Week in review

October 30, 2007

The first drop in recent memory in demand for nuclear medicine served as the backdrop for pending advances.Features: Nuc med volume falls in 2006, show partial rebound this year Spectrum Dynamics prepares new gamma camera for market Calibration tool ensures proper radionuclide dose MR scores advance in body imaging Q&A: Consultant, manager-or both?

Features:

  • Nuc med volume falls in 2006, show partial rebound this year

  • Spectrum Dynamics prepares new gamma camera for market

  • Calibration tool ensures proper radionuclide dose

  • MR scores advance in body imaging

  • Q&A: Consultant, manager--or both?

Varian linear accelerators will be able to deliver radiation more precisely and eight times faster than other forms of intensity-modulated radiation therapy, if practitioners use a work-in-progress technology developed by Varian Medical Systems. The fledgling product, called RapidArc, cuts treatment time from 10 minutes to less than two, while better concentrating radiation on tumors and away from surrounding healthy tissues. It was unveiled Oct. 28 at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) in Los Angeles. Enhanced dose distributions are suited particularly to treat prostate and head and neck cancers. Pending FDA clearance, Varian plans to launch the product in spring 2008.

In what has become a weekly event, SonoSite launched another hand-carried ultrasound system, its fourth such system in a month. The new S-ICU, designed for use in intensive care units, was unveiled at the American College of Chest Physicians meeting in Chicago. It joins two other S-Series products--S-FAST for emergency medicine and S-NERVE for nerve block anesthesia--and a general purpose M-Turbo device. Each weighs 8.35 pounds and is built around the same computing engine and preprocessing software for optimized image quality. S-ICU enables abdominal, cardiac, and vascular scanning, as well as visual guidance of PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) and central line placements, dialysis access, thoracentesis, and paracentesis.

Focused on the aorta rather than bone, x-ray densitometry can identify patients at risk of heart attack or stroke. Researchers at Park Nicollet Health Services in Minneapolis, MN, found that a high level of abdominal aortic calcification, detected with a bone densitometer built by Hologic, is predictive of these cardiovascular events among elderly Caucasian women. Calcification was measured using single-energy vertebral fracture assessment, a technique typically applied in postmenopausal women to detect vertebral fracture. The data, extracted from lateral images of the spine, were published this month in the online version of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

Combining intravascular ultrasound and interventional x-ray systems cuts the time needed for invasive procedures by up to 40%. A time-motion study conducted at Providence Heart Institute in Columbia, SC, pegged the time for procedures done on a combination of GE Healthcare's Innova 2100IQ and Volcano's S5 IVUS system at a little over three minutes. If done on two separate devices, the procedures took about six minutes. The study was announced at the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) meeting Oct. 22 to 24 in Washington, DC.

Three thousand patients will be recruited to examine the role of intravascular ultrasound as a means to ensure accurate stent placement. The study, sponsored by Volcano, will be part of the Cardiovascular Research Foundation's ADAPT-DES study (Assessment of Dual AntiPlatelet Therapy with Drug-Eluting Stents). This prospective, multicenter registry will include at least 11,000 patients with coronary artery disease undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention using drug-eluting stents.

An upgraded Xper cardiac cath lab from Philips Medical Systems promises to unite interventionalists and cardiothoracic surgeons, at least for awhile. The new Xper includes a table optimized for hybrid procedures performed by the two specialties. Unveiled Oct. 20 at the TCT meeting, the enhancement was accompanied by the release of Philips CT TrueView, which imports CT angiography data from Philips Extended Brilliance Workspace into the Xper cath lab.

Investors loved Varian Medical's strong year-end fiscal results and its first-quarter revenue projections, released Oct. 25. Demand for shares drove up the price more than $4 after the market open. Varian reported fourth-quarter revenues grew 15% to $522 million and net orders climbed 17% to $640 million. Compared with fiscal 2006, revenues for the year increased 11% to $1.8 billion. Net orders rose 14% to $2.1 billion. For fiscal year 2007, net earnings were $1.83 per share versus $1.81.

Revenues in the first quarter 2008 are projected to climb 12% to 13% to between $434 million and $438 million. For the full year, Varian expects profits between $2.04 and $2.06 per share on a revenue increase between 10% and 11% or $1.95 billion and $1.97 billion.

QUICK HITS:

Carestream Health introduced new image fusion for PET/CT and enhanced real-time 3D capabilities at ASTRO 2007 as part of a PACS tailored for radiation oncology.

ScImage has begun providing Carestream Health portfolio an IT system for enterprise-wide management of cardiology. Company reps in the U.S. and Canada have begun selling ScImage's cardiology-based PicomEnterprise in combination with Carestream information management products.

GE Healthcare's isosmolar Visipaque (iodixanol) is associated with a significantly lower rate of contrast-induced kidney damage than Mallinckrodt's low osmolar nonionic Optiray (ioversol), according to a study presented at TCT 2007.

The acquisition announced last week of a Coral Gables, FL-based teleradiology business, Apex Radiology, will allow Franklin & Seidelmann Subspecialty Radiology to provide preliminary and final nighttime interpretations.

German device distributor Tecserena sold its fourth UpRight MR since becoming Fonar's European distributor last year. A diagnostic outpatient facility in Munich is the latest site scheduled to receive the Fonar MR early next year.

RIS Concepts will integrate a Web-based billing application into its family of radiology information systems under an agreement struck with Claimpower Medical Billing. The Glen Rock, NJ-based firm will also provide billing management services to RIS Concepts' customers.

Amicas signed 15 new contracts in Q3 2007. The roster includes hospitals, imaging centers, teleradiology businesses, and radiology groups.

First there was NightHawk. Now NightRays has joined the teleradiology ranks. Employing all U.S.-based physicians, the Houston-based service with satellite offices across the country claims an accuracy rating "averaging out at 0% errors."

Aurora Imaging Technology will formally introduce AuroraBiopsy at RSNA 2007. Compatible with major biopsy manufacturers SenoRx, Ethicon, and Hologic, the capability was featured last year as an upgrade for Aurora Imaging's dedicated breast MR scanner.

New functionality and workflow features for Intelerad's IntelePACS and InteleViewer 3-5-1 will debut at RSNA 2007. IntelePACS upgrades include a report generation and distribution module. InteleViewer enhancements include freehand and volume ROI measurements, and real-time cine support for cardiac applications.

Just days after its merger with Hologic, Cytyc is taking steps to tie up some loose ends. The new wholly owned subsidiary of Hologic is offering to repurchase outstanding 2.25% Senior Convertible Notes due 2024. The indenture governing these notes requires Cytyc to make the offer as a result of the merger Oct. 22.

A secondary offering of stock in Volcano Corporation generated $123.3 million as investors snapped up 8,050,000 shares (initially priced at $16.25 per share), including 1,050,000 sold as an underwriters' over-allotment.

The self-contained intravascular MRI system being developed by TopSpin is feasible for use in cardiac cath labs, according to research presented at TCT 2007. The Israeli firm has already submitted the data to the FDA to support a 510(k) application to market the device in the U.S.

PEOPLE:

Cindy Setum, Ph.D., has joined the Israeli firm TopSpin Medical as vice president of clinical affairs. Previously, Setum served as vice president of clinical and medical affairs at Possis Medical, where for 12 years she supervised preclinical and clinical research in catheter-based thrombectomy. TopSpin Medical is developing minimally invasive technologies that perform MR without a scanner by visualizing the coronary arteries with an MR catheter, and the prostate with an endorectal MR and ultrasound probe.