SOMATOM Sensation 64: The world's Fastest CT Scanner

The SOMATOM Sensation 64 is the world's fastest and most accurate computer tomography (CT) scanner. The machine makes use of the newly developed z-Sharp technology, which combines the rapid movement of the X-ray source in the Straton tube with a 64-channel Ultra Fast Ceramic (UFC) detector design. This enables the scanning of twice as many "slices" per rotation and substantially improves the spatial quality and image resolution to less than 0.4 millimeters, which means that even very small tissue structures can be displayed in super-fine detail. The machine's gantry rotates around the patient in only 0.33 seconds while scanning 64 slices - fast enough for the CT to image even the most minute details in moving organs like the beating heart. A complete heart scan takes less than ten seconds, which is much faster than with conventional scanners. In some patients, doctors are able to detect blockages in the coronary arteries without having to insert a diagnostic catheter.

Vascular disease and coronary heart problems are becoming increasingly wide-spread. Even in Asian countries, the effects of bad diet and lack of exercise are getting more noticeable every day. Here, too, early detection is still the best basis for an effective therapy. But to be able to diagnose heart problems with CTs early and reliably, the machines must have a very high resolution. The new detector technology of the SOMATOM Sensation 64 features a resolution of under 0.4 millimeters, which is the current world record. The basis of this technology is UFC, an ultra-fast ceramic detector developed by Siemens Med and Corporate Technology that converts X-rays into light quantums quickly and efficiently and delivers exceptionally sharp images while at the same time reducing patient radiation.

SOMATOM Sensation 64 was developed by Medical Solutions in Forchheim, Germany. The Ultra Fast Ceramic detector was developed by Med in cooperation with Corporate Technology in Munich.

Siemens is the only manufacturer to have successfully introduced such a CT on the market. The SOMATOM Sensation 64 had its world premiere in November 2003 at the convention of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in Chicago and was introduced on the market in September 2004. Currently (as of January 1, 2005), some 150 systems have been installed worldwide, about 40 of which are located in the U.S. Another version of the SOMATOM Sensation 64, the Cardiac version, is designed especially for heart scans. Thanks to the short scanning interval of 83 milliseconds, the system can even be used to examine patients with high heart rates. In the future, this CT scanner will be able to analyze the functionality of stents - small hollow wire mesh structures that are placed inside blood vessels to prevent constriction.

The SOMATOM Sensation 64 focuses especially on angiography (the imaging of blood vessels), particularly of the coronary heart vessels. The world market for high-end CT scanners is 1,000 to 1,200 systems annually. Siemens is the market leader in this segment (source: Siemens Medical Solutions) and is about one year ahead of the competition with respect to innovation.

Digital Healthcare

Digital Healthcare is the future of healthcare. Its applications are legion. Portable minilabs will detect infections and allergies within one hour. High-precision imaging processes will detect diseases like cancer long before they spread and become dangerous. All healthcare processes will be networked between hospitals, doctors and patients. Patient data such as test results or digitized X-ray images will be stored on servers in electronic files which can be accessed by authorized doctors, for example via minute RFID radio chips which the patient carries in a paper bracelet. With a tablet PC, the doctor gets all the information he or she needs from the server, for example when a patient is transferred from one ward to another. In addition, the system will propose therapies and give diagnostic tips, for example when different medications are incompatible with each other. This accelerates the workflow, makes processes more efficient and cuts costs significantly.

Siemens plays a leading role in medical technology, as is borne out by its long history of innovations. Thanks to its broad spectrum of products and services, Siemens is in the unique position of being able to supply not only high-performance medical equipment, but complete solutions like the Soarian workflow system and the syngo user platform. The digital hospital example demonstrates how Siemens drives progress in the healthcare field with state-of-the-art medical, communication and building technologies that are closely linked to customized services. For Siemens, healthcare solutions are much more than just profit-makers; they also characterize the company's social role and responsibilities, as well as the synergies which are possible between the various units.

