Major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) no longer offer stand-alone PET scanners. As PET-CT hybrids become the current standard imaging tool for oncology exams, the nuclear medicine community have began adopting single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT-CT) devices. This, in turn, drives the benefits of hybrid imaging experienced through PET-CT. Though PET-CT hybrids have experienced slower adoption, the use of SPECT-CT systems is on the rise, beginning to affect the sales of stand-alone SPECT systems.
In addition, recent developments in solid-state detectors have enabled PET integration with MRI scanners. As a result, prototype positron emission tomography–magnetic resonance imaging (PET-MRI) devices have become available for immediate utilization for preclinical imaging.
Moreover, another hybrid that combines SPECT with MRI is expected to be available soon. These hybrid systems expedite the delivery of complementary anatomical, functional and molecular information to enable high levels of accuracy in diagnosis that individual modalities cannot offer.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (technicalinsights.frost.com), Emerging Technology Developments in Hybrid Imaging finds that development of time-of-flight (TOF) and high-density PET systems as well as recent developments in enabling technologies such as the scintillators, photo-detectors, high-speed electronics, multislice CT and novel radiopharmaceutical agents are the major technology drivers for the hybrid scanner market.
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"Increase in disease incidence, demand for complementary information by clinicians for effective disease management, development of new PET and SPECT radiotracers and advances in sold state detectors used in these systems are factors providing traction for the market," said Technical Insights industry analyst Sangeetha Prabakar. "A new era is opening up for disease imaging, where hybrid imaging will be the primary diagnostic tool, merging with molecular imaging."
Issues surrounding cost have restrained market progression. The cost of a PET/CT fusion scanner ranges anywhere between $1.9 million and $2.4 million, depending on the system configuration; however, this does not include the additional costs for extended interpretation times required by the radiologists. This is much larger than the cost of a stand-alone PET or CT scanner and therefore, limits its availability in small medical imaging clinics and rural setups. This is because only multispecialty hospitals and larger clinical setups can afford to install high-end hybrid systems.
One way to offset these expenditures is to increase patient throughput by optimizing the modality usage and applying it to several clinical indications. This is further going to drive the trend toward multipurpose hybrid scanners having high-end systems of both modalities. The cost of PET-MRI the machine is expected to be anywhere between $2.5 million and $3 million. This calls for a cost-benefit evaluation of the technology to see if there are actual cost offsets gained because of faster imaging.
To remain competitive in this arena, manufacturers must resort to technological innovation to help simplify the task for radiologists. The TOF introduction by a major OEM is a noteworthy innovation that maintains product lifecycle and justifies costs. Adopting innovative strategies will ensure breakeven points for vendors due to alarming increase in disease (Cancer, heart disease, etc) incidence through rise in procedure volumes.
"Setting up a local OEM base and partnering with hospital chains will help enhance market prospects," said Prabakar. "Major OEMs such as GE, Philips and Siemens must establish imaging research centers or manufacturing divisions in Asia to ramp up technology/product awareness and ensure availability at lower system costs."
In this direction, GE Healthcare has invested $15 million to manufacture PET/CT systems in India. Additionally, OEMs must proactively partner with large hospital groups in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, India and Australia to maximize product visibility and outreach in these regions.
Emerging Technology Developments in Hybrid Imaging, a part of the Technical Insights subscription, provides an in-depth analysis of the market drivers and restraints, competitive environment in addition to the challenges and issues faced by market participants. Further, this research service includes detailed technology analysis and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
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Emerging Technology Developments in Hybrid Imaging / D22C