Agfa expands CR, RIS/PACS portfolio

CHICAGO - Medical device and informatics developer Agfa HealthCare is introducing a collection of new products and upgrades in its booth, including a reconfigured CR line, dry laser printers, and RIS/PACS technology.


Agfa is unveiling its reconfigured CR line, the CR 25.0 and CR 75.0 (formerly the Solo and Compact Plus systems, respectively) to conference attendees. Both systems feature 50-micron resolution and an integrated quality control (QC) station. The QC stations display images from the digitizer at 6 pixels per millimeter (pixels/mm), which can be increased to as much as 10 pixels/mm, according to Agfa.

CR 25.0 is a single-plate reader system, and is targeted toward small- to midsize facilities. It is also engineered for mobile use in vans, ships, and by the military, the company said. It is priced at approximately $79,000 and is available now.

CR 75.0 is a high-speed multiuser digitizer system with a drop-and-go buffer and automated multisize cassette handling that eliminates technologist wait times at the unit, the firm said. The system is available now, and is list priced at $149,000, said Ray Russell, executive director of marketing.

Agfa is also spotlighting a work-in-progress portable personal digital assistant (PDA)-type input device for the CR systems that the company hopes to bring onto the market in 2005. The alphanumeric portable input device features a form factor slightly larger than a conventional PDA and has barcode reader capabilities for demographic input, which will reduce the possibility of medical errors, the company said.

The company is also showing a work-in-progress for its CR family, CR 50.0. The single-plate reader digitizer features an integrated QC station, and boasts a throughput of 20 seconds to scan, display, erase, and deliver the CR cassette back to the user.

The speedy throughput is achieved by utilizing light-emitting diode (LED) technology that digitizes the CR plate on a line-by-line basis. The result is an image display time of eight seconds after the cassette has been inserted into the device, according to Russell.

The firm has also developed new media for the collection of x-ray energy. Agfa CR cassettes are now using a phosphor polycrystalline substrate that has four times the energy storage time of its previous media, according to the firm. In company tests, the media was found to store approximately 90% of the signal at the end of a 24-hour period, Agfa said.

CR 50.0 features the next generation of the company's image-processing suite, Musica 2.0, and it is expected to be available in the second half of 2005, Russell said. Musica 2.0, which is also expected for delivery by the second half of 2005, reads the exposure signal from either a CR or DR modality, and applies a collection of image-processing algorithms to the image.

The application is body-part independent, meaning that a user does not have to select a particular region of the body, such as the thorax, for the software to apply image-processing features that segment soft tissue from bone. Musica 2.0 functions independently of collimation and compensates for technique, Agfa said. An upgrade path will be available to current users of Musica 1.0 when the next iteration is released, Russell said.


Agfa is introducing Impax ES for Radiology, an enterprise digital imaging system. Impax ES for Radiology includes customizable features such as display wizards and hanging protocols to accelerate the reporting process, as well as multiplanar reformatting (MPR) and maximum intensity projection (MIP) capabilities, said Lenny Reznik, senior marketing manager, radiology informatics Americas.

Users can also employ a single sign-on to access an integrated RIS/PACS/speech recognition system, as well as deploy 3D software via the software's integration with Voxar's 3D technology.

The vendor is also emphasizing Impax 6.0 in its booth. Impax 6.0, which is based on Microsoft's .NET framework, allows users to download full Impax functionality at remote computers, Reznik said.

In addition, Impax 6.0 facilitates connectivity across radiology, women's care, orthopedics, and cardiology departments with enterprise information and dictation capabilities, Agfa said. The Web-deployed thin-client package also enables IT departments to post software updates or revisions to a Web site for users to download and install.

Agfa is also announcing the release of its MediWeb thin-client radiology order communication and results distribution system in Europe, Australia, and South America. The latest version of the vendor's Impax Web1000 ES offering includes a Data Currency feature designed to aid collaboration between radiologists and clinicians, according to the firm.

In addition, Agfa is launching its new mammography diagnostic workstation, Impax MA3000. The display station is a multimodality workstation that delivers review and results distribution for all digital breast imaging studies, while also supporting access to other general imaging exams.

Impax MA3000 provides multimodality and multivendor support, and can display images from third-party PET, CT, MR, ultrasound, and digital mammography equipment, Russell said. The workstation, which has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance as well as the European CE Mark, is available now at a list price of approximately $103,000, Russell said.