Siemens has an innovation headstart of up to two years in major technology areas. High-performance technologies like those in the MAGNETOM Avanto MRI scanner or the super-fast SOMATOM Sensation 64 CT scanner, as well as combined diagnostics devices like SPECT*CT and PET-CT cement its global leadership in medical technology, as do the syngo multi-system user platform and the Soarian workflow system. Today, these highly developed technologies make Siemens the trendsetter on the world market. Innovative Siemens developments like the Quicklab diagnostics system or molecular imaging have the potential to further revolutionize healthcare in the future, as do innovative tumor therapies with particle accelerators, which Siemens is currently developing together with various research centers.

Siemens's highly developed medical technologies will provide disease detection and treatment capabilities that go far beyond what is possible today. Precise diagnostics and targeted procedures will replace long and complex treatment processes. That way, Siemens medical technology not only provides better and less invasive treatment, but also contributes to lower healthcare costs, which in turn provides relief for social welfare systems over the medium term.

With digital medical technology, many diseases can be detected and treated in their early stages. This reduces the risk of illness even with serious indications such as cancer for many people, provides for minimally invasive treatments, makes many long-term hospital stays unnecessary and thus significantly improves the individual's quality of life.

The MAGNETOM Avanto Magnetic Resonance System

The MAGNETOM Avanto achieves an image resolution up to three times higher than conventional systems, and it can scan an area 205 centimeters in length. This enables whole-body images to be taken without any need to reposition the patient or change coils. The maximum image length possible with previous systems was 150 centimeters, and image quality was much lower.

The MAGNETOM Avanto's excellent performance is made possible by the revolutionary Total Imaging Matrix technology, or Tim for short. At the heart of this new technology is a matrix-coil design that allows the combination of up to 76 coil elements with 32 RF channels, which leads to significant improvements in acquisition speed and image quality.

For example, it takes just 12 minutes for the MAGNETOM Avanto to conduct a whole-body scan - half as long as the fastest machines available until now. The system's sharper detailed definition opens up new possibilities in areas such as cancer diagnosis (better analyses of tumors and systemically distributed metastases) or the examination of the circulatory and nervous systems. Tim also sets new standards in patient comfort:

The body matrix coil placed on the patient's body weighs only 950 grams, which is particularly helpful for patients suffering from heart problems or cancer. Moreover, because the patient is scanned feet-first, the patient's head remains outside the measurement tunnel for many scan procedures.

The objective was to develop the world's best 1.5 Tesla MR scanner. To accomplish this, a completely new system architecture was designed. One of its integral components was a new high-frequency transmission and reception chain (Tim = Total Imaging Matrix). Tim technology expanded the scope of magnetic resonance imaging, which was relatively stable in terms of technology, to include something totally new. Whereas in the past, MRI market success was mainly determined by the strength of the magnetic field (followed by the performance of the gradient system), future clinical advancements - and thus product success - will primarily result from new high-frequency concepts.

For example, the MAGNETOM Avanto can improve work processes in clinics and doctors' offices, because it delivers a whole-body image in just 12 minutes - twice as fast as the speediest conventional devices. And thanks to the MAGNETOM Avanto, whole-body scans may soon become routine examinations for the early recognition of diseases such as cancer and arteriosclerosis.

Development of the MAGNETOM Avanto began in 2001, and the product was introduced to the internal Siemens organization in October 2003. As such, development time totaled 400 development man-years. In November 2003, the new MRI system was presented for the first time publicly at RSNA, the world's leading radiology conference. It was then launched on the market in April 2004. And by the end of 2004, more than 270 MAGNETOM Avanto systems had been delivered to customers.

Developments on the world market for MRI devices such as the MAGNETOM Avanto range from stagnation to slow growth. Tim technology has made Siemens the clear leader in innovation for high-end MRI systems - and last year the company also became the market leader. It was followed by its main competitor, General Electric, with Philips in third place. Medical Solutions estimates it has a technological lead of approximately two years.

The MAGNETOM Avanto was developed by Medical Solutions in Erlangen.

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