000 for interventional CT

A Japanese company called TeraRecon that has developed a new computer architecture for ultra-high-speed image reconstruction is looking for OEM partners that might be interested in incorporating the technology into their products. Ultrafast CT manufacturer Imatron became TeraRecon's first OEM partner in the medical imaging market when it signed an agreement that will enable Imatron scanners to conduct interventional CT procedures with real-time image viewing.

TeraRecon is developing image-processing computers based on hierarchical instruction set computing (HISC), a chip architecture developed by a Dutch company that enables data processing speeds that are 50 to 100 times faster than state-of-the-art Intel chips used in the consumer PC market. TeraRecon in June opened a U.S. office in South San Francisco, CA, to spearhead the company's effort to find customers for the technology. Medical imaging is an excellent target market for TeraRecon, due to the extremely large data sets typically produced by modality scanners.

Imatron, also of South San Francisco, believes that TeraRecon's technology can help it enter the interventional radiology market by enabling clinicians to view CT images in real time as they are produced. The two companies late last month announced an agreement in which TeraRecon will provide its RTR-2000 workstation to Imatron for integration with that company's C-100 and C-150 ultrafast CT scanners.

RTR-2000 is based on 16 HISC microprocessor chips that are the processing power behind a computer that can perform 115.2 billion operations per second, reconstructing data at a rate of 17 complete images per second. This enables CT images to appear as quickly as they are acquired, with the entire image updated with each reconstruction. TeraRecon believes that its technique is faster than other CT fluoroscopy modes on the market, such as Toshiba's Aspire CI, which only updates part of the image with each reconstruction.

"It's a complete new image every 17th of a second," said Tim Frandsen, TeraRecon sales and marketing manager. "You would see (images reconstruct) like a movie in real time on the monitor."

Data will be ported from an Imatron scanner to the RTR-2000 workstation via a fiber-optic cable, and the images will appear on RTR-2000's monitor. TeraRecon is scheduled to deliver the first RTR-2000 prototype to Imatron in September, with production units scheduled for delivery in November. RTR-2000 will be available as an upgrade kit for Imatron's C-100 and C-150 scanners in the field.

In exchange for exclusive rights to the workstation, Imatron has agreed to issue TeraRecon six million warrants to purchase Imatron stock at $4.50 a share. The warrants will be issued in installments based on TeraRecon achieving specified milestones. TeraRecon has agreed to pay Imatron a total of $2 million for four million warrants, and also pay a royalty on image reconstruction systems sold to third parties. If TeraRecon exercises all of the warrants, it would hold about 8% of Imatron.

Imatron is excited about the deal because it allows the company to add a new specialty to its ultrafast technology, which up to now has been primarily concentrated on providing high-speed heart scans to detect early signs of coronary artery disease. Imatron believes that the RTR-2000 workstation will boost the company's position in the general CT market, while at the same time conferring benefits when used for coronary applications.

While Imatron has exclusive rights to RTR-2000, TeraRecon is in negotiations with other vendors for ways to diffuse other segments of its technology into medical imaging applications. For example, incorporating HISC technology into an ultrasound scanner could increase the system's dynamic range dramatically, Frandsen said. TeraRecon has also developed a filmless filing system for angiography labs that allows analog images to be digitized, compressed, and archived to magneto-optical disk at a 30:1 ratio in real time.