GE's RSNA advances include 64-slice PET/CT, HDMR

CHICAGO - A new 64-slice PET/CT scanner, a portable digital radiography system, and new high-definition MRI technology are among the highlights in the booth of GE Healthcare at this week's RSNA meeting. The Waukesha, WI, company is also showcasing new technologies in PACS, CT, ultrasound, and women's imaging.

Molecular imaging

GE is rolling out Discovery 64, a work-in-progress 64-slice version of its Discovery hybrid PET/CT platform. Discovery 64 is based on the company's LightSpeed VCT 64-slice scanner, introduced in March 2004. While previous PET/CT units have been used primarily for oncology imaging, Discovery 64 is targeted at the market for fusion cardiac imaging, according to Karthik Kuppusamy, global manager of CT, PET/CT, nuclear medicine, and advanced developments.

The scanner's fused imaging capability will be particularly useful for sites that want to combine a cardiac study using anatomical CT with a myocardial viability or cardiac perfusion exam using Discovery 64's PET component, Kuppusamy said. Radiotracers most likely to be used with the system could include rubidium or ammonia.

GE is highlighting the 2D imaging capability of Discovery 64, as 2D PET imaging has been recommended as the gold standard for cardiac imaging by the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, Kuppusamy said.

In other molecular imaging news, a new enhanced version of the company's Discovery ST PET/CT scanner is being announced, with systems deployed to four luminary sites in the U.S. and Europe. The scanners are optimized for imaging radiopharmaceuticals in addition to FDG, the workhorse PET radiotracer.

Another new molecular imaging technology on display at the GE booth is Volume Viewer Plus, software for viewing fused PET/CT images on a variety of different workstations. The application enables access to fused images on a GE Centricity PACS workstation, an Advantage Windows visualization workstation, or the scanner console. Volume Viewer Plus for the scanner console is being shown as a work-in-progress, but is available on the other computer platforms.


Taking center stage in the CT section of GE's booth is LightSpeed VCT, a 64-slice scanner introduced in March 2004. The company has installed the first system at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, and clinical images from the unit are being displayed in the company's booth. Full production will begin in first quarter of 2005.

Cardiac applications are the focus of the new scanner, which features a 0.35-second rotation time and 40 mm of coverage in a single rotation, and GE is demonstrating new clinical applications it is developing for the system. One such application is 5-Beat Cardiac, in which the system conducts an entire heart scan in five seconds, according to Brian Duchinsky, general manager of the company's CT business. The technique may help make CT coronary artery imaging routine on a clinical basis, he said.

Another new application, Triple RuleOut, is a gated chest study that's designed to help imaging facilities rule out three possible causes of chest pain in a single exam: pulmonary emboli, coronary artery disease, or aortic dissection.

Finally, Stroke Work-Up is designed to improve stroke evaluation by imaging the circle of Willis and surrounding arteries. The technique used to be performed in two studies with older CT scanners, but thanks to LightSpeed VCT's 40 mm of coverage it can be performed in a single scan.

Realize is a package of training and consulting services that GE is bundling with each LightSpeed VCT scanner to help users maximize their investment in 64-slice scanning, Duchinsky said. Realize involves about 35 days of training over the course of the first six months following a VCT installation.

GE is migrating LightSpeed VCT technology to older scanners in its product line by incorporating its Volara data acquisition system into those models, which will result in better low-contrast visualization and fewer streaking artifacts. Volara is already available on the 16-slice version of LightSpeed, and will also be used on four-slice and eight-slice systems.

In other CT news, GE is touting the next generation of its Xtream package of hardware and software enhancements for its CT line, called Xtream FX, that's nearly three times faster than the existing Xtream engine. The company also announced that it has shipped its 15,000th Performix CT tube.


GE is debuting Centricity PACS SE, a PACS configuration targeted at community hospitals and imaging centers. Centricity PACS SE blends GE's PACS software, a Clariion AX100 online storage system from EMC, and Intel-based server hardware in a turnkey setup, said Peter McClennen, general manager of global marketing, imaging, and information systems.

All software, hardware, and assembly are installed prior to shipping, speeding the deployment process, McClennen said. Centricity PACS SE includes Centricity's RA 1000 radiology application, Centricity AW Suite for visualization of large image data sets, and Centricity Enterprise Web for distribution of images and information. It ranges in price from $300,000 up to $1 million.

GE's AW (Advantage Windows) Suite is also making its RSNA debut as a combined product with the Centricity PACS network, adding advanced visualization tools directly into the Centricity PACS workstation software.

Another introduction, Centricity Digital Hardcopy, provides automated CD and DVD publishing capability. Integrated with the GE's Centricity PACS or any DICOM network, Digital Hardcopy can also be joined with film digitizers and paper document scanners, McClennen said.


In x-ray developments, GE is showcasing InnovaBreeze, a peripheral vascular imaging technique. Making use of GE's Revolution large 16 x 16-inch flat-panel digital detector, InnovaBreeze allows physicians to continuously follow blood flow, said Karl Kellar, Americas vascular marketing manager.

It also eliminates the need for external filtration, Kellar said. InnovaBreeze is available as an option on both GE's Innova 4100 and Innova 3100 systems for a price of approximately $40,000. First shipments began this quarter.

The vendor is also introducing Precision RXi, a remote radiography/fluoroscopy system. Available in both digital and analog configurations, Precision RXi features a compact size and variable speed scanning movement controlled by tableside and control room console panels, said Gerald Schulte, Americas x-ray marketing manager.

