With the aim of improving the usability of high-end ultrasound, Siemens Healthcare has debuted the Helx Evolution with Touch Control upgrade for its Acuson S family of ultrasound systems at the Dreiländertreffen Ultraschall (DLT) conference in Davos, Switzerland.
In development since 2012, the hardware and software upgrade for the Acuson S1000, S2000, and S3000 scanners adds features such as a simplified user interface, a touchscreen display, improved probes, image quality enhancements, and more configuration options, according to the vendor. During the development process for the upgrade, the company visited 395 users around the world to learn from customers how it could best refine its ultrasound technology, said Douglas Younger, a product manager in Siemens' ultrasound business unit.
Among the usability improvements is a simplified control panel that reduces the total number of tactile keys by about 33%. This change was achieved in part by combining different applications for a given function into a single button, according to the firm. As a result, users can directly select shear-wave elastography, 4D, and contrast-enhanced ultrasound studies.
The new 12-inch touchscreen is highly sensitive and can be used even while wearing latex gloves or with contact gel residue on the finger, Siemens said. The company has also added new configuration options to enable more flexible placement of body markers, for example, as well as a laser optical track ball to reduce repetitive stress injuries, dynamic backlighting, and an integrated, customizable gel warmer. An eSie Image feature offers real-time automatic image optimization, allowing users to focus on scanning, Siemens said.
In addition to workflow and usability enhancements, Helx Evolution with Touch Control also comes with a range of image quality improvements. The vendor's high-density ultrasound probes have been enhanced, featuring approximately double the crystals included in the standard probes available for the S family, Siemens said. This provides more-detailed images and, consequently, improvements in diagnostic accuracy, according to the vendor.
The company said it has also improved B-mode imaging capabilities, and enhanced ultrasound probe coordination allows the abdominal probe to provide deeper penetration. Rib shadowing has also been reduced, Siemens said.
An improvement to the vendor's high-frequency linear transducer has yielded better visualization for superficial scanning in breast imaging, for example, according to the company. Siemens said it has also improved cardiovascular imaging capabilities.
In addition, the new upgrade makes it easier to perform elastography applications available on the Acuson S line, Siemens said. B-mode images and elastography now appear side by side thanks to the upgrade, making it easier to identify pathological change on B-mode images, according to the firm.
Helx Evolution with Touch Control has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 510(k) clearance and the European CE Mark. Worldwide launch of the new systems is slated for later in the fall.
Siemens has not yet released pricing information.