Interventional radiology procedures are on the rise, but are hospitals spending on equipping and building new suites?

Marianne Matthews

High-rises, condos, rooftop restaurants. Seems every time I look up—in New York City, anyway—something new is in the air. But we’re in a Recession, right? Tell me, just who is renting, buying, and patronizing those impressive structures?

In today’s crazy economic climate, one would think everyone would be cautious about building anything. As my associate editor writes in his story “Building Brand and Buzz,” gone are the days of “build it and they will come.”

With tight capital budgets, hospitals across the nation that are considering adding an interventional radiology suite must be asking themselves a similar question: If we build it, will they come?

The answer appears to be “yes.” According to marketing research and consulting firm IMV Medical Information Division, American hospitals are indeed building up their interventional radiology suites.

The recently released 2008/09 Interventional Angiography Market Summary Report indicates some 4.8 million procedures were performed in angio labs in 2008 (including noncoronary vascular angiographic and other procedures) at 1,720 hospitals with 150+ beds in the United States. This represents an annual increase of 4% to 5% from 2004 through 2008. Consistent with this growth, more than one third of hospitals report plans to purchase new labs, according to IMV.

“From 2004 to 2008, the number of angioplasties, stent placements, IVC filter placements, embolizations, and PICC lines/vascular access procedures has contributed to the overall increase of procedures performed in angio labs. We also see that angio labs are accommodating increased numbers of procedures such as vertebroplasties, biopsies, and RF tumor ablations,” said Lorna Young, senior director, market research, IMV Medical Information Division.

Where there is demand, there is supply. According to IMV’s report, over the next 2 to 3 years hospitals will seek to retool their older angio labs. “While the market for angio labs has experienced a slowdown over the past year, over one-third of the hospitals with 150+ beds are planning to purchase labs from 2009 to 2011+, and 90% of the planned angio lab purchases will have flat panel digital detectors,” said Young in a press statement. To learn more and purchase the full report, visit

But what about the capital budget crunch? Aren’t hospitals being squeezed at every turn? Said Young in an interview with IE, “What I found to be of most interest from the report is that the proportion of hospitals that have budgeted a million or more appears to have declined from 2005 to 2009. However, those hospitals that have budgeted for 2009 [for angio labs] have budgeted higher than in the past.”

Looking beyond equipment, there is a bricks and mortar issue. Are hospitals investing in building new IR labs? According to IMV’s report, 51% of the angio lab sites had one room, 30% had two rooms, and 19% had three or more rooms. Moreover, the report results indicate that the average replacement cycle for angio rooms is 11.5 years. I asked Young if that meant the equipping of the room or the actual rebuilding of the room. “For some respondents, that could translate into updating the actual physical space,” said Young. To learn more about planning and building your organization’s IR suite, see the article “Constructive Thinking” in this issue, authored by architect Jack F. Kerr, AIA.

In good economic times, building up is a no-brainer. While now may not be an ideal time, research indicates it may be time to at least lay a solid foundation for your next IR suite.

Marianne Matthews