3D medical imaging solutions becoming more affordable in Europe

11 March 2008

3D imaging has become one of the highest growth segments in the field of medical imaging and the European 3D imaging market is expanding as applications become increasingly affordable, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan.

3D medical imaging solutions are additional imaging tools that help display images more accurately, displaying internal body structures with a three-dimensional view. This ability, in turn, offers added information to physicians and supports the precise detection and diagnosis of diseases. 3D medical imaging provides advanced visualisation options and tools to radiologists and surgeons.

3D is gaining in popularity as a rapid diagnostic tool that tackles the huge volume of medical data being produced daily in European hospitals, aiding in workflow efficiency. The market earned revenues of US$210.0 million in 2007 and is estimated to reach US$521.5 million by 2014.

“In the past few years, the 3D imaging market has become one of the highest growth segments in the medical imaging field, and this trend is set to persist as these applications become more affordable and research proves their clinical value,” says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Darshana De. “Most of these applications will provide non-invasive alternatives that have the potential to improve standards of care for patients.”

While market prospects appear promising, the major opportunities are likely to be restricted to large hospitals. The high price involved in large, enterprise-wide deployment, coupled with the lack of reimbursement for 3D imaging, which is not recognised as a separate procedure and is bundled with other diagnostic procedures, will challenge market participants.

“In Europe, very limited reimbursement is offered for performing imaging procedures using 3D visualisation,” says De. “Where reimbursement is offered, the 3D processing is typically not recognised as a distinct procedure, but is usually bundled with reimbursement for a particular modality procedure.”

Despite the ease of viewing 3D rendered images, it requires highly skilled radiologists to pre-process the images. Moreover, the imaging tool can be effectively utilised only in hospitals that generate large volumes of data everyday.

To leverage growth opportunities, sales and marketing need to continuously minimise costs through efficient functioning, while R&D has to focus on reducing product development and manufacturing costs. Market participants need to produce user-friendly solutions with high levels of customer support, including training, maintenance and installation services. Partnering with PACS vendors also affords 3D visualisation companies expanded access to end users through the superior sales and distribution channels of PACS vendors.

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