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Vidar evolves digitizer technology as CAD mammography component


New systems provide continuity across modalityThe move toward a digital future in radiology will draw digitizers along with it, if executives at Vidar Medical Imaging in Herndon, VA, get their way. Flat or slow growth in some

New systems provide continuity across modality

The move toward a digital future in radiology will draw digitizers along with it, if executives at Vidar Medical Imaging in Herndon, VA, get their way. Flat or slow growth in some segments of the digitizer market, such as oncology treatment planning, teleradiology, and PACS, will be counterbalanced by a healthy overall market for digitizers, spurred largely by computer-aided detection for mammography, according to Vidar.

Full-field digital mammography systems will not be adopted immediately because of their high cost ($400,000 to $500,000), creating a need for film-based digitizers that run CAD, said Brian Beardslee, vice president for Vidar. Even when digital mammography becomes more popular, film digitizers will be needed to digitize historical film mammograms so they can be compared against digital exams on soft-copy readers.

Vidar's strategy is to build a specialized, best-of-breed digitizer components box for all mammography CAD companies.

"Mammography CAD companies will continue to enjoy business growth, and we want to supply the film digitizer portion of their business," Beardslee said.

Vidar first tested the market for mammography CAD digitizers about three years ago with its MammographyPRO plus Digitizer, which had an enhanced optical density range and 31-micron image resolution. When Vidar executives realized the device lacked the power CAD manufacturers needed, the company directed CAD system providers, engineering consultants, radiologists, quality experts, and technologists to further refine its mammography offering.

The result, called CAD PRO, was launched at the recent RSNA meeting. CAD PRO incorporates standard features found on all Vidar digitizers, such as high-definition CCD, which produces high-quality images at below laser life-cycle costs. But CAD PRO also provides 16 bits of gray-scale data, enhancing optical density range and accuracy. In addition, the unit's advanced 200-sheet film feeder eliminates jams and film pickup problems that interrupt workflow and increase costs. Its modular design allows easy maintenance and minimizes downtime.

Beardslee expects CAD companies to start adopting CAD PRO in 2003. By the next RSNA meeting, the new product will be the dominant digitizer used in mammography CAD, he said, based on the company's leadership position in the digitizer market, product quality, and overall technical support.

"We're not building a clone of what CAD companies are using today but putting together an alternative package with the right value proposition," he said.

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