Business, diagnostic imaging  

Acquisition of Sensant gives Siemens access to advanced ultrasound technology

14 August 2005

The acquisition of Sensant Corp by Siemens Siemens Medical Solutions Ultrasound Division in June will enable it to develop higher quality ultrasound imaging systems based on Sensant's propriety Silicon Ultrasound technology.

The acquisition will allow Siemens to develop advanced Capacitive Microfabricated Ultrasound Transducer (CMUT) technology, and commercialize next-generation transducers based on this innovative technology. The new CMUT technology is expected to offer superior and efficient volumetric four dimensional (4D) imaging for a wide range of applications; improved manufacturing processes; a broader frequency range and higher image resolution, allowing clinicians to examine the next level of microscopic detail within conventional and 4D ultrasound images.

“Not only should this technology enable higher frequency imaging, which will allow clinicians to view the smallest details within the body, but the integrated circuit technology should also deliver superior quality control and manufacturing processes,” said Klaus Hambuechen, president and CEO of Siemens Medical Solutions Ultrasound Division. “Additionally, it will be easier to tightly integrate the electronics of the transducer and the ultrasound system. This improved integration is where the greatest possibilities for ultrasound imaging and manufacturing advancements can be realized, especially in the area of volumetric (4D) imaging.”

The CMUT transducers are made from silicon wafers using integrated circuit fabrication processes, and miniature “drum heads” (so small that seven are equivalent to the cross sectional size of a single strand of human hair) are formed from micro-fabricated silicon. A single drum operates as both an ultrasonic speaker and microphone.

“We believe the combination of technologies from Sensant Corp. and Siemens Ultrasound will position the company to streamline advanced transducer development through the power of silicon ultrasound technology and allow the realization of cost-effective two dimensional (2D) matrix array transducers capable of volumetric 4D imaging,” said Igal Ladabaum, CEO of Sensant Corporation. “As a result, complete detailed volume images will enable a better understanding of disease in 3D and will simplify image acquisition and interpretation. By enabling clinicians to reach a confident diagnosis faster and more easily, volumetric 4D imaging will improve patient care and reduce overall costs to patients and the healthcare system.”

Using CMUT technology to transmit sound waves into the body, the imaging system sends an electrical signal to the drum that creates an electrostatic force on the membrane causing it to vibrate and emit ultrasound. The echoes returning from the body’s tissue cause the drum’s membrane to vibrate, which produces the electrical signals that the system uses to create a visual image. To make large-area transducers, hundreds or thousands of these drum heads are placed side-by-side. The tiny drum heads also are ideal for catheter transducers, such as Siemens ACUSON AcuNav™ diagnostic ultrasound catheter. The CMUT technology should enable these ultrasound catheters to become even smaller, and as a result, broaden clinical applications.

“The size of catheter transducers is critical in diagnostic imaging and the CMUT technology should further enable the development of miniaturized catheter transducers, enabling clinicians to better visualize functionality within the heart, for example, where plaque or obstructions could be more easily detected,” noted Hambuechen.

While advancements in medical technology are sometimes associated with increased costs, CMUT technology is expected to allow transducers to be manufactured at a lower cost, while also improving overall quality.

“Integrated circuit technology allows the manufacturing process to be more exact and precise, and also more flexible because various types of transducer arrays could be manufactured simultaneously with relative ease,” said Hambuechen. “As a result, we anticipate quality to be increased and costs to be reduced, which would improve access for clinicians and patients to advanced diagnostic technologies like the AcuNav catheter.”

Siemens plans to integrate this transducer technology into its complete suite of ultrasound imaging systems. Hambuechen says that he expects the technology to be commercially available within two to three years.

For more information on the technology see

To top


To top