Toshiba touts new MRI scanners, upcoming 256-slice CT installation
By Brian Casey
AuntMinnie.com staff writer
November 28, 2006CHICAGO - New MRI scanners -- including the company's first 3-tesla magnet -- and the first U.S. beta installation of a work-in-progress 256-slice CT scanner are among the RSNA highlights in the booth of multimodality vendor Toshiba America Medical Systems. The Tustin, CA, company is also promoting a new line of x-ray angiography systems and upgrades to its ultrasound technology.
Toshiba is taking the plunge into 3-tesla MRI at this year's RSNA show with the launch of a new ultrahigh-field scanner based on the company's Excelart Vantage platform. Being shown as a work-in-progress, the system features a new magnet design intended to reduce claustrophobia, with an hourglass-shaped magnet bore that's 67 cm wide at the front aperture, 65.5 cm at the middle, and 67 cm wide at the rear aperture.
The scanner also will feature Toshiba's proprietary Pianissimo noise-reduction technology, already in use on the company's 1.5-tesla systems. The company believes that Pianissimo will prove even more valuable at the 3-tesla segment, in which scanner noise is an even greater problem than at lower field strengths. The 3-tesla Vantage is 12-18 months from market, according to the company.
At the 1.5-tesla segment, Toshiba is introducing a new scanner, Excelart Vantage Atlas, which represents a complete redesign of the company's Excelart Vantage platform. The system sports a new 16-channel 128-element radiofrequency system, as well as an expanded field-of-view and better magnet homogeneity.
Toshiba customers with older Excelart Vantage systems will be able to upgrade to the Atlas platform without swapping out the system's magnet. The system is also available with an optional 205-cm acquisition range for feet-first imaging for the entire body, except the head and neck. Toshiba announced U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for Vantage Atlas during the RSNA show.
In other Toshiba RSNA features, the company is discussing noncontrast MRI applications, designed to help imaging centers cut contrast expenses to cope with the reduced reimbursement environment when the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 goes into effect in January.
Toshiba has been building momentum in CT thanks to its 64-slice Aquilion technology, and at this year's RSNA show the company has been preparing the radiology community for the arrival of 256-slice technology, which up to now has only been in operation at a few clinical sites in Japan.
Toshiba is announcing that a beta version of its 256-slice scanner technology will be installed at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Heart Institute in Baltimore. Scheduled to go into operation in February 2007, the system will be installed at Hopkins for a limited time to acquire data for further clinical research and development on brain and cardiac applications, according to the company.
Toshiba is also announcing the details of an upgrade path to 256-slice technology for purchasers of the company's current 64-slice Aquilion systems. Customers who buy an Aquilion now will receive a fixed upgrade price for a 256-slice model when the systems become commercially available, which Toshiba expects will happen in the middle of 2008. The program should help potential purchasers budget for the technology, according to Toshiba.
In other CT news, Toshiba is launching a new V3 release for its Aquilion CT consoles that includes Automated PhaseXact, a component of the company's SureCardio package, that locates the optimal phase of the heartbeat for improved image quality, lower data storage requirements, and faster image reconstruction times.
Also on the software side, Toshiba is talking up its SurePlaque technique, which analyzes plaque through color coding and the provision of numerical quantification. SurePlaque was developed by Toshiba's advanced visualization partner Vital Images of Minnetonka, MN; the application has been available on Aquilion consoles for the past year, and has been available on Vital Images workstations since September.
In interventional x-ray, Toshiba is introducing a pair of new angiography systems in the company's new Infinix VF-i family, both of which are based on flat-panel digital technology.
Infinix VF-i/BP/FD is a biplane multiaxis system with a floor-mounted five-axis positioner and two flat-panel detectors, a 12 x 16-inch panel and an 8-inch panel. The unit is designed for the neuro and vascular interventional procedures, and supports advanced clinical applications such as high-speed 3D digital subtraction angiography (DSA) or 3D digital angiography (DA) imaging.
The other new unit, Infinix VF-i/FD, uses a single 12 x 16-inch flat-panel detector, and is designed to offer the positioning flexibility of ceiling-mounted systems in a more economical package that doesn't require the site construction needed for a ceiling-mounted unit. Users of the system can get all the patient positioning angles possible with a ceiling-mounted system without interrupting their workflow, according to the company. The system will begin shipping in the second quarter of 2007.
Toshiba is also touting clinical applications on its Infinix-i systems, including DeviceFusion, which enables physicians to confirm the placement of interventional devices after deployment, and BoneFusion, which enables users to distinguish relationships between bone and vessels. Another technology, GuideView, improves the visualization of guidewires and other devices by fading live-image backgrounds during fluoroscopy procedures.
Toshiba is also highlighting upgrades and enhancements to other systems in its x-ray product family. The company is working on increasing the static-weight table limit for its Kalare radiography/fluoroscopy system to 500 lb to better support bariatric procedures, while new components have been added to the T.Rad-Plus Digital radiography system that give technologists improved control in operating the system.
Aplio XG is a new version of the company's Aplio ultrasound platform that Toshiba is highlighting in the ultrasound section of its RSNA booth. The new version offers a series of ergonomic enhancements and new clinical applications, according to the company.
On the ergonomics side, Toshiba has added a 19-inch LCD monitor that supports angled viewing, and has redesigned the system's control panel to make it more ergonomic. The scanner is also lighter, which makes it easier to position.
On the applications side, Toshiba has added support for 4D imaging, enabling users to acquire volumetric datasets for offline review at a later time. A 4D abdominal probe is currently available, while works-in-progress 4D probes include a linear probe for breast and small parts imaging, a transvaginal probe for ob/gyn imaging, and a curved-array probe for liver imaging.
The XG platform also includes Toshiba applications found on the older Aplio model, like ApliPure, Advanced Dynamic Flow, differential tissue harmonic imaging, and iAssist.
Toshiba is also highlighting a 3D multislice viewing mode on its Aplio and Xario scanners, which the company says delivers sequential imaging with a presentation format similar to MRI and CT. Users can control slice thickness and the number of images displayed. The application will begin shipping in the first quarter of 2007.
Nemio XG represents a new design for the company's Nemio scanner, which is targeted at the private-office market. Toshiba has migrated ApliPure and Advanced Dynamic Flow to the system, and has also added a new 15-inch monitor. Nemio XG began shipping in July.
Toshiba is also using RSNA 2006 to announce a relationship with PACS developer McKesson of Richmond, British Columbia, to offer miniPACS software to facilities that don't need a full enterprise-wide PACS network. Toshiba will offer the Horizon Medical Imaging Store 100 to its customers.
By Brian Casey
AuntMinnie.com staff writer
November 28, 2006
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