Toshiba touts 64-slice CT, new x-ray launches

CHICAGO - The RSNA show is serving as a platform for Toshiba America Medical Systems of Tustin, CA, to showcase the Aquilion 64 64-slice CT scanner that the company introduced earlier this year. The vendor is also highlighting new x-ray systems, gradient upgrades for its Vantage 1.5-tesla MRI scanner, and enhancements for its Aplio and Nemio ultrasound scanners.


Aquilion 64 is in the spotlight at Toshiba's both. Toshiba has made 10 installations of the 64-slice system since it started shipping earlier this year, and hopes to have 50 installations of 32-slice and 64-slice Aquilion scanners by March 2005, according to Doug Ryan, director of Toshiba's CT business unit. Aquilion 64 is also available in an Aquilion 64 CFX dedicated cardiology version.

Toshiba made cardiac imaging a point of emphasis in its CT business in 2005, and the company is touting the system's 2-mm resolution at 0.3% Hounsfield unit tissue density. In a bit of fortuitous timing, the company received 510(k) clearance just prior to the RSNA show for its SurePlaque technique for measuring coronary and peripheral artery plaque.

Toshiba is also discussing its efforts to simultaneously improve signal-to-noise ratio while reducing radiation dose. Putting a larger generator on Aquilion 64 to increase SNR would have resulted in an increase in radiation dose, so instead the company has worked on reducing detector noise, Ryan said. One technique, Boost 3D, is a 3D streak-artifact reduction algorithm, while quantum denoising is a smoothing algorithm applied to all data generated by Aquilion.

With cardiac imaging the point of emphasis in 2004, Toshiba will move to oncology CT applications in 2005, Ryan said. To that end the company is using the RSNA show as a launch pad for Aquilion LB, a work-in-progress CT scanner designed for dedicated oncology applications. The unit features a 90-cm bore, a 70-cm acquired field-of-view, and an 85-cm display field-of-view. The company expects FDA clearance for the system in early 2005, with commercial shipments to begin at next year's meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO).

Toshiba is demonstrating a 256-channel Aquilion system as a work-in-progress on panels in its booth. Two Aquilion 256 scanners are operating in Japan on a research basis, Ryan said. The system uses a 256 x 0.5-mm detector array, and early research indicates that the units are capable of collecting 4D (dynamic 3D) images of the heart. This could be useful for applications such as whole-heart myocardial perfusion, or simultaneous arterial and venous subtraction studies in the brain.

You probably won't see Aquilion 256 at an imaging center near you any time soon, though -- due to the massive computing power required for the scanner, a commercial system might carry a list price in the range of $3.5 million, compared to around $1.6 million for an Aquilion 64 right now, Ryan said. Toshiba is waiting for chip manufacturer Intel to release its Pentium 10 chip with the processing power to handle such large datasets more economically than supercomputers before the scanner can become a commercial product.

Finally, Toshiba announced a collaboration with a number of luminary academic sites for a multicenter clinical study on CT coronary angiography imaging. The purpose of the CorE 64 study is to validate multislice CT as the primary diagnostic tool for detecting cardiovascular diseases and defects, according to the company.


Toshiba has launched new gradient packages for its short-bore Vantage 1.5-tesla scanner. The packages range from AGV, with an amplitude of 30 mT/m and a slew rate of 50 mT/m/sec, to ZGV, a work-in-progress package with a maximum amplitude of 33 mT/m and a maximum slew rate of 200 mT/m/sec. The gradients are available as upgrades to scanners in the field, according to Bob Giegerich, director of Toshiba's MR and nuclear medicine business unit.

Two new imaging packages being shown for Vantage include Fat Free, which enables better fat-saturation imaging, and Freeze Frame, for improved temporal resolution with differential k-space. The latter uses Toshiba's SPEEDER parallel-imaging technique. Toshiba is also showing a knee chimney coil for conducting studies with the knee or foot in the normal flexion position.

Duo (dual-uniform overlay) is a new Vantage technique that combines two SPEEDER torso coils for conducting high-resolution imaging with 60 cm of coverage. The technique is an alternative to using a series of specialty coils, Giegerich said.

