Fujifilm Corp announced the "Fujifilm FC1" portable ultrasonic diagnostic equipment, the first product that it has developed in cooperation with SonoSite Inc (present Fujifilm SonoSite Inc).
Fujifilm acquired SonoSite in April 2012. By developing a microprocessor (MPU) with high image processing capability, the company realized high-resolution images that enable to describe various situations.
The FC1 can be carried around with one hand and is suited for POC (point of care testing). Fujifilm will release it May 12, 2014.
The FC1 was developed by combining Fujifilm's image processing technology and Fujifilm SonoSite's technology to reduce casing size and technology to improve probe durability. Especially, making the most of Fujifilm's image processing technology, the FC1 has an image quality equivalent to that of stationary ultrasonic diagnostic equipment, Fujifilm SonoSite said.
This time, Fujifilm employed two major technologies. First, it used a newly-developed many-core processor to drastically improve computing power. As a result, a large amount of data collected by the probe can be processed at high speeds.
In addition, it became possible to prevent obtained images from blurring due to the variation in sound speed caused by the difference in the hardness of the subject's tissue. With the high computing power, images measured with different sound speeds are processed with software, and a sound speed that enables to generate the highest-resolution image is used to obtain images. In Fujifilm's previous method, images are obtained by assuming a constant sound speed regardless of the hardness of tissue.
Fujifilm developed the many-core processor in collaboration with a Japan-based semiconductor manufacturer. This is the first time in the industry that such a high-performance processor has been employed for ultrasonic diagnostic equipment including stationary ones, Fujifilm SonoSite said.
Using knowhow related to X-ray diagnostic apparatuses
Second, by applying "multi-frequency processing," which uses ultrasonic waves with multiple frequencies to cancel out noise, Fujifilm reduced speckle noise. Speckle noise is a phenomenon in which scattered lights caused by scatterers smaller than the wavelengths of ultrasonic waves interfere with one another, generating spotty images.
In general, when speckle noise is reduced, images of tissue boundaries tend to blur. But this was prevented by a process of emphasizing edges. To realize this, Fujifilm used its image processing knowhow built up through the development of X-ray diagnostic apparatuses, Fujifilm SonoSite said.
With those improvements, it became possible to take clear images of, for example, minute liver cancer and plaque attached to the inner wall of the carotid artery. Plaque is one of the causes of brain infarction.
Fujifilm will sell the FC1 via its subsidiary (Fujifilm Medical Co Ltd) for a price of ¥11,713,000 (approx US$112,820, excluding tax), aiming to sell 500 units per year in Japan. Fujifilm will exhibit the new product at ITEM 2014, which will take place from April 11 to 13, 2014, in Yokohama, Japan.