Vendors unveil high-efficiency CTs

March 21, 2007

Toshiba and Siemens each rolled out a new CT at the European Congress of Radiology last week. Both launches are designed to target stragglers in the marketplace still operating outdated single-, dual- and quadslice systems.

Toshiba and Siemens each rolled out a new CT at the European Congress of Radiology last week. Both launches are designed to target stragglers in the marketplace still operating outdated single-, dual- and quadslice systems.

Toshiba unveiled a new 16-slice-only platform, its Activion 16. Siemens showed a revamped version of its Emotion CT, available in six- or 16-slice configurations. Both companies' systems come in footprints that will fit the constrained space populated by the obsolete single- to quadslice hangers-on. This market niche was first targeted by GE Healthcare at the RSNA 2006 meeting with its BrightSpeed Select line featuring quad-, eight-, and 16-slice configurations.

The new Toshiba system is optimized for radiology, whereas its more slice-intensive kin, the Aquilion platform, does best at cardiology, according to Luc Bouwman, product manager for Toshiba Medical Systems CT and nuclear medicine group.

"Cardiac applications are not what many radiology departments want or need, so why deliver them a high-capacity system at high cost, when the need is at a lower performance level?" Bouwman told DI SCAN on the ECR exhibit floor. "So we specifically designed this system for this group."

Not every radiologist in the world, however, will be able to acquire the Activion. Initial plans are to focus on markets outside the U.S., according to Bouwman.

Activion 16, which will begin shipping routinely in June, is distinct not only in its orientation but in its software. With only minor interaction from the operator, a software package built into the scanner subtracts data obtained without contrast media from the contrast-enhanced data set, producing an image that shows just vasculature. At present this Sure Subtraction software is exclusive to the Activion 16, although it will likely be available on Toshiba's Aquilion platform later this year, Bouwman said.

The Siemens system is a smaller, more efficient version of the CT platform the company introduced in 1999 (DI SCAN, 11/10/99, Siemens and Philips set to unveil multislice-capable CT scanners). Siemens has since installed more than 5000 Emotion CTs in its two-, six-, or 16-slice configurations, earning the product family the distinction of being the most popular CT in history, according to the company.

The new Emotion looks quite different from its predecessor. It sports a circular rather than rectangular gantry, the slimmest of any 16-slice CT on the market, according to Dagmar Birk, product manager for the Emotion line at Siemens. The gantry allows the technologist easy access to the patient, as it has in the past. But Siemens has made room inside the gantry for storing positioning aides.

"Everything you need is right there at the scanner," Birk said.

The newly redesigned Emotion, which will be commercially available throughout the world in July, can be sited in less space than the old platform, requiring 18 square meters of floor, about the same expanse as old school single, dual, or quadslice scanners. But it does more than just fit better into the workspace; it fits better into the way work is done, according to Birk.

"We have looked into every step of the workflow beginning with patient positioning through the scanning process and data processing as well as reading," she said.

The 16-slice version can reconstruct 16 images per second, twice as many as the previous version. The six-slice Emotion can reconstruct eight images per second compared with six for its predecessor.