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Hitachi partners with iVu for automated whole breast ultrasound

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | December 17, 2014
iVu Imaging Corporation announced yesterday that Hitachi Aloka Medical America, Inc. (HAMA) will be the exclusive distributor of its automated whole breast ultrasound system, SOFIA, in North America. This will allow iVu to utilize HAMA's wide market reach to propel its product, which has the potential benefit the large population of women with dense breasts.

SOFIA is different from other automated whole breast ultrasound systems because the patient is in the prone position during the exam rather than the standard supine position. "From a technology standpoint, we needed to be in the prone position because our goal was the capture the entire breast at one time, instead of capturing multiple acquisitions of the breast from different angles and trying to put that together," Mark L. Stribling, CEO of iVu, told DOTmed News.

During the exam, the patient lies flat down, a warm acoustic lotion is applied and her breast is put into a funnel with a built-in transducer. The system then takes only 52 seconds to scan the entire breast.

"That's a key metric for us because it seems like one of the limiting factors to adoption of automated whole breast has been its lack of ability to provide an enhancement over manual," said Stribling.

The whole exam, including both the acquisition and interpretation, takes about 10 minutes, but the exams that use competitive products take about 30 minutes. iVu was able to speed the acquisition time by building HAMA's transducer technology into the system.

iVu is a small startup based in Texas that was searching for a way to get the word out about its unique technology. The company decided to partner with HAMA because they believe that they have largest sales force compared to GE Healthcare and Siemens Healthcare.

The industry is currently grappling with the issue of dense breasts but Stribling believes that in the future, prone position automated breast ultrasound systems will become one of the standards for supplemental screening. "Our whole strategy here was to make the process more efficient, which would encourage more people to offer the technology to dense breast patients," he said.

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