Report: OB/GYNs drive European ultrasound; market to hit $1 billion by 2013

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Driven by OB/GYN and interventional ultrasound, as well as use at private clinics, is pushing growth in the European ultrasound market which is expected to hit $1063.3 million by 2013, compared to $719.0 million in 2006, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan. Other growth factors include advances in transducer technology and computer-aided diagnosis software, as well as leading edge applications such as elastography.

“Advances in 3D and 4D imaging capabilities, the use of ultrasound contrast media and the increasing deployment of ultrasound for breast imaging will enhance the growth of the European ultrasound market,” said Karthik Arun B Frost & Sullivan Medical Imaging. “The OB/GYN ultrasound segment and the ‘other’ ultrasound segment (comprising hand carried ultrasound and interventional ultrasound) will be the fastest growing in the total European ultrasound market.”

Facilities are also able to see more patients each day due to technical advances such as 3D and 4D imaging which have reduced scan times, and ultrasound contrast media and their increasing use have greatly increased the potential for their use in diagnostic imaging as well as in interventional procedures, the organization said.

“Breast ultrasound is also gaining popularity as a tool in early screening to detect breast abnormalities without compromising patient safety in terms of radiation dosage,” adds Karthik. “Greater use of ultrasound for breast imaging, coupled with consumer driven demand for fetal 3D imaging, will ensure healthy growth rates for the ultrasound market in the OB/GYN segment.”

All of this growth in contrast with the traditional radiology ultrasound market which will see only marginal increase due to market saturation. Also, vendors are feeling increasing pressure to provide more and more powerful systems but at a cheaper price which makes it difficult to turn a strong profit, the organization said.

Additionally, competition from modalities such as MRI and finding ways to manage the volume of data are also challenges to the market. “Saturation of the core radiology market means that the largest segment in the market will grow much slower than other segments, thus retarding overall expansion,” said. Karthik. “In many countries, users are initially hesitant to adopt new technology and when they do, attempt to get the latest technology at a low cost. This, together with the lack of reimbursement for some ultrasound procedures will limit market development.”