New brands, proven experts lead a new era in the CT tube market

por Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | August 13, 2018
CT Parts And Service X-Ray
From the August 2018 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

The experience that Fitzgerald and his team gained at Dunlee came in handy with this project because reverse engineering of tubes was a core competence for the company.
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Richardson validated the tube by performing in-house testing on OEM CT scanners in their factory in LaFox, Illinois and at their service training and development center in Fort Mill, South Carolina. They ran those assemblies 24/7 from November 2017 to early March, and then began to install the tubes in clinical sites in the U.S.

They met all of their internal and external testing criteria and filed their initial report with the FDA. They conducted a final design review of the product and released the ALTA750 for sale in late May.

The company also contracted an internationally known physicist, Dr. Robert Dixon, to conduct an independent evaluation of the tube’s compatibility with the OEM CT scanner. He concluded that the tube exhibited “comparable performance to the Toshiba Aquilion CT scanner in both dose and image quality arenas.”

Making big moves
Richardson is not the only tube developer with its eyes on Canon’s fleet of CT systems. Varex Imaging Corporation has had a multi-decade long relationship with Toshiba Medical Systems (now Canon) to supply CT tubes and other X-ray imaging products. Toshiba Medical/Canon renewed its three-year pricing agreement for CT tubes with the Varex in March 2017 that’s worth up to $385 million.

After its spin-off from Varian Medical Systems in January 2017, Varex began making big moves to bolster its position in the imaging space, including the $276 million acquisition of PerkinElmer’s digital detectors imaging business.

Varex also has a one-year pricing agreement with Canon to supply other imaging components, such as digital detectors and high-voltage connectors. Annual sales for those components have ranged from $20 million to $30 million.
Varex builds CT tubes for the OEM space as well as replacement tubes for competitive products. Canon is the company’s biggest customer, but Varex also supplies components to almost every other OEM.

“The biggest thing we have going for us is the fact that we have proven expertise as the largest independent X-ray tube manufacturer,” said Mark Jonaitis, senior vice president and general manager of X-ray sources at Varex. “Companies that don’t primarily manufacture their own X-ray tubes often come to us for their specialty products or for their mainstream products.”

Varex is known for developing and manufacturing CT tubes for OEM customers’ next-generation CT scanners, as well as providing replacement CT tubes. The company also supplies tubes for CT scanners that are relatively low-volume and specialized. Many OEMs would rather have Varex build the tubes for them than make their own R&D commitment to it.

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