Population Health

New KM MSK Ultrasound | Spectrum Dynamics Saving SPECT | Philips’ Low-Helium Magnet

“Because we’ve been eating or drinking these products, we know they’re safe for most people.”

SUNY Buffalo associate professor, Jonathan Lovell, on the inspiration behind his team’s discovery that roasted barley may be a natural alternative to barium contrast agents for the diagnosis of swallowing disorders.


The Imaging Wire


Konica Minolta’s MSK Ultrasound Update
Konica Minolta Healthcare Americas launched the SONIMAGE MX1 portable ultrasound system, intended for musculoskeletal (MSK) and orthopedic practices, interventional guidance, and outpatient centers. The new SONIMAGE MX1 replaces the nearly four-year-old SONIMAGE MH1, inheriting the same core technology and transducers, while embracing a familiar value proposition focused on power, portability, ease-of-use, and low-cost. The new SONIMAGE MX1 launches with improved image quality, made possible by its new Dual Sonic noise control technology, and usability enhancements from its updated UI. The SONIMAGE MX1 launched in Japan in March and its US release apparently begins the system’s worldwide rollout.


Spectrum Dynamics’ SPECT-Saving Launch
Spectrum Dynamics launched its CE/FDA-cleared VERITON 12-detector SPECT system, touting it as a major advancement in SPECT technology, and suggesting that it may reverse the ongoing procedural trend away from SPECT systems to PET systems. No pressure… The new VERITON SPECT backs up Spectrum Dynamics’ modality-saving claim with its 3x greater volumetric sensitivity versus conventional dual-head scanners and its more than 2x reduction in exam times. Spectrum Dynamics also placed a rare level of focus on the VERITON SPECT’s economic value proposition in the new model’s press coverage. The $1 million VERITON SPECT is much lower-priced than competing PET systems (but still 3x more than conventional SPECTs), its increased sensitivity may allow hospitals to cut costs by eliminating other scanners, and the system can allow hospitals to reduce spending due to deduced radioisotope injection volumes. Even with the VERITON SPECT system’s solid value proposition, Spectrum Dynamics will have work to do in order to accomplish its goals of reinvigorating the SPECT modality, requiring a significant effort to educate the market about its value proposition, while the company also works on its hybrid VERITON SPECT-CT system that is still pending regulatory approval.


MITA Shifts China Tariff Focus to Inter-Company Transfers
MITA continued to lobby against the China tariffs, arguing at a recent Senate Finance Committee hearing that the medical imaging industry will be “hit particularly hard by the tariffs – to the tune of potentially billions of dollars,” suggesting that these costs will come at the expense of American patients, workers, and companies. The group placed a specific focus on inter-company transfers (when a company makes a component in China and ships it to the US for assembly), in an apparent re-prioritized effort to save this popular import type from the tariffs. MITA’s focus on inter-company transfers is logical, given that we’re probably at the “pick your battles” part of the China tariff negotiation effort, these items are clearly not made by Chinese companies, and key MITA members like GE own many of their component factories in China.


Philips’ Low-Helium Magnet
Philips announced the development of its new BlueSeal MRI magnet technology that seals a small amount of helium into the magnate during the manufacturing process, significantly reducing helium consumption and helium-related requirements. The new technology reduces the amount of helium required for cooling to just seven liters (vs. 1,500 liters), eliminating interruptions often caused by cooling, reducing magnet weight by 900kg, and reducing both installation costs (due to omission of vent pipe) and helium supply costs. Given that MRI scanners consume 20% of all helium on the market (31.2% in the US), and considering all the above-listed benefits of reduced helium usage, BlueSeal is a very worthwhile advancement and should be a useful discussion-driver and value-add for Philips and its clients.



The Wire


  • GE Healthcare and assisted reproduction company, Vitrolife, announced a partnership that will combine GE’s Voluson ultrasound systems with Vitrolife’s technologies in the performance of ultrasound-guided oocyte retrieval for in vitro fertilization.
  • A recent article from The Guardian criticizing the UK NHS revealed that the UK health system has fewer MRI and CT scanners than 18 similar countries. This finding may not be surprising to those in the UK medical imaging industry, as it follows a recent report from AXREM calling attention to the country’s declining demand for new systems and ageing installed base.
  • SUNY Buffalo researchers may have found a natural alternative to barium contrast agents used to diagnose swallowing disorders, discovering that roasted barley can illuminate the throat and the gastrointestinal tract when imaged using photoacoustic computed tomography (PACT).
  • Israeli medical imaging software company, MIM Software, partnered with Spectrum Dynamics to provide its MIM-SD advanced visualization and quantitative processing software with Spectrum Dynamics’ new 12 detector VERITON CZT SPECT system.
  • An ACR study made a strong argument for seeking second opinions of breast imaging studies. The report revealed that when breast imaging specialists perform second reviews of imaging studies, 47% of second opinions were in disagreement with the original finding, downgrading 25% of lesions and upgrading 39% of lesions, while leading to an increased likelihood of identifying cancer.
  • A recent Forbes article highlighted China and Israel’s emerging leadership in medical imaging AI, due in part to strong government support, available funding, and greater access to healthcare data used to train algorithms.
  • A study published in Radiology found that 4D flow CT produced similar intracardiac blood flow patterns as the current standard, 4D MRI, suggesting that the combination of 4D flow CT with CT myocardial perfusion imaging and CT-derived fractional flow reserve capabilities could make CT “a one-stop shop imaging modality.”
  • A Signify Research post on Aunt Minnie forecast that the European general radiology market will see slower growth in the coming years, with revenue slated to increase by just 1% in 2018 due to lower digital conversion opportunities in Western Europe. There are still growth opportunities to be had, including mobile radiology (3.6% CAGR through 2022), DR retrofits (growth peaks at 10% in 2018), and analog conversions in Central and Eastern Europe, while AI-enabled systems promise growth opportunities in the longer-term.
  • Sectra’s 2018 annual report gave insights into its medical imaging strategy, revealing that the company will focus on expanding its global presence and growing its sales in lower-share regions (e.g. the US) through a combination of organic and acquisition-driven growth, while its future product investments will focus on cloud enablement and cancer diagnostics.
  • EOS imaging announced the first German private practice installation of its EOS 2D/3D full-body imaging system, placing the system at the Heidelberg-based private practice ATOS Klinik Heidelberg.



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