Convention Spotlight

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A variety of new systems and products debuted at the 51st annual meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine in Philadelphia from June 19th through 23rd. Here is a sampling of what was on display on the exhibit show floor.

This year's meeting was the first Society of Nuclear Medicine show for the newly aligned GE Healthcare (formerly GE Medical Systems) after its acquisition of Amersham plc in April 2004.

GE showcased advanced cardiac applications of its Discovery ST PET/CT system. Designed for cardiac imaging, the system aids in detecting coronary atherosclerosis earlier and define more-effective therapies.

HeartFusion aligns the vascular coronary tree created by CT images on the three-dimensional (3D) functional data from PET images. Together, Discovery PET/CT with heart fusion allows physicians to quantify and analyze the impact of atherosclerotic lesions on heart muscle.

GE launched its second-generation Infinia nuclear medicine system. The company said it expects to install more than 250 systems by the end of the year.

Enhanced features of the next-generation system include: a 5-mm CT axial resolution with Hawkeye for enhanced single photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography (SPECT/CT) lesion detection; fan beam collimation for brain SPECT scanning efficiency and resolution, and a camera-based positron emission tomography (CBPET) option for extended clinical utility. New detector motions have been added as well to accommodate more patient positions and enhanced productivity, including a camera controlled graphic user interface.

GE introduced its new cyclotron technology designed to help produce a high capacity 18F-F2 target. 18F-F2 is a critical starting point in production, by the electrophilic route of F-DOPA, which is showing potential in the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. Research using F-DOPA is currently underway at major institutions.

The development is the result of a major collaborative effort with Imanet, a joint venture that began with Amersham plc and a number of PET research centers, and now continues with GE.

Siemens Medical Solutions at SNM 2004 unveiled TruePoint SPECT/CT. The system, which integrates Siemens' SPECT with its CT technology, can be used in the diagnosis and treatment for cancer, cardiac and neurological diseases. In cardiac applications, TruePoint SPECT/CT will provide information about cardiac function and overall health with its ability to measure attenuation correction with diagnostic multislice CT.

Siemens also introduced the Symbia platform for its TruePoint SPECT/CT. The Symbia platform enables clinicians to utilize the device in three ways to perform three separate studies - SPECT, multislice CT and SPECT/CT. Symbia offers various multislice CT configurations with speeds of up to 0.6 seconds per rotation.

From its family of nuclear medicine products, Siemens demonstrated its biograph PET/CT system. Key features include HI-REZ, a high resolution PET option that can provide greater than 250 percent improvement in volumetric image resolution; the Pico-3D option which provides ultra-fast detector electronics that substantially improve image quality; and a six-slice CT biograph companion to existing two- and 16-slice configurations.

Siemens also unveiled a host of tools that broaden its nuclear medicine system capabilities, and facilitate multi-modality integration. e.soft@LEONARDO is a multi-modality workplace that enables post-processing of images from nuclear medicine, CT, MR, and x-ray, as well as images used for radiation therapy planning. The syngo FusedVision3D is a set of three-dimensional (3D) visualization tools for evaluating multimodality studies. This application offers special image layout for viewing of PET, CT and fused PET/CT images in one display.

Toshiba America Medical Systems Inc. featured at SNM 2004 upgrades to its e.soft software now available on the company's Signature Series variable angle, dual-detector gamma camera system. The new versions include e.soft version 3.5 and e.soft express version 2.0. e.soft version 3.5 improves's clinical applications by enabling the use of the quality-control activity to motion correct data acquired through profile attenuation correction.

Version 3.5 offers broker activity, which is designed to simplify the integration of third-party applications into the e.soft workflow environment, and the new capability of capturing print areas in JPEG, BMP or EMF formats or any cine in an AVI format.

The (optional) e.soft express version 2.0 is remote viewing software designed for cardiac data and general nuclear medicine and PET/CT data. The e.soft express Cardiac has been optimized for remote viewing of cardiac quantification analysis data. Also available is e.soft express viewing for general nuclear medicine, and PET/CT data with complete workflow functionality, print and save screens, and DICOM support for third-party data viewing.

Philips Medical Systems used SNM 2004 to springboard its new SPECT/CT system. Philips' Precedence SPECT/CT is one of the first hybrid SPECT systems that combines diagnostic CT. It is available in both 16-slice and 6-slice configurations. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration, Philips says the system will be installed at its first beta site at Johns Hopkins in a few months. It will be commercially available in 2005. Philips says the 16-slice system will cost approximately $1.4 million.

