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Special report: C-Arm technology is in a foot race

by Olga Deshchenko, DOTmed News Reporter | April 04, 2011
From the April 2011 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

When it comes to the system, users often comment on the form factor, says Anita Eaves, the company’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. Typically, a hand surgeon using an image intensifier puts it under the arm board, but an FD can go right on top of it. “What that does is reduce procedure time in a case because they’re not moving [the system] in and out; they’re leaving it in the field,” she says.

Because the flat detector can be left in the surgical field during the procedure, surgeons are also employing the system in some cases where it hasn’t been used before, such as foot, ankle and knee cases. Since it’s moved around less, there’s less risk of a breaking the sterile field, says Eaves.

Like Ziehm and Philips, OrthoScan is confident FD on mobiles is the future of this market segment. In fact, this summer, the company will launch a small, self-contained extremity imaging device with a flat detector. Weighing in at about 30 pounds, the device will be marketed towards the orthopedic office and clinic environment.

The system can be moved around in a suitcase on wheels, with wireless capability to send and receive images to devices such as the iPad. “We believe it’s the first product of its kind,” says Robert Morocco, OrthoScan’s CEO.

Step back FD, II is still king
While some vendors tout their FD mobile C-Arms, others continue to focus on and enhance their image intensifier-based systems.

In 2007 GE was locked out of the C-arm market when the FDA determined that CGMP (current good manufacturing practices with the OEC C-arm were deficient at OEC facilities in Salt Lake City, Utah and Lawrence Massachusetts. Taking quick action to correct the issues, GE has come roaring back into the market. Last year was a strong one for GE Healthcare, as it got its full-sized C-Arm portfolio back in the United States and saw a return to more than 70 percent market share, according to Elizabeth Usher, the company’s chief marketing officer for surgery.

GE says its research shows that flat panel technology works well in a fixed room but is not yet ready for mobile systems because it lacks the cooling and power boost capabilities of a fixed installation. Plus, a mobile FD system isn’t for everyone. “For some patients with smaller anatomy, you could get very good image quality with a flat panel on a mobile system,” says Usher. “But if you look at patients with denser anatomy and more difficult patients, the DQE ratio is actually better on the II for the majority of those patients.”

Joe Shrawder, the company’s president and CEO of surgery, adds that in order to obtain good image quality, an FD system may require more X-ray dose, considering the size of patients that’s prevalent in the United States and the Western world. The company says it doesn’t want to rush to the mobile FD market; instead, it wants to develop a system that can accommodate a wide range of patients with no compromise on image quality and dose.

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