Ultrasound turns up the volume
A hot topic in the ultrasound realm at RSNA 2006 was the capabilities of volume ultrasound image acquisition that allows clinicians to view ultrasound data in greater detail than ever before. Not only does it give physicians a way to review data in some instances like MR or CT, but it enables them to review the information long after a patient has left the office. Like last year, small portable systems garnered their share of the buzz thanks to gains in being more dynamic and feature-rich. In one case, a tiny ultrasound system that can fit in your pocket acts like a little (although highly sophisticated) stethoscope; another portable system is so rugged it can handle the rugged terrain of Mount Everest; and yet another is able to go to a patient's bedside and quickly transmit its images via a wireless connection to a server for safe keeping and review.

GE Healthcare showcased the LOGIQ 9 premium ultrasound system, with Speckle Reduction Imaging in High Definition (SRI-HD), which reduces the graininess; Tomographic Ultrasound Imaging (TUI) grants access to simultaneous views with adjustable thicknesses of multiple slices from a volume data set; and OSI (Organ Specific Imaging). The company also demonstrated its:
  • The Voluson E8, the latest in GE's Voluson ultrasound platform, which includes Sonography based Volume Computer Aided Diagnosis (SonoVCAD); and 
  • Voluson i technology, the first 4D compact ultrasound system designed specifically for women's healthcare.

Hitachi Medical Systems emphasized the mobility of its systems that can fit any hospital location. Most importantly, the company offers a variety of curved, linear, phased, and radial array tranducers — designed for either general or specialty use. Highlighted features include simultaneous real-time biplane, fingertip/fingertop shapes, and 200-degree endfire probes.

Medison America demonstra≠ted its top-line black and white ultrasound system, the SonoAce X4. The system features full-spectrum imaging, synthetic aperture, tissue harmonic imaging, a high dynamic range of 150 dB, free-hand 3D and 3D multiplanar imaging, as well as speedy scanning. The system also offers post gain control and high-resolution zoom, the company said.

Philips iU22Royal Philips Electronics emphasized the latest additions to its Philips iU22 ultrasound system designed to shorten exam times, expand the clinical utility of volumetric imaging and provide new tools for interventional procedures. This is driven by customizable protocols, and the system's iSLICE intelligent slicing technology that uses volumetric datasets to provide progressive views of anatomy with one sweep and helps clinicians quickly find the best views for diagnoses.

Siemens Medical Solutions displayed its new ACUSON P10, a pocket-sized ultrasound system. The system is pending FDA clearance. Essentially, it acts as an ultrasound stethoscope and could have practical use as a triage device. Also on display was the company's ACUSON Antares system, premium edition, which will offer advances in breast ultrasound technology with elasticity imaging technology package, which is expected to enable physicians to accurately distinguish characteristics of breast lesions.

SonoSite highlighted upgrades to its MicroMaxx that include: a new C11e/8-5 transducer, a micro-convex array for pediatric and neonatal studies and enhanced image quality for line placement and nerve visualization; an upgraded P17/5-1 phased array transducer for cardiac imaging, transcranial imaging and abdominal imaging; and enhanced wireless connectivity ó the MicroMaxx system now features an 80211b/g card.

Toshiba America Medical Systems highlighted its Aplio XG with several enhancements including new 4D technology which allows users to acquire volume data sets for subsequent, off-line review. The Aplio XG's 3D multislice view delivers sequential imaging with a presentation format similar to CT and MR. Additionally, slice thickness and the number of images displayed can be selected by the user. A new ergo-optimized control panel and 19-inch LCD also have been added to increase user comfort. The Aplio XG also is IHE-compliant for improved connectivity and workflow.

Terason launched its Terason t3000 ultrasound system based upon Teratech Architecture, which combines a front-end fusion processor with PC-based back-end data processing. The t3000 can be instantly converted from a portable unit to a cart-based system.

ZONARE Medical Systems demonstrated new software upgrades for its z.one ultrasound system, including the Auto-Opt with ZST option that is able to instantly equalize tissue gain and brightness in real time. Also, Auto-Doppler Trace is able to quickly trace the spectral Doppler waveform, which is unique, the company said, because it is able to do this without spectral Doppler post-processing parameters.