40% of Hospitals to Upgrade Ultrasound
Running the Numbers
Product Showcase: GE Healthcare Introduces Laptop-Sized Ultrasound Systems
Site Sighting: New Site Educates Physicians About HIFU

40% of Hospitals to Upgrade Ultrasound

by Dana Hinesly

The use of diagnostic ultrasound is growing considerably in hospitals across the country, according to a recent study of 2,975 hospital-based general ultrasound or radiology departments in the United States released in May by IMV Medical Information Division (IMV of Des Plaines, Ill).

Barry B. Goldberg, MD, (center) reviews images with colleagues in one of the ultrasound reading rooms at Thomas Jefferson University Medical School and Hospital.

The “2005 Diagnostic Ultrasound Market Summary Report” indicates a steady growth in ultrasound since IMV’s first look at the modality in 1998. In hospitals with more than 200 beds, the number of exams grew 41%—from 13.1 million in 1998 to 18.5 million in 2005, which is an annual average growth rate of about 5% per year.

An estimated 31.2 million patient exams were conducted in 4,720 general ultrasound or radiology departments in US hospitals last year.

But not all hospitals report an increase in inpatient volume. At Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) Medical School and Hospital (Philadelphia), for example, inpatient ultrasound exams have remained steady—most likely a direct result of the increased reliance on CT imaging for abdominal screening.

“Our greatest growth is really occurring in our outpatient locations, which, during the past year, went up 22%,” said Barry B. Goldberg, MD, director of the division of ultrasound and radiologic imaging, and professor of radiology at TJU. Goldberg attributed the rising numbers to increased utilization, as well as budding interest from area specialists. “We are recognized as leaders in musculoskeletal and vascular,” he said. “As ultrasound’s usefulness becomes more recognized among orthopedists, rheumatologists, and others, we are seeing more referrals in those areas.”

The report also indicates a push toward the latest technology. The average number of ultrasound units installed per hospital radiology department is 2.5, and more than half of all ultrasound systems in hospital-based departments were installed in 2002 or after.

Ready for What’s Next

Facilities also have an eye toward the future. According to the report, more than 40% of ultrasound sites are improving their current capability, either by adding new units, replacing old ones, or updating their current systems.

TJU, for instance, plans to purchase five additional systems—at both ends of the price spectrum—well before year’s end. “We are looking at both high-end machines with 3D capabilities and smaller, low-end systems that allow us to more easily take the equipment on portable assignments,” Goldberg said. “More and more, the weight of the machine is a factor for the sonographers when moving the heavier machines to the patient’s bedside, the nursery, or the operating and emergency rooms.” He added that the smaller systems also would alleviate the stress placed on the professionals moving and working with the systems.

Goldberg’s facility also falls into a small group identified by the study—those using commercial contrast agents with ultrasound technology. “Our high-end machines also will have ultrasound contrast capabilities, because although there is limited use now, we feel that in the long term, ultrasound contrast will play an important part in diagnosis,” he said. “We always try to get the latest technology, and contrast provides improved detection of liver tumors—both primary and metastatic. It also enhances visualization of tumors elsewhere in organs, such as the kidney and pancreas, and it is valuable if looking for areas of hemorrhage when treating trauma cases.”

One key driver in ultrasound innovation is the growing interest in 3D and 4D imaging and instant optimization. Of the new ultrasound units that people are planning to buy in the next 2 to 3 years, about two thirds of them will have either 3D or 4D capability.

The report also covers adoption trends of key technologies, including intracavity probes, harmonic imaging, voice control, compound imaging, flat-panel monitors, and extended field of view imaging.

According to Goldberg, ultrasound is branching into emerging areas of science. “Research also is being carried out using elastography, which is measuring the rigidity or elasticity of tissues,” he noted. “Ultrasound is continually advancing, and we are seeing both improved resolution and more technologies being offered.”

Improved Communication

The increased use of enterprise-wide networking also is making its mark in ultrasound departments. Today’s health care institutions are using computer infrastructures to not only transmit images internally, but also to share them with other, off-site locations.

