Novel Imaging Technology Enables Next-Generation Ultrasound

A French company specializing in medical ultrasound imaging has developed a precise, non-invasive, multi-organ platform. It is currently launching a dedicated musculoskeletal application. 

Novel Imaging Technology Enables Next-Generation UltrasoundBernard Banga and Thomas Petit-Bourg, MD Report, France

France, Nov. 13, 2014 – (Posted by Anonymous) SuperSonic Imagine, a company based in Aix-en-Provence (France), was set up by two former senior executives from Philips Medical. Jacques Souquet, its CEO and co-founder, was also behind Sonosite, a medical ultrasound medtech company sold to the Japanese giant Fuji for almost a billion dollars. “Our disruptive innovation enables image acquisition at very high rates – up to 20,000 images per second – i.e. 200 times faster than the fastest conventional ultrasound system,” explains Souquet. By offering this new imaging mode, which enables practitioners to quantify, view and analyse tissue stiffness in real-time using non-invasive techniques, the Aixplorer ultrasound system makes diagnoses more reliable and reduces the number of unnecessary biopsies.

According the company, the Aixplorer system is based on more flexible software architecture, which overcomes the limitations of electronic boards in existing ultrasound systems. “Our technology is protected by 28 patent families in 54 countries,” says Souquet. The most strategic patents cover a method for imaging an environment’s entire viscoelastic properties (elasticity and viscosity); a plane-wave method for generating ultra-fast synthetic images, which applies to all ultrasound imaging methods (B-mode, Doppler, shear-wave elastography, contrast-enhanced); and a shear-wave elastography method. This new-generation ultrasound system is unique in combining ultrasonic waves, which provide exceptional-quality images, and shear waves, for real-time display of tissue elasticity measured in kilopascals. Furthermore, the company’s Doppler UltraFast combines an ultra-fast frame rate (300 Hz) colour-flow Doppler and a pulsed-wave Doppler, whose imaging has recognized use in blood-flow analysis, especially to assess cardiovascular disease and organ vascularization. Six ultra-wideband transducer families also use technology that provides an detailed view of tissues for various medical applications. “Our medical device enables unnecessary breast biopsies to be reduced by more than 35%, liver fibrosis to be assessed without a biopsy, improved targeting of prostate biopsies as part of cancer screening, and precise imaging and quantification of vascular function,” said SuperSonic Imagine’s CEO.

The device, which has CE marking and FDA 510 (k) registration, won this year’s Breakthrough Technology Designation award in San Antonio, Texas. SuperSonic Imagine devotes considerable resources to the ongoing development of its software platform. Over 4 million euros a year are invested in the R&D department, which employs 28% of the company’s 126 staff. The company has just launched its dedicated musculoskeletal application, at the Journées Françaises de Radiologie (JFR) conference. “Our new very high-frequency transducer, known as the ‘hockey stick’, provides very high-resolution images of muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints,” explains Souquet.

In five years, this French firm has sold 800 machines in 54 countries on 5 continents, doubling its installed base in the past two years. As a result of raising 50 million euros this year by its initial public offering on the Euronext NYSE stock exchange, SuperSonic Imagine is currently accelerating its commercial expansion, especially towards China and India. “We intend to develop a new-generation platform and broaden its range to portable ultrasound systems,” says Souquet. Within ten years, his company expects to capture 7% of the high-growth world market for ultrasound systems, which is estimated to be worth over 5 billion dollars.


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