Diagnostics & Imaging Week and Staff Reports

Siemens Healthcare (Erlangen, Germany) is celebrating the 500th installation of a Somaton dual-source computed tomography (CT) scanner that was introduced less than four years ago.

A novel feature for CT diagnostic imaging unique to Siemens, the company interprets the strong sales of dual-source scanners as proof of its acceptance and adoption by the medical community.

As major competitors in radiology have raced to expand the size of arrays of detectors to render greater detail and faster captures, Siemens bet on two X-ray tubes instead, creating different, and, according to Sami Atiya, MD, CEO of CT at Siemens, superior images.

"We turned our backs on this competition for detector size," he said, "as an additional increase in the number of detector rows would not have succeeded in satisfying future clinical requirements."

The development of the Straton X-ray tube by Siemens in 2000 provided the inspiration for doubling down on the bet.

It was previously impossible to place two X-ray tubes in a single CT scanner due to their bulky dimensions, Atiya said.

Half the size and significantly lighter than conventional tubes, the Straton tube made it possible to arrange two X-ray tube assemblies and two detectors in the gantry.

Doubling the speed of a scan with dual-source CT enabled the Somaton units to capture a highly detailed image of a heart, literally, in a heartbeat, during the diastolic phase.

A second benefit was cutting the radiation dosage in half.

Later product development included generating different levels of energy simultaneously creating new data sets for diagnostic imaging that provide vivid renderings for tissue characterization and perfusion analysis opening new clinical applications for CT.

Siemens currently offers a line of 10 dual-energy CT applications used to diagnose diseases of the heart, brain and lungs as well as skeletal structures.

Siemens recently extended the high end of its portfolio with the Somatom Definition Flash, capable of scanning the entire heart in less than half a heartbeat while also reducing the radiation dose to less than 1 millisievert, compared to an average effective dose for heart scans from 8 mSv to 30 mSv.

CE mark for ThromCat XT system

Spectranetics (Colorado Springs, Colorado) reported receiving CE-mark approval for its next-generation ThromCat XT Thrombus Removal System, a single-use, disposable device indicated for mechanical removal of thrombus from native coronary arteries and infra-inguinal arteries. The launch of the product will commence immediately within the European Union.

The approval triggers a milestone payment of $1.5 million under the company's development agreement with Kensey Nash (Exton, Pennsylvania).

The ThromCat XT System is an improvement to the current ThromCat System with enhanced thrombus removal and several advancements in ease-of-use. The ThromCat XT System generates a consistent vacuum pressure at the tip of the catheter to draw thrombus into the extraction ports where it is then macerated by an internal helix. Without further contact with the bloodstream, the thrombus is then transported to an external collection bag.

The ThromCat XT is disposable and offered in 150 cm length to treat vessels 2.5 mm to 7 mm in diameter.

The first use of the ThromCat XT System occurred in a procedure performed by Danny Nguyen, MD, in consultation with Michael Haude, MD, of the department of cardiology at Städtische Kliniken Neuss-Lukaskrankenhaus (Neuss, Germany). The intervention was performed on a 70-year-old female patient with heart failure and a totally occluded right coronary artery. Thrombectomy was successfully completed with the ThromCat XT, and was followed by direct stenting of the proximal and middle sections of the artery, restoring normal flow.

Haude and Nguyen said following the procedure, "We are very satisfied with the overall performance of the ThromCat XT. In contrast to the previous version of the ThromCat, the set-up time was significantly shortened, and the device was easy to use. In addition, this new version of the ThromCat provides better pushability and trackability within the vessel. The device was able to remove virtually all thrombus from a 100% occluded vessel that contained significant thrombus burden."

Spanish distribution deal for SpectraScience

SpectraScience (San Diego) reported that it has established a distribution partnership in the Spanish market through SIM (Madrid), a firm specializing in the marketing and distribution of innovative medical devices.

Michel Vaudry, SpectraScience's VP of sales and marketing, said, "We are pleased to add another distribution partner in Europe. SIM is a respected and well-established medical distribution company and adding the WavSTAT Optical Biopsy System to their portfolio is a strong validation of the need for our technology. SIM was established in 2000 and distributes other leading gastroenterological diagnostic products from market leaders including Pentax and ERBE."

Jose Manuel Ruiz of SIM said, "We are pleased to be SpectraScience's distribution partner and believe there is significant market potential for this innovative gastrointestinal cancer diagnostic system. Our strategy is to be the leader in gastro-diagnostics and the WavSTAT Optical Biopsy System is an ideal fit with our Pentax endoscopes."

South Korean distribution accord

Naviscan (San Diego), a developer of molecular breast imaging systems, said it has entered into a distribution agreement with Hae Dong Co. Ltd. to market and serve Naviscan's high-resolution, organ-specific PET scanner in South Korea.

The agreement represents the introduction of a new tool in the fight against breast cancer in South Korea. The first unit will be installed at Seoul National University Hospital, where it will be available to physicians and researchers while awaiting Korean FDA approval.

Naviscan manufactures the only commercially available Positron Emission Mammography (PEM) imaging scanner and PEM-guided biopsy system. The scanner uses PET technology to produce tomographic images that allow physicians to visualize breast tumors down to 2 mm, the width of a grain of rice.

The scanner is the size of a mammography unit and uses gentle breast immobilization, Naviscan said, "allowing for greater patient comfort, as well as reducing motion artifact and improving image resolution."

Hae Dong Co. Ltd. is a leading Korean disatributor of radiation oncology and nuclear medicine products. Naviscan said its PEM scanner is "a fitting complement to Hae Dong's molecular imaging suite of solutions."

Naviscan Chairman/CEO Paul Mirabella said, "Hae Dong is well-known and highly regarded in the molecular imaging industry and will be an ideal partner as we establish ourselves in the Korean market."

Additional distributorships have been selected in Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia. Naviscan will be launching in those countries by 4Q09, Mirabella said. "Expanding our reach globally strengthens our reputation as a leader in innovative technology, increases our company's valuation and enables breast surgeons and radiologists internationally to provide better treatment and realize better outcomes for their patients."

Alma IT, Medicsight in collaboration

Medicsight (London), a developer of computer-aided detection (CAD) and image analysis software that assists in the early detection and diagnosis of disease, reported that it has signed a non-exclusive, software license and distribution agreement with Alma IT Systems (Barcelona, Spain), a leading developer of advanced digital medical imaging tools across Europe and South America.

The agreement will give Medicsight access to Alma's large installed base of radiology customers in key markets.

As part of the agreement, Medicsight's ColonCAD API 4.0 software will be integrated into Alma's latest Colon viewer, a 3-D visualization workstation which interprets computed tomographic colonography (CTC) image data.

Alma is one of Spain's market leaders in medical imaging technology. It is anticipated that the new product will be offered to both clinicians and PACS customers via the ALMA 3-D workstation and server-based client platforms.

Medicsight CEO Allan Rowley said, "This agreement provides Medicsight with an ideal commercial opportunity to work with Alma and further extend our reach into the European and South American medical imaging markets. We look forward to the swift rollout of the integrated technology."