Special report: The start of endoscopy's reign

by Diana Bradley, Staff Writer | March 16, 2012
From the March 2012 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Asia-Pacific represents the fastest growing regional market displaying a compound annual growth rate of 8.3 percent over a six-year historic analysis, according to research firm Global Industry Analysts, Inc.’s October report.

With economies in Brazil, Russia, India and China on the rise, Visiongain’s report predicts that increased wealth will lead to a hike in health care spending, medical insurance coverage and adoption of westernized lifestyles — particularly diet. Consequently, obesity and cardiovascular disease instances will ramp up, resulting in an increase of laparoscopic weight-loss procedures.
But the major force driving the endoscopy equipment market will continue to be colonoscopy screenings, according to Buxbaum. With more than 1 million new cases of colorectal cancer reported each year worldwide, cancer is one of the leading reasons for surgery.

“Speaking for flexible endoscopy, it seems as if colon cancer awareness has increased the number of colonoscopy screenings and therapeutic colonoscopy procedures,” says Buxbaum. “In addition, the development of newer, less invasive endoscopic procedures for other gastrointestinal medical conditions, have also added to the number of procedures being performed.”

50 percent of Americans who should be screened for colon cancer avoid a colonoscopy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most recent statistics. But the mortality rate can be reduced by up to 90 percent by colonoscopies and capsule endoscopies.

Capsule endscopes advance and gain popularity
Capsule endoscopy has been one of the fastest areas of revenue growth for gastrointestinal device manufacturers, annually growing 12.9 percent since 2007, notes a January report by research firm Kalorama Information.

Approved in the U.S. in 2000, capsule endoscopy is a way to see what is going on in the middle of the small intestine, which scopes for colonoscopy and upper endoscopy cannot reach. A single capsule endoscopy costs around $1,000 and produces about 50,000 images for doctors to read within 30 to 90 minutes, which elevates the risk of missing something.

Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Tel Aviv University’s researchers are currently creating an MRI-guided capsule that provides images of the digestive tract. This technology may help ease fears associated with colonoscopy screenings. Researchers say the new device would improve upon current technology, combining the endoscope’s control and real-time imaging with the safety and ease of a pill. Steered with wireless and MRI technologies, the new capsule can swim with the magnetic current, with tails made out of copper coils and flexible polymer. It is still early days for the device, which still needs to undergo animal testing and trials before entering mainstream treatment.

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