Report: Echo labs broaden clinical applications, reach of echo studies
Approximately 10.35 million echocardiography procedures were performed in hospitals with 100 or more beds and 400 large group cardiology practices in 2002, according to a new study published by IMV Medical Information Division.

IMV's 2003 Echocardiography Census Database and Market Summary Report details that the same 3,130 sites also reported 10.25 million patient visits associated with these echo procedures. In addition, 2.02 million vascular ultrasound procedures were performed by more than one-third of the participating echo sites.

"While overall echo procedure utilization has been stable from 2001 to 2002, vascular ultrasound procedures performed in echo labs have increased 22 percent," said Lorna Young, senior director, market research. "Concurrently, the use of commercial contrast agents with echo procedures has become more widespread in terms of the proportion of echo sites using them, increasing from 26 percent of sites in 2001 to 40 percent as of this census."

Young added that in addition to broadening the clinical applications performed, echo labs are expanding the availability of echo studies by using networks to transmit images to multiple locations, including points within the lab, other departments and other facilities. "From 1999 to now, the proportion of echo sites that have networks grew from 6 percent to 17 percent," said Young. "This includes networks installed by vendors that provide echo equipment, PACS/image management systems, or dedicated networks."

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