Philips also highlighted JETStream Workspace, a nuclear medicine workstation that integrates display, processing, review, reporting and image archiving technologies. Astonish is Philips' software that is designed to sharpen resolution in total body and other planar procedures as well as provide diagnostic quality images in clinically practical processing times.

Philips' PET/CT scanner Gemini, integrated in the company's Brilliance 16 Power CT system, is now available in a mobile setting. As the latest addition to the Gemini cardiovascular applications portfolio, Gemini CV PET incorporates gated acquisition with Emory Toolbox PETtools for quantitative analysis in PET myocardial perfusion and viability imaging.

Additionally, Philips announced several product upgrades, including the Forte Gamma Camera with JETStream, CardioMD with Vantage PRO and various features to its SKYLight 3.0 gamma camera system.

On the exhibit floor at SNM 2004, Hitachi Medical Systems America Inc. (HMSA) introduced a new PET/CT hybrid imaging system called Sceptre P3. The system combines three technologies in one: Lutetium oxyorthosilicate (LSO) PET technology, HMSA's fast quad-slice CT and the connectivity of AVIA PACS, Hitachi's advanced visualization and image analysis workstation. AVIA PACS offers DICOM connectivity and provides the framework necessary to connect various modalities.

In addition, HMSA revealed its "Evolve" program which allows a field upgrade path from the Sceptre dedicated PET system to the works in progress Sceptre P3 PET/CT. The Evolve upgrade will be available to all existing Sceptre installations as well as forward production Sceptre systems.

The Sceptre P3 PET/CT imaging system is pending Food and Drug Administration clearance and is not currently available for sale in the U.S.

CTI Molecular Imaging Inc. launched a new division, CTI Molecular Technologies Inc. (MTI), and inked a definitive agreement to acquire Concorde Microsystems Inc.

MTI is CTI's new biomarker research and development entity. Through the discovery of new molecular biomarkers and the development of molecular synthesis and biological screening platforms, CTI says MTI will fuel growth in diversity of molecular diagnostics with PET.

MTI completed the purchase of Concorde Microsystems, a provider of small-animal PET systems for imaging laboratory animals used in medical research. The acquisition will increase CTI's capabilities in the research and pharmaceuticals markets.

In combination with its PETNET Solutions national network of radiopharmaceuticals, CTI says it intends to leverage the acquisition of Concorde to accelerate the discovery of new molecular imaging biomarkers for the clinical market.

PETNET introduced at SNM 2004 a new training resource for interpreting physicians, referring physicians and technologists called "PET/CT University."

PET/CT U is available through PETNET's Reveal Network Solutions (RNS) and is a wed-based, interactive educational resource. PETNET customers purchasing their Success offering, including FDG and provider marketing tools, will have access to the online resource. With this tool, a PET provider has access to more than 180 PET/CT cases.

Codonics exhibited side by side its Horizon Ci and Horizon SF medical imagers for nuclear medicine and multimodality imaging.

The Horizon Ci is a desktop dry film imager that produces diagnostic quality medical films in three sizes. The unit is designed for the PET/CT and SPECT market since it prints large format CT. The Horizon SF multimedia dry imager is a small format coloring/grayscale machine intended for nuclear medicine departments and clinics.

Codonics recently announced a software upgrade for its medical imager, version 1.8.0. In addition, the company unveiled an exclusive agreement with Philips Medical Systems to market and bundle its EP-1200 medical imager with Philips' nuclear medicine modalities.

Syntermed Inc. unveiled at SNM 2004 its FDA approved NeuroQ, a software platform consisting of quantitative tools to assist radiologists, nuclear medicine physicians and other professional interpreters of PET images with interpretation of brain scans. The unveiling of NeuroQ was made on the heels of the announcement by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that it will expand Medicare coverage of PET to include some Medicare beneficiaries with suspected Alzheimer's disease.

According to Syntermed, NeuroQ works by providing automated quantification of more than 200 standardized regions of interest and comparison of the activity of brain regions in an individual scan to regional activity values derived from a database of normal scans, through quantitative and statistical assessments.

Cardinal Health showcased at SNM 2004 offerings from both its radiation management services division and nuclear cardiology division.

From its radiation management services division, Cardinal highlighted ASM-993, an advanced survey meter. Improving regulatory compliance, the device is equipped with bar code, data log and infra-red features to minimize errors, save time and reduce paperwork. Cardinal's dose calibrator, Mark VI, is equipped with a touchscreen interface combined with Windows XP and an automated dose-drawing that calculates the correct future dose. For training and research, Cardinal featured its lineup of anthropomorphic phantoms (heart/thorax, striatal and thyroid). The phantoms test reconstruction techniques, non-uniform attenuation, and scatter correction methods using different radionuclides under realistic conditions.

