This report analyzes the current and potential world market for medical MRI and ultrasound systems. This report generally reviews the nature and direction of research, as well as future markets for two key areas of imaging technology: Ultrasound and MRI.
the report includes the following as part of its market coverage:
The information presented in Medical Imaging Markets: MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and Ultrasound is the result of data gathered from company product literature and other corporate brochures and documents, as well as information found in the scientific and trade press. In addition, interviews were conducted with company executives, clinicians and researchers.
This report profiles the following companies: In the MRI market: Analogic, GE Healthcare, Hitachi Medical Systems, Philips, Fonar, Siemens and Toshiba, among others.
In the ultrasound market: companies profiled include Aloka, Analogic, Esaote, GE Healthcare, Hitachi Medical Systems, Philips, Shimadzu, Siemens, SonoSite, and Toshiba, among others.
The market for MRI continues to grow despite the recession. With its ability to image both anatomically and functionally, MRI has found its way into surgical planning and navigation as well as diffusion and perfusion imaging. It is being combined with other modalities to achieve new heights of image clarity. For instance, once considered unreliable in imaging cartilage, it is being considered for assessing chondral damage and repair. Three dimensional (3D) MRI is sensitive enough to replace arthroscopy.
MRI has been propelled by improved image quality facilitated by higher field strength magnets and the development of new techniques for evaluating specific portions of the complex structures in the brain. More than two decades ago, when clinical MRI was in its early stages, it had serious limitations. The standard pulse sequence at that time was conventional spin echo (CSE). While a very robust method of imaging, and to this date still the gold standard for image contrast in MRI, it suffered from excessively long scan times. Many thought that MRI would never be suitable for cardiac, vascular, very high spatial resolution or true dynamic imaging. But as MRI gained clinical acceptance, the demand for the ability to image those areas that were previously deemed impossible has increased, with a strong emphasis on reducing the acquisition times. The quest for faster imaging has been the impetus for the development of new sequences, improved coil design and significant hardware advances.
This demand has led to new applications and markets for the modality. Most of these significant hurdles have been overcome. With the advent of Gradient Echo, Fast Spin Echo and Echo Planar sequences, scan times have been reduced dramatically, making cardiac imaging possible. Over the last few of years, cardiac MRI has received new emphasis - diversifying from structural and simple qualitative functional imaging.
Now myocardial contractility and cardiac volumes may be measured with great accuracy. To further add to the cardiac imaging repertoire, intravenous gadolinium contrast agents, in conjunction with sequences designed to assess myocardial perfusion and degree of viability, are becoming commonplace. This application has significantly impacted patient management in cases of myocardial infarction in which revascularization is being considered. Where previously a full cardiac workup would have required visits to both echo cardiology and nuclear medicine, all the information can be obtained in a single visit to the MRI department. The detail and accuracy of the cardiac MRI exam is such that it is now considered the gold standard for cardiac imaging.
Ultrasound continues to be a low-cost and effective imaging technology that can help radiologists and others gather significant clinical data about patients. Ultrasound is well suited to many patients. No other imaging option gives patients a real-time look at their anatomy or openly encourages discussions with physicians about their symptoms and the evidence of disease on the monitor. Ultrasound is safe, patient-friendly and inexpensive. The adoption of this modality by hospitals and other healthcare institutions has generated new market opportunities for manufacturers of ultrasound systems and components suppliers. Ultrasound imaging systems have become commonplace in many offices of cardiologists, obstetricians, surgeons, and urologists, among other specialists.
New applications, such as the use of ultrasound in administering emergency medicine, along with new hand-held portable systems are helping to further fuel the medical marketplace for the technology. In addition, ultrasound systems attract users simply because of their emphasis on user-friendliness, compactness and mobility.
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