Printers & Digitizers
At this year's Radiological Society of North America meeting, vendors displayed an arsenal of printing solutions to meet the needs of any size healthcare facility. Compact designs and exceptional resolution are standard features of conventional medical imaging printers, as well as high throughput capabilities for centralized and decentralized environments. Highlights included the ability for a system to print multiple modalities, including mammography, nuclear medicine and PET/CT studies, as well as support multiple film sizes. Vendors also made a splash this year with their increased options in printing media for customers, including CDs, DVDs, larger film sizes and cost-effective paper.

Array Corp. USA highlighted upgrades to its DICOM Scan Pro Plus software for the Array 2905 laser film digitizer that now offers DICOM conformance for mammography. The software upgrade saves set-up time for multi-scanner locations by allowing the export of software configurations to multiple Array units for uniform scanning applications.
DICOM Scan Pro Plus provides image orientation tools that enhance the work process of PACS by allowing scanned images to be produced at the point of digitization. The DICOM Scan Pro Plus' masking feature provides patient security and increased control over how images are stored and distributed. Masking allows users to cover information such as patient demographics so that scanned images can be presented without compromising patient privacy or HIPAA regulations. Masked images may be saved in any standard format including DICOM, or saved as a different file type for export.  

DICOM Scan Pro Plus also allows scanned films to be arranged in a user specific sequence prior to transmitting to the image server or archive. Array 2905 users can change the sort order, orientation, delete and/or undelete scanned films to assure that images sent to PACS are not just correctly associated with the right patient, but properly ordered to increase radiologist efficiency. Other features of DICOM Scan Pro Plus include moiré filtering for radiographic films that exhibit high incidence of grid lines; editing features for adding to the existing base of body parts for DICOM patient demographics; and a series of log file tools to track the success of DICOM storage and duplication.

aycan Medical Systems showcased the aycan xray-print system that prints radiology and other medical images on plain paper at near film quality and makes it possible to print images for less than 10 cents.

Users can efficiently share high quality images while reducing film costs by up to 90 percent, aycan says. The system can be connected to almost any DICOM-capable imaging modality and workstation and can be integrated into existing or new networks. The system provides presentation look-up tables that allow users to establish defaults and adjust image quality output settings for each modality individually.

The aycan x-ray-print system combines aycan's software and server with Xerox Corp. printers and multifunction systems to produce any kind of medical image on plain paper at near diagnostic quality.

Codonics used RSNA 2005 to introduce two works-in-progress, the Horizon XL and Virtua integrated disc recorder
Horizon XL is a new digital, dry long film that is available in two sizes: 14-by-36 inch and 14-by-51 inch, for use with the company's Horizon multi-media dry imager. The works-in-progress film is suited for spine and scoliosis use, long bone hip-to-ankle studies, as well as pediatric and adult spines. Digitally stitched film from CR and DR modalities can be printed on one, continuous film. Codonics said it anticipates market release in March 2006.
Another works-in-progress is Virtua - an integrated disc recorder for recording and labeling CD and DVD media with radiographic studies. The system integrates dual CD/DVD drives, a high-speed printer, a touch screen user interface, and a high performance embedded computer into a standalone DICOM peripheral that handles all medical CD and DVD recording needs. Codonics says the system will be on the market in April 2006.   

Fujifilm Medical Systems unveiled the DryPix 2000, a works-in-progress dry thermal tabletop imager that offers multiple film-size printing capability.

According to company, the system will have the capability to print 8-by-10 inch, 10-by-14 inch and 14-by-17 inch films while offering a throughput from 60 to 75 films per hour for the 10-by-14 inch size. With two film drawers and its combination of increased efficiency and high image quality, the DryPix 2000 is expected to be ideally suited for both smaller facilities with lower patient volumes, as well as larger facilities implementing PACS yet still requiring to meet limited printing needs. For those customers printing exclusively from modalities such as ultrasound or MR, and therefore requiring only one film size, the DryPix 2000 also will be available with a single film drawer. Additionally, a mobile kit will be offered to mount the DryPix 2000 on the counter top in mobile vans.

A new film, DI-HT, is in development for use in the DryPix 2000. Using Fuji's micro isolation technology, DI-HT film has extended storage stability, improved transparency and high contrast for enhanced image quality. Its increased heat sensitivity requires lower thermal head temperature for exposure and development. DI-HT film will be available in 8-by-10 inch, 10-by-14 inch, and 14-by-17 inch sizes.

