Siemens Features World’s First Photon-Counting CT Scanner

Siemens Healthineers is highlighting the newly launched NAEOTOM Alpha, the world’s first CT scanner with photon-counting technology, at RSNA 2021. The system was officially launched earlier this month.

“As the FDA said earlier this year, it’s the biggest breakthrough in CT technology in a decade,” said Matt Fuld, PhD, photon-counting CT product manager.

NAEOTOM Alpha uses the emerging CT technology of photon-counting detectors, which can measure each individual X-ray that passes through a patient's body, as opposed to current systems that use detectors that measure the total energy contained in many X-rays at once. By “counting” each individual X-ray photon, more detailed information about the patient can be obtained and used to create images with less information that is not useful in the review and analysis.

It starts with the Quantum Max detector, where a cadmium telluride crystal provides all the benefits that make photon-counting CT a breakthrough in medical imaging. Low and high energy photons contribute equally to the image signal, yielding optimal image contrast.

The detector pixels are smaller by a factor of nine, compared to current CT systems, which provide the highest spatial resolution at the dose of a standard resolution scan. Photon-counting detectors can completely eliminate electronic noise, which enables noise-free images at a fraction of the radiation dose required today. Plus, the detector offers spectral information for every exam, regardless of scan speeds or temporal resolution.

“Because it’s based on semiconductor technology, it delivers advantages such as no noise, smaller pixels, intrinsic spectral sensitivities and better contrast, especially with iodine. It opens the door to so many new possibilities,” explained Fuld.   

With a rotation speed of 250 milliseconds and two X-ray tubes and detectors (Dual Source), the NAEOTOM Alpha is not only the first photon-counting CT system on the market, but is also a very powerful, fast and precise CT scanner.

The NAEOTOM Alpha delivers speed thanks to its Dual Source design and benefits from spectral information and high resolution for removing obstructions caused by calcifications. This enables diagnostic assessment and allows more cardiac patients to benefit from CT imaging – even those with a high calcium burden.

The high precision offered by the NAEOTOM Alpha is also highly beneficial in oncology, where reliable and consistent evaluation of disease progress is the most important factor. Therefore, clinical images need to be as conclusive and consistent as possible to make the right decisions. In pulmonology, images need to contain all meaningful answers in as few scans as possible to avoid treatment delays and potentially severe consequences for patients. These needs are met and often exceeded by the NAEOTOM Alpha’s features. Its clinical images inherently carry more information than ever possible before for precise diagnosis, follow-up, and treatment.

“Clinicians no longer have to compromise,” said Fuld. “They used to have to choose between high resolution or low dose, fast acquisition or spectral resolution. With the NAEOTOM Alpha, it’s yes to everything – higher resolution, low dose, speed and spectral information. It’s pushing the boundaries of what CT can provide.”

The company is also featuring the MAGNETOM Free.Max MR scanner, which received FDA clearance in the summer of 2021, as well as the work-in-progress MAGNETOM Free.Star* MR scanner. The MAGNETOM Free.Star is a cost-effective whole-body MRI scanner, designed to enable significantly better access to magnetic resonance imaging worldwide. Together with MAGNETOM Free.Max, MAGNETOM Free.Star is part of a new generation of scanners which achieve excellent image quality with digital technologies. The two MRIs are based on the “High-V MRI” platform and are the smallest and most lightweight whole-body scanners that Siemens Healthineers has ever built.

RSNA Booth: South 1933

*Magnetom Free.Star is under development and is not commercially available. Future availability cannot be guaranteed.



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