From the March 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
By Tom Watson
The most active vendors in the U.S. cath/angio market over the past three years (GE Healthcare, Philips Medical, Siemens Healthineers, Shimadzu Medical and Toshiba Medical) offer three distinct groups of solutions:
• Single plane imaging configurations.
• Biplane imaging configurations.
• Single plane specialty imaging configurations.
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There are sub-segments for each of these that I will touch on briefly, but for the purposes of this general overview, it is best to consolidate the information into these three large groups of solutions. The core imaging technology, which includes the gantry, imaging chain and imaging table, are effectively the same for different applications within each group. The clinical feature differentiation comes in specialized software and options to tailor the final solution to meet a wide range of clinical needs.
Single plane imaging Configurations
These are the most commonly considered solutions. They can be configured to address dedicated cardiac, dedicated vascular, combination cardiovascular and electrophysiological applications. Most vendors offer floor-mounted or ceiling-mounted solutions (GE Healthcare offers only floor mount). Combination cardiovascular solutions have been the primary focus, but we have begun to see some resurgence for vascular only. This is a result of increasing interest in angiography for image-guided assistance for oncology treatment solutions. Electrophysiology continues to be an active and growing area.
Biplane imaging configurations
Biplane has continued to be a clinically justifiable option for two areas, neurological imaging and intervention and pediatric imaging and intervention. The ability to provide simultaneous imaging from two orthogonal planes provides advantages in real-time 3-D spatial orientation as well as reduced use of contrast. Both of these are critical factors imaging the vasculature of the brain and the sometimes complex anatomy and contrast limitations of pediatrics and neonates.
While more limited, it is also an important consideration in services with populations with a high percentage of renal compromised or renal failure patients. Biplane has also gained attention from advanced interventional electrophysiology programs that are seeing more ablation procedures to treat life-threatening heart rhythms not responsive to medical therapy. However, this continues to be an area that generates discussions as to the clinical need versus clinical preference. There are many successful interventional EP programs using single plane technology.