Market research predicts strong ultrasound growth

August 14, 1991

Worldwide ultrasound sales should total over $2.2 billion in 1991,according to a market analysis prepared by Market IntelligenceResearch Corp. of Mountain View, CA. Sales should grow at an annualrate of 10.4% through 1997 (see graph), causing ultrasound

Worldwide ultrasound sales should total over $2.2 billion in 1991,according to a market analysis prepared by Market IntelligenceResearch Corp. of Mountain View, CA. Sales should grow at an annualrate of 10.4% through 1997 (see graph), causing ultrasound toreplace x-ray as the top medical imaging modality by 1993. Theannual x-ray market will remain flat at an estimated $2.5 billion,said MIRC research analyst Khurran Durrani.

Growth in ultrasound sales should slow a bit in 1994 as themarket approaches saturation and the average system price declines,Durrani said.

Sales are expected to be strongest in the U.S., where ultrasoundrevenues will climb to nearly 47% of the worldwide market in 1992and continue upward through the next few years, according to anupcoming MIRC report. The report is tentatively entitled New technologiesexpand world ultrasound applications.

Government-imposed limitations on hospital equipment purchasesin western Europe have led surgeons to depend on ultrasound morethan other imaging modalities in that region. Increased use ofintraoperative ultrasound is one reason Europe is the second largestultrasound market in the world. European ultrasound sales shouldgarner nearly 26% of the world market in 1992, Durrani said.

While the appeal of ultrasound is proportionately greater inEurope than in the U.S., American ultrasound sales will continueto be larger in absolute terms, he said.

"In the U.S., surgeons have the authority to buy the scannersthey want. In Europe, the government sets a limit on the amountof equipment purchased. This is why we don't see a full proliferationof ultrasound systems there," Durrani said.

Japan, previously a closed ultrasound market, is beginningto see greater penetration by foreign manufacturers, primarilyin the form of joint ventures with local companies. The Japaneseultrasound market will remain relatively small, however, amountingto about 11% of worldwide sales in 1992. More foreign involvementwill continue in coming years, Durrani said.

Sales of ultrasound systems for radiology, cardiology and ob/gynclinical applications will grow at a healthy pace over the nextfew years. The market share of these applications is expectedto decline slightly, however, as the use of new ultrasound technologiesgrows, he said.

The transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) ultrasound segmentwill experience a swift rise in market share, more than doublingto 4.5% of the world market by 1993. TEE sales should grow ata robust 34% compound annual rate from 1987 through 1997. Growthin TEE sales is fueled by strong interest on the part of anesthesiologistsand cardiologists. Sales of ultrasound systems for TEE applicationsshould surpass those of peripheral vascular (PV) ultrasound latein this decade, Durrani said.

Growth of PV ultrasound sales will decline over the next fewyears because of market saturation and a decrease in the averageprice. Technology transfer from high-end systems and cost advantageshave increased user preference for mid-range PV systems. As thePV growth rate falls, so will its ultrasound market share, hesaid.

Ultrasound sales in the ophthalmology segment are also expectedto be sluggish, with an estimated annual growth rate of 5.4% from1987 through 1991.

"Ophthalmology is flat because there has been a slow introductionof technology into the market," Durrani said.

The intravascular ultrasound market will grow at a healthy25.3% annual rate worldwide through 1997, with U.S. sales expectedto surge, according to Durrani.

"There's a large future (for intravascular ultrasound).As surgeons find new applications, unit shipments will increaseconsiderably," he said.

Increased use of advanced nuclear medicine technologies--primarilypositron emission tomography and single-photon emission computedtomography--will trim ultrasound growth slightly, especially incardiac applications. The overall effect of nuclear medicine onworld ultrasound sales should be marginal, however, affectingthe growth rate by only a few percentage points, Durrani said.

BRIEFLY NOTED:

  • Dornier Medical Systems received approval from the Foodand Drug Administration last month for U.S. sales of its MFL 5000combination renal lithotripter and urological workstation.

Dornier is concentrating on urological equipment as the FDAcontinues to move slowly on approval for biliary lithotripters.It is also diversifying into medical technologies outside of extracorporealshock-wave lithotripsy, including laser lithotripsy and ultrasound.The vendor has installed 200 renal ESW lithotripters in the U.S.since 1984.

  • Mallinckrodt Medical has signed a worldwide research andlicensing agreement with Biogen of Cambridge, MA. The two firmswill collaborate in developing imaging agents targeted at bloodclots in veins and arteries.

The agreement is the first for Biogen involving its proprietaryantithrombotic drug, Hirulog, which is under clinical investigationfor prevention and therapy of diseases caused by blood clots.Mallinckrodt has obtained exclusive rights to radiolabel Hirulogfor nuclear medicine imaging applications.