Diagnostic imaging  

SonoSite launches new hand-held ultrasound system

SonoSite, Inc. (Nasdaq:SONO, the world leader in hand-carried ultrasound, has announced the launch of its MicroMaxx(TM) ultrasound system, the company's third generation hand-carried product. The MicroMaxx system, at less than eight pounds and the size of a laptop computer, delivers image resolution and performance comparable to costly, conventional cart-based ultrasound systems weighing over 200 pounds. This unprecedented power in a hand-carried configuration provides caregivers with unmatched flexibility and efficiency in utilizing ultrasound in both hospital and office-based settings.

"The MicroMaxx represents the technology crossover point between hand-carried and cart-based systems," said Kevin M. Goodwin, President and CEO of SonoSite. "With this new combination of performance and portability, the MicroMaxx system addresses traditional ultrasound markets such as radiology and cardiology, while further expanding ultrasound's utility in areas such as emergency medicine, anesthesiology and surgery. Use of the MicroMaxx system promises to benefit patients by delivering high performance ultrasound at less cost meaning more accurate diagnoses and the initiation of treatment more quickly."

As the market leader in hand-carried ultrasound, SonoSite has developed user-friendly, technologically advanced products designed from the ground-up, not adapted from existing technologies. The Company's proprietary Chip Fusion(TM) technology integrates digital signal processing and multiple ultrasound functions into a custom ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) microchip, resulting in high performance in a less costly, powerful hand-carried unit.

The MicroMaxx system and its transducers are designed to withstand real-world use, including being dropped onto a hard surface and continuing to function. SonoSite's proven history of durability and reliability, and the high level of integration of its third generation ASICs has resulted in another industry first — a standard five-year warranty.

"The MicroMaxx hand-carried ultrasound system is a major step forward in patient care," said Catherine M. Otto, MD, Professor of Medicine and Director, Cardiology Fellowship Programs, University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. "The image resolution and color Doppler are superb and something I did not expect to find in a hand-carried unit. The MicroMaxx is easy to use with simple, clear controls. Getting comfortable with this sophisticated instrument took me less than 10 minutes. Hand-carried echocardiography has become central in my clinical practice for making and confirming diagnostic decisions."

In addition to traditional market segments for ultrasound such as radiology, cardiology and vascular imaging, high performance hand-carried products like MicroMaxx and SonoSite's earlier generation product, the TITAN(TM) system, are increasing the use of ultrasound in newer applications, including emergency medicine, anesthesiology, general and specialized surgery.

A major technology advance

Through its proprietary Chip Fusion(TM) technology, SonoSite has achieved the integration of multiple, complex ultrasound functions onto a single ASIC, thereby dramatically reducing space, weight and power requirements while offering high resolution imaging. In the MicroMaxx system, a 128-channel beamformer, the complex front end of an ultrasound system, is integrated into four proprietary postage stamp-sized ASIC chips, something typically requiring several circuit boards in the larger systems. Additionally, the MicroMaxx system is ready for scanning in seconds and can operate on battery power for up to four hours.

"This is a major development for the field of medical imaging," said Jacques Souquet, Ph.D., a member of SonoSite's Board of Directors and an early visionary in hand-carried ultrasound. "I have always believed that once the quality of hand-carried ultrasound imaging was equivalent to the images in cart-based systems, it could radically change how hospitals and physicians manage, utilize and expand ultrasound imaging. I believe that MicroMaxx opens a new era in ultrasound."

The new broadband digital beamformer supports extended bandwidth transducers for scanning in a wide range of clinical applications. New transducers being introduced with the MicroMaxx system include:

  • the HFL 38 /13-6 transducer for breast, small parts, vascular, IMT and nerve imaging;
  • the P17/5-1 transducer for abdominal, cardiac and obstetrical scanning;
  • the C60e/5-2 transducer for abdominal, obstetrical and gynecological scanning; and
  • the TEE/8-3 transducer for transesophageal echocardiography scanning.

The MicroMaxx system also offers the option of embedded SonoCalc(TM) IMT software for the early detection and management of cardiovascular disease. IMT, or Intima Media Thickness, refers to the measurement of the interior lining of the common carotid artery. This effective measurement can detect sub-clinical atherosclerosis (very early stages of disease), long before any significant atherosclerotic plaque accumulates.

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