Agfa executives are also discussing a letter of intent signed with U.K. medical image analysis software developer Medicsight. Agfa will integrate and distribute the firm's computer-assisted reading software, including its Colon CAR, Lung CAR, and Heart Screen packages.


In RIS news, Agfa is unveiling a RIS designed for the North American market. The new RIS includes features designed for the North American hospital and academic center markets, further integration of the firm's RIS and PACS networks, and a focus on enterprise connectivity, Agfa said. The first North American Impax RIS project was launched in October at Southern Ohio Medical Center.

The vendor is also pointing to a new RIS aimed at the U.S. and Canadian imaging center markets. As a result of the launch, imaging center customers will be able to employ Agfa's RIS, PACS, speech recognition, document management, billing, practice analysis workflow, and Web-based image and report distribution capabilities, all on one system, Reznik said.

Agfa also announced an agreement to acquire European healthcare IT provider GWI. The deal, part of the vendor's goal of becoming a global healthcare IT firm, is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close in early 2005. Agfa is paying 265.6 million euros ($340.8 million U.S.) up front for the Bonn, Germany-based firm, as well as an earn-out of up to 95 million euros ($126.2 million U.S.) depending on the achievement of specific commercial milestones.

In professional services developments, Agfa has launched a systems management and reporting service. The new service manages and monitors hardware and software through customized agents running throughout the enterprise, proactively preventing problems before they occur, said Rawa Al-Saigh, product manager.

The system generates automatic alerts to Agfa's Global Support Center and to administrators at the customer site. New management and reporting capabilities provide statistical reports with usage and performance information, facilitating trend analysis, asset management, workflow assessment, and capacity planning, according to the vendor.

Agfa is also releasing version 3.0 of its TalkStation speech recognition offering. New features include the integration of Dragon's NaturallySpeaking v7 medical speech engine and Correctionist Capabilities, which provides real-time speech recognition with on-the-fly deferral to a transcription editor.

In other TalkStation 3.0 enhancements, TeleDictation enables telephone dictation, while Auto Macros adds workflow customization benefits, Reznik said. Agfa has also incorporated an enterprise gateway and security enhancements.


On the hard-copy image front, Agfa showcased its family of dry film printers. Making its RSNA debut, the DryStar 5300 tabletop printer is a decentralized print solution that features a 70 film per hour throughput, according to Jim McLain, senior marketing manager for hardcopy systems.

The 5300 accepts both 11 x 14-inch and 14 x 17-inch film, has resident DICOM connectivity software, remote troubleshooting capabilities, and is user-serviceable. It prints at a 320 pixel-per-inch resolution, and is available at a price point of $33,900, McLain said.

The DryStar 5500 is being demonstrated in Agfa's booth. The vendor's top-of-line print system accepts 8 x 10-inch, 10 x12-inch, 11 x 14-inch, 14 x 14-inch, and 11 x 17-inch films. It has a four-bin sorter, a 100 sheet per hour print capability, native DICOM support, a 508 pixel-per-inch resolution, and is available now for $72,900, according to McLain.

Also introduced to RSNA attendees was the 4500M printer, optimized for hard-copy mammography images. The two-drawer configuration printer accepts both 8 x 10-inch and 10 x 12-inch film in both mammography and conventional media formulations. Although being optimized for mammographic images, the printer will handle DICOM images from any modality, and is available for $33,900, McLain said.

Agfa showed its new dry-film QC application, which was developed from U.S. MQSA requirements for mammography providers, McLain said. The application prints out a test film for quality assurance on various aspects of resolution and geometry, and maintains a comma-delimited QC file that can be downloaded for tracking purposes, he said.

The QC application is available now on 4500M, and is expected to be available on the 5500 by February 2005 and on the 5300 by April next year. An upgrade path for the application will be provided for current DryStar users, McLain said.

Agfa highlighted the A#Sharp image-processing upgrade to its Direct Digital Imaging (DDI) technology, a software enhancement that increases DDI's image quality capability. A#Sharp provides a sharper image print quality requiring no separation of exposure and heat processing, and performs it in a single step, according to McLain.

A#Sharp technology will appear first in the DryStar 4500, 4500M, and 5500 imagers. It will then be incorporated into the complete DryStar line over the following 12 months, Agfa said. An upgrade package will be available for existing DryStar 4500M, 5300, and 5500 imager customers.

By Jonathan S. Batchelor and Erik L. Ridley staff writers
December 1, 2004

Copyright © 2004

Page 1 of 775
Next Page