Nuclear imaging is a non-invasive procedure except for intravenous injections with minimally painful. Nuclear medicine is a specialized branch of medical imaging that uses minute amounts of radioactive materials, radiopharmaceuticals, or radiotracers to diagnose/determine disease severity and treat a wide spectrum of diseases, including cancers, heart diseases, gastrointestinal and endocrinal and neurological disorders. Nuclear imaging works through capture and detection of radioactive emissions from the injected radiotracer through specialized imaging devices that produce pictures and detailed molecular information. Nuclear imaging techniques are also widely used as a therapeutic modality in combination with other radioactive materials (radioactive iodine (I-131)), especially for treatment of cancers.

List of advantages boosting the growth of the nuclear imaging market are:

  • Non-invasive process (except for intravenous radioisotope injection)
  • High potential for early disease diagnosis.
  • It produces accurate clinically beneficial information at the molecular level.
  • High accuracy rate and improved efficacy if combined with CT or MRI.

Nuclear Imaging – Market Dynamics

The increase in the geriatric population, the growth of global chronic patient pool, especially of cancer patients, increase access to healthcare services, and improvement in healthcare infrastructure are some of the factors attributing to the growth of the nuclear imaging market. This medical imaging process is highly indicative of the disease or the condition and cannot be reproduced using other imaging procedures. Moreover, it also holds the capability to detect the presence of disease at its earliest stages thereby, propelling the growth of the market. The emergence of new PET/MRI systems, especially for soft tissue imaging, hypoxia imaging for cancer screening and diagnosis, and the emergence of innovative radiotracers are increasing the diagnostic efficiency of nuclear imaging techniques in the global market. Favorable reimbursement policies and stringent patient care regulations in the healthcare industry will augment the growth of the global market.

The nuclear imaging market is projected to reach values of more than $3 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of approximately 8% during 2018-2023.

Nuclear Imaging – Product Type

In terms of products, nuclear imaging equipment can be broadly classified into Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET). The key difference between SPECT and PET imaging is the half-life of the isotope that each radiopharmaceutical tracer uses.

SPECT Equipment: In 2017, the SPECT nuclear devices segment contributed more than 60% to the nuclear medical imaging equipment market. The introduction of multiple new innovative SPECT devices with advanced software and widened applications will enable the leading vendors to gain a larger market share. New radiotracers have improved the functionality of SPECT devices and widened its scope of clinical applications, thereby driving growth. SPECT systems have a wide range of applications in areas of cardiovascular, oncology, general imaging or radiology, and neurology. Rising prevalence of these chronic diseases and improving diagnostic and treatment rates of diseases, especially cancers will boost the demand for SPECT nuclear equipment during the forecast period.

PET Equipment: PET equipment is the fastest growing segment of the nuclear imaging market. The emergence of advanced technologies and the advent of fusion imaging with PET/CT and PET/MRI have significantly increased its scope in areas such as cardiology and neurology. Major and emerging vendors launched multiple new PET systems in recent years are fueling the growth of the market. A next-generation positron biotracer being is launched to address the unmet clinical demand for identifying vulnerable plaques that can cause a stroke or a heart attack. Increasing incidence of cancer and rise in screening, diagnostic, and treatment rates will augment the growth of the PET market over the next few years.

The top vendors in the medical imaging market are Toshiba Medical, GE Healthcare, Siemens Healthineers, Koninklijke Philips, and Fujifilm.

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