Week in Review, October 2, 2007

October 2, 2007

Imaging threats-some averted, others coming or at hand-punctuated the week.Features: CT took it on the chin during the first half of 2000, creating what one exec called the “toughest period in the industry for a decade.” It’s not looking good for Slovakia-or the rest of Europe, for that matter-as the Old World braces for fallout from a European directive that threatens to bring MR imaging to a standstill. The U.S. imaging community dodged a bullet, as Congress reauthorized the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. A pending “Medicare Severity DRG” could give CT vendors a shot in the arm, as hospital administrators look for ways to ensure that staff diagnose patients within the first 24 hours of admittance.

Imaging threats--some averted, others coming or at hand--punctuated the week.
Features:

  • CT took it on the chin during the first half of 2000, creating what one exec called the "toughest period in the industry for a decade."
  • It's not looking good for Slovakia--or the rest of Europe, for that matter--as the Old World braces for fallout from a European directive that threatens to bring MR imaging to a standstill.
  • The U.S. imaging community dodged a bullet, as Congress reauthorized the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
  • A pending "Medicare Severity DRG" could give CT vendors a shot in the arm, as hospital administrators look for ways to ensure that staff diagnose patients within the first 24 hours of admittance.

Some investors in Dade Behring were still holding their shares at the stroke of midnight Sept. 26, the deadline set by Siemens for them to accept its offer of $77 per share.

No worries. Shareholders now have until midnight EDT on Oct. 31 to change their minds. According to Siemens, there aren't many minds left to change, given that more than 80% already have sold their shares. Extending the deadline won't delay the proposed merger. Siemens is still waiting on European regulators to finish their investigation. If they give the go-ahead, expected before Oct. 25, Siemens could complete the $7 billion (EUR5 billion) merger before year's end. If that happens, any remaining shares of Dade Behring will be acquired at the tendered price.

Image intensifiers will get even more intense with an upgrade from Virtual Imaging.

The Florida-based service provider turned medical device manufacturer has the green light from the FDA to begin selling an upgrade for image intensifiers built into radiography and fluoroscopy systems. FluoroPro consists of a PC, a digital interface board that attaches to the generator, and a medical-grade 1024 x 1024 x 12-bit CCD (charge-coupled device) camera. Included with the camera assembly is a direct couple lens that decreases the amount of glass between the output phosphor and the newly installed CCD camera and improves image quality and performance in low-light conditions, according to the company.

A technology refined in outer space could land in the U.S. market for bone densitometers in a few years.

Toronto product design firm Cooler Solutions is collaborating with researchers at the city's University Health Network to commercialize technology developed by NASA to measure the strength of astronaut's bones. Unlike bone densitometers commonly used on earth, the mechanical response tissue analyzer (MRTA) will use neither x-rays nor ultrasound. Instead, it will use vibration to measure stiffness and elasticity of bones in the arm and lower leg as indicators of osteoporosis. If development goes as planned, an MRTA-based device could be on the market in five years, Cooler Solutions predicted.

Three-D can put a lot of strain on a network, which is why Massachusetts General Hospital will use a network developed by AG Mednet to transfer images from client sites to its MGH 3D Laboratory.

The hospital will return the postprocessed 3D images to clients over the same network. MGH chose AG Mednet to provide the highly reliable infrastructure needed for transferring studies with thousands of images, according to Gordon J. Harris, Ph.D., director of the MGH 3D Imaging Service and an associate professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School.

Brain tumors will be in the crosshairs of focused ultrasound, if research continues to go well in its development.

Following a review of preliminary safety data, the FDA has given InSightec the go-ahead to start the next stage of its phase I clinical trial to assess the safety of using high-energy ultrasound under MR guidance to thermally ablate brain tumors. This second stage, now under way, will continue to evaluate the safety of focused ultrasound delivered through an intact skull and to estimate its effect on recurrent and inoperable glioblastomas as well as cerebral metastases. MR visualizes the tumor and acoustic energy beam path, and provides real-time thermal feedback to assist in monitoring and controlling the treatment. A similar combination of MR and focused ultrasound to treat symptomatic uterine fibroids received FDA approval in October 2004.

Ziehm Imaging and BrainLab are hatching plans to strong-arm cancer with a combination of 3D imaging and computer-assisted surgery.

The C-arm specialist and image-guided surgery provider will build on their earlier collaboration integrating CAS and 2D fluoroscopy to hybridize Ziehm's Vario 3D and Vision, its latest 3D C-arm systems, with BrainLab's mobile platforms for 3D intraoperative imaging. This will enable surgeons, according to the companies, to perform minimally invasive surgeries with less radiation and higher accuracy.

It's back to school and Varian Medical is one of the principals.

The company has teamed up with the Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology near Liverpool to host Europe's first image-guided radiotherapy training school. Clinicians, physicists, and radiographers from hospitals in Italy, Russia, Norway, Spain, and Scotland attended the first three-day session, which began Sept. 28. The Clatterbridge Centre, an operator of Varian radiotherapy equipment, was an early adopter of the company's On-Board Imager accessory, which tracks tumor movements to better target radiation.

QUICK HITS:

Plasmon

will provide its ultradensity optical archive for sale through

Toshiba Medical Systems Europe

. The archive will complement Toshiba's StoreDirect solutions.

TomoTherapy

will pick up the costs for certain unnamed shareholders to sell nearly 10 million shares of their common stock. The company, which has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission to allow the secondary offering, will receive none of the proceeds.

Imaging Diagnostic Systems

has sold its headquarters but plans to lease the building back from the buyer. The move is calculated to reduce its dependence on equity financing, freeing up more than $4 million to finance clinical studies and other operations, according to the company.

NEC Display Solutions Europe

is bundling 10-bit display controller boards from Matrox with its new NEC MD205MG mammography display. This latest bundle delivers a resolution of 2048 x 2560 and pixel pitch value of 0.156 mm.

PEOPLE:

Two senior executives have ascended the ladder at Mindray Medical International, and a third is joining their ranks. Cofounder

Minghe Cheng

, who served previously as executive vice president of sales and marketing, is the new executive vice president of strategic development.

Jie Liu

, previously vice president of international sales and marketing, has added the term "executive" to that title.

Patrick Ma

, recruited from Fresenius Medical Care where he had been regional financial controller, is Mindray's new assistant vice president of finance.

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