Terason prepares introduction of miniaturized ultrasound scanner

February 2, 2000

Advances in computing technology continue to drive the development of small, hand-held ultrasound scanners. The latest firm to join the race is Terason, which has developed a full-function ultrasound scanner that fits completely inside a probe.Introduced

Advances in computing technology continue to drive the development of small, hand-held ultrasound scanners. The latest firm to join the race is Terason, which has developed a full-function ultrasound scanner that fits completely inside a probe.

Introduced at the 1999 RSNA meeting, Terason 2000 weighs just 8 to 10 ounces, and includes front-end image pulser/receivers, a 128-channel digital beamformer, and a scan converter all in one unit. The system supports B-mode, color, power, and spectral Doppler scanning. Linear, curved linear, and phased array formats are available.

The ultrasound probe then connects via a FireWire to any PC that runs on Microsoft’s Windows NT 4.0 or higher, making PCs capable of becoming ultrasound systems simply by clicking on an icon, said Kerr Spencer, senior vice president of marketing and sales for the Burlington, MA-based firm.

“We wanted to leverage the revolutions in the PC and communications industries, and make ultrasound a plug-and-play system like a digital video camera,” Spencer said.

A local information management system is available, as is DICOM 3.0 support. Users can also perform image measurements, report generation, printing, and text annotation. In future developments, Terason will add M-mode imaging, tissue harmonic imaging, voice recognition software, and telemedicine capabilities.

To accomplish the task of combining all ultrasound functions into such a small space, Terason employs advanced application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and low-power technologies, he said. The firm’s proprietary charge domain processing (CDP) technology combines high-speed, low power sampled, data charge domain components with CMOS digital control and memory circuits. The result is a new type of microelectronics that provides fast computation capability, low power consumption, and easy integration into PC operating systems, according to the firm.

Clinical testing is under way at several sites, and Terason is in the process of setting up a clinical advisory board. The company is still evaluating its distribution model, but will likely market Terason 2000 through a mix of direct and dealer sales, both in the U.S. and in Europe and Asia, according to Spencer. Terason is also interested in setting up an e-commerce capability for system sales.

The system will range in price between $25,000 and $50,000. First customer shipments are set to begin in June. The vendor received Food and Drug Administration 510(k) clearance for Terason 2000 in November 1999.

While Terason believes that Terason 2000 is suitable for such traditional ultrasound applications as radiology, cardiology, ob/gyn, and urology, the company also hopes the system will be implemented in environments such as emergency rooms, intensive care units, and surgical suites. Terason’s new clinical advisory board will help develop educational programs for these sectors as well as identify other target markets for the system.

“We believe this is also a new product for new users,” Spencer said.

Terason is a division of Teratech, a spin-off of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory that was formed in 1994. Other divisions of Teratech are active in developing sonar applications and digital signal processing for the military. Teratech has received funding from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).