According to Lorna Young, MBA, senior director of market research at IMV, “One of the bigger changes since 1998 was that only about one fifth of the locations had workstations, and now nearly half of the sites have workstations that are used for separate offline measurement and analysis of the equipment. And those workstations are also likely to be networked—whereas before, about one third of them were stand-alone, now virtually all of them are networked.”

In 1998, the proportion of ultrasound sites with networks in 200-plus-bed hospitals was 26%. In this year’s report, the number had grown to 88%. (The 1998 report did not include hospitals with fewer than 200 beds.)

The full report includes in-depth information about the equipment as well as a detailed trend analysis. For more information, e-mail or call IMV at (847) 297-1404.

A benchmark report including such information as types of procedures, patient exams per unit, and patient exams per site also is available. To read the table of contents, go to www.imvlimited.com/mid/mod_benchrep.html.

Running the Numbers

26% of the overall diagnostic ultrasound market in the United States is held by Philips Medical Systems (Andover, Mass). GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wis) and Siemens Medical Solutions (Malvern, Pa) are the next two holders of market share,* and SonoSite Inc (Bothell, Wash) claims fourth place in market share. This information is researched annually by Klein Biomedical Consultants Inc (KBC of New York) and is compiled into a detailed report; released in April, the “USA 2005 Klein Report” is in its 28th year. According to KBC President Harvey G. Klein, PhD, the report includes a 5-year diagnostic ultrasound forecast, worldwide market share numbers, and much more; the cost is $30,000. For more information, call (212) 362-0579 or e-mail .
* Klein would not confirm which company held the second and third market shares.

The Voluson i from GE Healthcare

Product Showcase: GE Healthcare Introduces Laptop-Sized Ultrasound Systems

GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wis) has introduced four new clinically specialized ultrasound systems to address health care providers’ growing demand for sophisticated, real-time imaging at the point of care. The new systems are part of the Compact Series, a new line of ultrasound products that place the power and imaging capabilities of a high-performance, 400-pound system into a laptop-sized design.

“Until now, the broad adoption of compact ultrasound has been hindered by image quality limitations and the industry’s ‘one size fits all’ approach to compact system design,” said Omar Ishrak, president and CEO of GE Healthcare’s clinical systems division. “By working with physicians from a range of medical specialties, we’ve learned that image quality, portability, and clinical specialization are all essential to expanding ultrasound’s role in health care. We’ve developed our new compact series to address these needs and bring the benefits of ultrasound to virtually all clinicians and patients—creating a pathway for ultrasound to become as ubiquitous in patient care as the stethoscope today.”

The Voluson i captured these fetal feet

The Compact Series builds upon GE Healthcare’s 2005 introduction of the Vivid i, a high-performance cardiovascular ultrasound system in a compact design. New is the Voluson i and Logiq i systems—each “i” product is designed to bring specialized, console-quality imaging performance and portability to traditional applications. Voluson i is designed for obstetrics and gynecology applications; the Logiq i will serve the general imaging needs of radiology. The company’s new “e” products focus on expanding ultrasound’s reach to new clinical areas. The new Logiq e was uniquely designed with the speed requirements and imaging applications to support real-time clinical decisions in emergency and surgical settings; and the Vivid e provides a dedicated cardiac ultrasound imaging solution for the physician’s office.

GE Healthcare’s Voluson i, Logiq e, and Vivid e systems are FDA cleared and commercially available in the United States. Logiq i also is FDA cleared, and plans for commercial introduction have been slated for September 2006.

—M. Said

Site Sighting: New Site Educates Physicians About HIFU


EDAP TMS SA, Vaulx-en-Velin, France, has launched HIFU Planet, an online education resource to help both physicians and patients learn about the high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) treatment of localized prostate cancer. This site provides information about HIFU treatment, its effectiveness shown via clinical trials, patient testimonials, interactive discussions, and the considerations for determining when HIFU therapy should be used. Also available online is an interactive anonymous Q&A arena—questions are answered by medical professionals, and the answers are archived on the site.