Fuji says both the DryPix 2000 and DI-HT film are expected to be available mid-2006.

iCAD debuted its new the PureLook mammography film digitizer designed for the iCAD TotaLook and SecondLook product lines.

PureLook is based on iCAD's CIS device technology. Eliminating mirrors or traditional lenses enables the system to reduce image aberrations and flaws and provide optimal spatial resolution of the captured films. CIS device technology captures the content for every pixel directly from the film without any mitigating deterioration, the company says. PureLook achieves an optical density range from 0 to 4.4 capturing the optimal ranges of grayscale from the darkest mammography film background to the lightest calcification. It also provides image detail at 12 lp/mm precision, which makes it possible for the system to see small structures such as micro-calcification clusters, according to iCAD.

Kodak's Health Group highlighted a faster and smaller version of its flagship Kodak DryView 8900 laser imaging system, as well as demonstrated as a works-in-progress new software that will provide hospitals, imaging centers and clinics with an easy-to-use application for assembling images from digital modalities for printing, archiving, displaying and reporting.

According to Kodak, the newest version of the DryView 8900 laser imager features 25 percent faster time to first print. The imager, which is six inches smaller, also supports five film sizes and produces every image at 650 dpi resolution.

Kodak also demonstrated its new Medical Image Central Software works-in-progress technology, which will equip users to more efficiently assemble images into a desired format for display and printing. The software enables images to be dragged and dropped into user-designed templates. The image files can be printed on film or paper, stored on CD/DVD and/or displayed on a monitor. An image viewer is automatically written to each CD/DVD, which eliminates the needs for physicians' offices to install special software to view images.

In addition, Kodak said the new software enables printing to DICOM printers from all vendors and Windows-based paper printers. It can streamline the distribution of images for facilities that do not have a PACS, and when integrated with PACS, or a hospital or radiology information systems (HIS/RIS), it optimizes image quality and enhances workflow by combining the radiology report with selected images, the company says.

Konica Minolta Medical Imaging used RSNA to introduce a new addition to its line of DryPro laser imagers. The DryPro 793 dry laser imager - designed for mammography applications - delivers up to 4.0Dmax and 25 micron resolution.
According to Konica, the compact printer also is suited for multiple modalities in CT and MRI departments. The DryPro 793 features 120 films per hour capability, 90 second delivery of the first film, 33.75 µm or 25 µm pixel sizes, an intuitive color touch-screen user interface with web access, three film-drawer capacity, optional six-bin sorter, up to 16 input DICOM ports and 8-by-10inch or 10-by-12inch film size capacity for mammography.

Sony Electronics featured a range of printing options for various imaging modalities and specialties.
Sony's new digital UP-D897 and analog UP-897MD monochrome ultrasound printers are designed for productivity-driven medical environments. The printers deliver high-resolution output in two seconds. Both printers feature streamlined form factors, lightweight design and user-friendly controls. The UP-D897 model has a USB 2.0 high-speed interface to connect easily to a digital ultrasound system.
Shown as works-in-progress were the UP-970AD and UP-990AD models, which are designed for mobile C-arm, ultrasound, cardiac cath and other medical cart applications. The printers accept both digital and analog signals. The UP-990AD model prints on both blue film and thermal paper, while the UP-970AD printer supports paper only.
Sony highlighted the UP-D72XR compact, high-speed monochrome digital imager that is designed for use with mobile C-arms and ultrasound systems. The device supports both USB digital and parallel interfaces. A USB connection enables work in the Microsoft Windows environment. The USB interface also allows the unit to link to the Sony FilmStation dry imager. The UP-D72XR printer delivers thermal 8-by-10 inch prints on both blue film and paper.
Sony's UP-D77MC color dye-sublimation DICOM-compatible imager, with 300-dpi letter-size output, is suited for nuclear medicine applications, PET/CT and 3D CT. Utilizing a new color management technology, the imager can fine tune color output to match a display without altering grayscale values. Once calibrated, settings may be copied to other UP-D77MD printers to improve setup and deliver consistent output across all devices, the company says.
For full-motion video recording, Sony featured the DVO-1000MD medical grade DVD recorder, which employs MPEG 2 video compression to capture images. The DVO-1000MD is designed for easy integration into most ultrasound systems currently recording in a tape format. Recordings are compatible with most DVD players, including standard consumer models.