Toshiba is also demonstrating cardiac analysis software from Medis of the Netherlands, as well as Kirkland, WA-based Confirma's CADStream software for MR breast imaging. Both applications are available on the Vitrea 2 workstation (Vital Images, Plymouth, MN) that is used in conjunction with Vantage. Two other applications that Toshiba is highlighting include FBI (fresh blood imaging), which uses blood as its own contrast agent, and body diffusion, which provides PET-like images.

For the Ultra 0.35-tesla superconducting open scanner, Toshiba demonstrated a concept system painted in a sky-and-clouds motif for installation at pediatric facilities. Toshiba has taken orders for two of the systems, Giegerich said. The company is also demonstrating an in-room monitor for following MR fluoroscopy studies during interventional procedures.

Toshiba is also showing new vvP (velocity, volume, and power) gradients for Ultra that feature an amplitude of 25 mT/m and a slew rate of 100 mT/m/sec. The company has rewritten the scanner's software to take advantage of the power of the new gradients, Giegerich said.

In marketing developments, Toshiba is launching a new program designed to entice users of competing open MRI scanners to trade their systems in and buy an Ultra for $600,000, less than the usual $700,000 list price of an Ultra.

Finally, Toshiba is launching Opart-O, a dedicated orthopedic version of the Opart 0.35-tesla open scanner. The unit comes only with the coils that are necessary for orthopedic imaging, according to Giegerich.


A new 4D imaging package is being launched for Nemio, Toshiba's midrange ultrasound scanner that's targeted at the private-practice market. The package includes 375PVM, a new 4D transducer with an ergonomic design intended to reduce operator fatigue, according to Gordon Parhar, director of ultrasound marketing.

Toshiba is introducing 4D imaging on Nemio prior to its high-end Aplio scanner due to demand for the technology in ob/gyn and other private-practice offices, where many physicians are using the technology for prenatal imaging. The package will begin shipping in December, and will also include a measurement component, Parhar said.

For Aplio, Toshiba is highlighting Aplio xV, a new version of the scanner that features expanded visualization capabilities. One such capability is differential THI (tissue harmonic imaging), a harmonic imaging package designed for larger, hard-to-image patients, and for scanning organs such as the liver and kidneys, where ultrasound penetration is an issue. Quick Scan is an Aplio xV technique that provides one-touch optimization of imaging parameters.

Toshiba has also moved to flat CRT displays for Aplio xV, after finding that CRT technology still offers better resolution than the thin-film transistor displays that are appearing on many ultrasound scanners, according to Parhar. For a limited time, Toshiba is also including its iAssist remote controller in Aplio xV configurations. iAssist reduces sonographer strain and body fatigue during exams, according to the company.


Kalare is a new radiography/fluoroscopy system that's being launched at the RSNA show. The system was designed to address the larger patients that hospitals and imaging centers are increasingly seeing, with a table limit of 350 lb when in motion and 400 lb when positioned flat, according to Allen Berthe, x-ray product manager. The system also features a 21-inch distance from the tabletop to the image intensifier, larger than previous Toshiba R/F systems.

Kalare has a redesigned user interface and a programmable color LCD that enables users to control the generator at tableside. It also features an upgraded dose management system, with 21 possible dose options, Berthe said. Five Kalare systems have been installed in the U.S.

T.Rad Plus Digital is a new digital radiography version of the company's T.Rad Plus system. The unit can be configured with one or two 17 x 17-inch digital panels for large anatomical coverage, and has a C-arm design that enables it to conduct exams with or without a patient table. The first T.Rad Plus Digital installation was made in November at Kuakini Hospital in Honolulu.

In vascular imaging, Toshiba has added a 3D capability to its Infinix VC-i system by incorporating a Vitrea 2 workstation from Vital Images. The system is capable of imaging vessels 1 mm and smaller with a high level of image quality and detail, according to the company, and its image reconstructions are volume renderings rather than surface renderings.

Infinix VC-i 3-D has a new architecture based on dual PC processors, and can be upgraded to a flat-panel digital configuration when Toshiba finishes commercial development on the panel. Like some other Toshiba products, the unit uses a Vitrea 2 workstation.

By Brian Casey staff writer
December 1, 2004

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