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Upcoming Laser Technologies Integral to Medical Device Growth
Feb 23, 2004
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The spurt of newer technologies in the U.S. medical laser devices market has made possible the treatment of various critical health conditions, which were previously considered difficult to treat, reports Frost & Sullivan. In a bid to encourage adoption, participants are focusing on creating awareness among end users, according to the market research firm.

Lasers are now widely used among patients who cannot undergo a bypass surgery. Similarly, the quick rehabilitation period and minimal post-operative pain involved with laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) procedures in ophthalmology has contributed to their extensive use. Expansion to areas such as Cardiology for Transmyocardial Revascularization and Urology for BPH treatment would ensure long-term growth of laser markets.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan reveals that revenue in this industry totaled U.S. $546.3 million in 2003 and is projected to reach $672.4 million by 2009.

The increase in demand for different types of lasers can be partially attributed to the growing baby-boomer population in the U.S, says the research firm. Age-related diseases such as presbyopia, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy have positively influenced the market.

With the average number of baby boomers suffering from such diseases going up, there has also been a corresponding rise in technologies that can effectively combat them.

Sophisticated, vision correction techniques such as Customcornea are capable of providing 'customized' treatments by mapping the cornea of an individual patient. This, Frost & Sullivan says, would naturally increase the accuracy and precision of the treatment.

"Several patients are opting for lasers mainly because it reduces the complications involved with many diseases," says Dhiraj Ajmani, industry analyst. "Since lasers are non-invasive, a patient tends to perceive it as being less dangerous and non-threatening."

However, the lack of sufficient clinical data is likely to slow down market growth, says Frost & Sullivan. Even while procedures such as laser assisted lead removal, excimer laser angioplasty, and transmyocardial revascularization (TMR) offer great potential in the cardiology segment, surgeons remain unclear as to the clinical end points and long term implications.

The frequent introduction of new techniques also challenges the expertise among surgeons. In many instances, they prefer to opt for the comfortable familiarity of older modalities.

"Generating awareness among physicians is central to the growth of the laser devices market," says Mr. Ajmani of Frost & Sullivan. "It is essential to provide training to surgeons and practitioners to encourage uptake."

Another factor that is likely to restrain growth is that many healthcare facilities are still paying for older equipment, according to the research firm. For instance, many renal centers are financially committed to the high-priced extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) platforms even though they are keen to try the newer laser modality of treatment.

Additionally, the lengthy turn around time involved with FDA approval also acts in the favor of older procedures and seriously incapacitates new entrants. In an effort to reduce FDA paperwork and increase their market share, Frost & Sullivan says many participants have started focussing on overseas markets.

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