A digital subtraction angiography (DSA) option allows users to manage subtracted images and acquisition sequences in vascular and interventional protocols. Precision RXi also employs the same user interface as other Precision systems, Schulte said.

Precision RXi will range in price from $200,000 to over $400,000, depending on configuration. Shipments to North America are under way.

GE has also migrated its Revolution detector to the portable imaging domain. AMX 5D is GE's first portable DR unit, utilizing the Revolution 16 x 16-inch detector.

It also features a touchpad screen, the same user interface as GE's fixed DR units, and on-board image storage. AMX 5D will begin shipping in mid-2005, and will have a price range of $180,000 to the low $200,000s, Schulte said.

GE is also showing off Revolution XR, the vendor's new fixed-base system. Revolution XR, which will replace XR/d in GE's digital x-ray line, adds the ability to perform scoliosis and long-leg imaging, an automated tube support unit, and volume reconstruction capabilities.

Revolution XR is targeted for release in mid-2005, and will have a price range of $325,000 to $450,000.


High-definition MR (HDMR) is GE's highlight in the MRI section of the company's booth. It encompasses a package of hardware and software enhancements that GE is comparing to high-definition television in terms of its impact on MR image quality, according to David Weber, manager of global high-field MR. HDMR is available on GE's 1-tesla and 3-tesla product line, now called Signa Excite HD.

HDMR is based on what GE is calling "massively simultaneous imaging," in which the coil elements that detect signals, the receivers that digitize them, and the array processors that perform calculations are scaled together so that they can function without imaging delays. Data are processed in multiple channels in increments of 16, and the technology can be scaled for 32, 48, 64 channels and higher, according to the company.

HDMR is particularly useful for difficult-to-image patients in whom motion artifacts cause problems, such as children who can't be sedated or Parkinson's patients who have tremors. GE is discussing how HDMR works together with its Excite package of data-processing improvements, and new clinical applications like Propeller for neurological studies that are susceptible to motion artifact, Vibrant for bilateral breast imaging in a single exam, and Tricks for MR angiography of the legs. Other new features include high-resolution liver imaging with shorter breath-holds and more organ coverage, real-time MR heart imaging without the need for breath-holding or ECG gating, and a new 32-channel peripheral vascular coil.


In ultrasound, GE is displaying enhancements to its Logiq 9 ultrasound scanner, highlighted by the ability to acquire, optimize, and analyze volumetric data, said Omar Ishrak, president and CEO of GE's global ultrasound business.

Volumetric images can be acquired and constructed at speeds of up to 30 volumes per second, according to the firm. Other new capabilities included on Logiq 9 include CrossXBeam spatial compounding, Speckle Reduction Imaging (SRI), coded ultrasound acquisition, automatic optimization, and 4D transducers.

Logiq 7 has received new cardiovascular imaging capabilities, as well as GE's VoiceScan voice activation technology. GE's Tissue Velocity Imaging (TVI) and Tissue Velocity Doppler (TVD) techniques have been incorporated into Logiq 7, as has its Q-Analysis numerical scoring and mapping application. Logiq 7 is also the beneficiary of GE's Speckle Reduction Imaging (SRI) feature, Ishrak said.

GE is also discussing the fourth generation of the Voluson 730 scanner, which adds B-flow scanning, inverted imaging, and a volume measurement algorithm.

The company is directing attention to Logiq Works, which confers 3D image manipulation, gain and dynamic range adjusters, and other image manipulation capabilities. In addition, GE is displaying Logiq Book XP, which offers cardiac and surgical imaging capabilities. Logiq Book XP was introduced in September.

Women's imaging

GE is emphasizing the wide range of modalities used in women's imaging. The company discussed the clinical abilities of its Senographe DS full-field digital mammography (FFDM) unit, introduced at the 2003 RSNA meeting. The company has installed over 1,000 FFDM systems since its first Senographe digital unit began shipping.

Senographe DS supports screening, diagnostic, and interventional mammography features, which the company said provides workflow advantages to breast imaging facilities, according to Jean Hooks, general manager of global mammography and global x-ray. Advanced clinical applications under development include a tomosynthesis feature, in which the unit's tube head rotates to acquire images at different angles that can then be fused into 3D images.

SenoAdvantage 2 is a new version of the company's SenoAdvantage workstation that enables users to view images from a variety of breast imaging modalities, including FFDM, ultrasound, and MRI. The software was developed to emphasized workflow for facilities that are doing soft-copy review, according to the company.

In future research, GE is discussing its development of a next generation of flat-panel digital detectors that will be incorporated into future versions of the Senographe product line. GE will continue to use amorphous silicon as a detector material, but the new panels will feature a larger coverage area of 24 x 30 cm (versus 19 x 23 cm for the current version of Senographe DS), and will also have better detective quantum efficiency (DQE) for low-dose applications. GE expects to start clinical trials of the panels in 2005, and to introduce a product later that year.

On the bone densitometry side, the company's GE Lunar unit is highlighting recent advancements to its Prodigy and Prodigy Advance bone densitometers. One application enables users of the scanners to create predictions of the risk of fracture a patient might have over the next 10 years based on their bone mineral density score, while another determines a patient's percent of body fat based on their spine and femur BMD scans.

Finally, GE is touting its partnership with noninvasive therapy firm InSightec Image Guided Treatment of Tirat Carmel, Israel, to combine InSightec's ExAblate 2000 image-guided ultrasound ablation system with GE's Signa MRI scanners for the treatment of uterine fibroids. ExAblate 2000 recently received FDA clearance.

By Brian Casey and Erik L. Ridley staff writers
November 28, 2004

Copyright © 2004

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