Cardinal's Cardiology Solutions provides a complete package of services and resources for starting, owning and operating a nuclear cardiology imaging facility. Providers are offered a range of consulting services including nuclear pharmacy services, staffing, health physics, ICANL accreditation and department management.

In IT, Cardinal demoed SYNtrac, a department management system and CardioWriter, an ASNC-compliant cardiology report writer.

At SNM 2004, Unfors featured its nuclear educational dosimeter (NED), an instrument that measures finger dose preparation and injection of radiopharmaceuticals.

NED is an alternative to TLDs for reliably measuring finger dose. The device consists of a small sensor on a cable connected to a display unit. The sensor can measure the dose and dose rate as well as total exposure time. In addition, Unfors' NED gives users an immediate audible warning when the preset dose rates are exceeded.

Gamma Medica at SNM 2004 highlighted a new cardiac gating subsystem for its pre-clinical imaging system, X-SPECT.

X-SPECT is used by medical researchers and drug companies that perform in-vivo imaging techniques and molecular markers on animals to study disease progression and therapy. The new cardiac gating tool will allow users to accelerate their studies aimed at understanding diseases and finding a cure.

Cardiac gating is critical to imaging accuracy in the heart, as it freezes the movement of the heart during its expansion and contraction phases.

Together with Siemens Medical Solutions, its U.S. marketing partner, Gamma Medica sells its MicroSPECT products to bio-pharmaceutical companies, research hospitals and universities.

InSight Health Services Corp. set up at SNM 2004 to showcase its diagnostic imaging, treatment and management services related to nuclear medicine. A provider of services in imaging diagnostics ranging from MRI to lithotripsy, the Lake Forest, Calif.-based company says 12 percent of its business is dedicated to mobile and fixed-site PET and PET/CT scan services.

InSight offers medical providers the necessities they need for starting, sustaining and/or growing its PET imaging service. Fifty percent of its customer base uses mobile PET coaches, while 50 percent are actually fixed imaging sites.

MedImage highlighted at SNM 2004 future enhancements that are in the works for its MedView nuclear medicine/PET display software. MedView is an interactive display program for medical imaging departments and clinics and it is part of MedImage's display and reporting package called DELTAmanager.

The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based company said that a DICOM CD printing feature is one of the enhancements that it hopes to release within a couple of months.

Additional upgrades to the software that will be released later this year include new layouts for its Flex Tomo window and volume registration and image fusion.

MedView reads data originating from multiple nuclear/PET vendors in native or DICOM file format. File classes include static, dynamic, SPECT, gated SPECT, results screens and whole body images. The software is equipped with a variety of image manipulation tools, image storage ands management capabilities and image output functions.

Segami Corp. featured StereoVue on the SNM 2004 show floor. The work-in-progress is a stereo projection system that allows multiple users to simultaneously view 3D data wearing polarized glasses under normal room light conditions.

The projector system, marketed by VizEverywhere of Glen Allen, Va., is compatible with most stereo-enabled graphic cards and together with Segami application software provides for in-depth viewing perspectives of medical image data. The company says that stereo imaging allows for better localization of tumors, treatment planning and cath lab procedures.

Segami's flagship product, the Mirage workstation, also made center stage at the show. The workstation is compatible with virtually all vendors' DICOM compliant medical imaging equipment

Numa Inc. was at SNM 2004 to showcase its recently introduced NumaStore DVD Image Management System.

The medical image management device meets the specific needs of nuclear medicine, nuclear cardiology, PET and PET/CT departments. It provides secure, long-term storage while managing the flow of images throughout the nuclear medicine department and beyond.

Numa also highlighted its NumaLink 3.0 which offers DICOM connectivity between OEM workstations, between legacy non-DICOM capable systems, and support for processed/reconstructed data and screen saves. NumaLink 3.0 allows nuclear medicine facilities to make their existing legacy equipment DICOM 3.0 compatible. The company says this will facilitate the connectivity to new DICOM capable workstations, viewers, and hospital-wide PACS.

In addition, the company featured NumaList, which adds or corrects DICOM modality worklist information in DICOM image files. This enables the correct patient demographic information to be added to the DICOM images with little or no user input. The correct information is automatically disseminated, thus reducing errors and improving efficiency throughout the imaging department and healthcare facility.