Fischer Imaging receives $1,2 million grant from National Cancer Institute

Denver 01 December 2003Fischer Imaging has received a fast track Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The $1,2 million grant will fund an effort with IBM to characterize and evaluate the technical performance and clinical efficacy of the advanced IBM T221 flat-panel display as part of Fischer's SenoScan digital mammography review workstation. FDA clearance will be required before the IBM 9-megapixel monitor could be made available to SenoScan customers.


Roman Janer, Senior Vice President of Engineering for Fischer Imaging, stated: "We are very enthusiastic about the prospects for incorporating IBM's T221 high-resolution flat-panel display into our SenoScan review workstation. The T221's 9-megapixel display, with a resolution of 3840 x 2400 pixels, is the highest resolution display ever produced and provides a high luminance and sharpness that we believe will help radiologists diagnose very small breast cancers."

"The SenoScan system is also the highest resolution digital mammography system that has received FDA pre-market approval with an image resolution of 5600 x 4100 pixels. IBM's 9-megapixel flat-panel display also provides a 25 percent larger viewing area than the high-resolution CRT monitors currently offered in digital mammography systems. We believe this will help radiologists review digital mammograms faster and with improved accuracy", explained Roman Janer.

Bob Hoffman, Vice President of Sales for Fischer Imaging, added: "We believe the T221 flat-panel display from IBM not only provides radiologists with a display medium to efficiently and thoroughly review digital mammograms, but it also addresses several other drawbacks with the current five megapixel cathode ray tube displays. The IBM display is only a few inches deep as compared to almost 24 inches for CRT displays, thus providing significantly more room in breast imaging suites."

"In addition, the useful life expectancy of flat-panel displays is dramatically longer than current technology, thus reducing cost of ownership and maintenance for our customers. It also generates significantly less heat, which can lower air conditioning requirements and improve the efficiency of the interpreting radiologists. We believe the availability of this flat-panel display has the potential to address the last major technological barrier that made reading digital mammograms slower and more difficult than conventional film mammograms", added Bob Hoffman.

Kai R. Schleupen, Ph.D., Manager of High-Resolution Visual Systems from IBM's Thomas Watson Research Center, stated: "In discussions with IBM more than five years ago, Fischer Imaging expressed a need for high-resolution flat-panel display technology that would offer a significant improvement in brightness for state-of-the-art digital mammography systems then in development. We are pleased to see that our advanced technology in display systems appears to meet Fischer Imaging's needs and that it might make a dramatic impact in the fight against breast cancer."

Patrick Boyle, IBM Life Sciences Medical Imaging Segment Executive, added: "IBM is delighted to see its advanced display technology working to improve the quality of mammography and assisting dedicated radiologists in finding breast cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage. This grant adds to research IBM has underway to develop a massive computing Grid for managing the access of digital mammograms to radiologists. Both these projects will help improve the ability of radiologists to quickly access and reliably review digital mammograms, regardless of where the imaging exam may have been acquired."

Additional collaborators on the NCI grant include Ehsan Samei Ph.D., from Duke University and Chairman of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine's Task Force on standards for medical displays. Dr. Samei commented: "Up to now, the display has been the main bottleneck in rendering high-quality digital mammograms for diagnostic interpretation. Advances in flat-panel display technology have now made it possible to display digital mammograms with a fidelity that had not been possible only a few years ago. Under the sponsorship of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), I believe that the relationship between Fischer Imaging as a notable digital mammography manufacturer and IBM as a leading IT provider can lead to significant progress in the effective implementation of digital mammography."

Etta Pisano, M.D., chief of mammography at the University of North Carolina (UNC) and the principal investigator of the $27 million NIH-sponsored digital mammography screening trial, stated: "This is potentially a very exciting new technology. We at UNC look forward to working with Fischer to determine what role it will play in patient care in breast cancer imaging."

Fischer Imaging showcased its SenoScan review workstation incorporating the IBM 9-megapixel display at the recent Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) Annual Meeting. Following a clinical evaluation and study of the new workstation at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in early 2004, the workstation is expected to be submitted to the FDA for marketing clearance in the second half of 2004.

Fischer Imaging Corporation designs, manufactures and markets medical imaging systems for the screening and diagnosis of disease. The company focuses on women's health, particularly the diagnosis and screening of breast cancer through the application of innovative digital imaging technologies. Fischer Imaging began producing general-purpose x-ray imaging systems in 1910 and is the oldest manufacturer of x-ray imaging devices in the United States.

Leslie Versweyveld

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