Two US Firsts Put Continuous Innovation, Explosive American Growth, on Display
United Imaging, a global leader in advanced medical imaging and radiotherapy equipment, has begun unveiling new technology and strategic collaborations that showcase significant commitment to U.S. market growth.
The company had already announced an agreement just prior to the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) to launch the country’s first-ever mobile digital PET/CT scanner. Today, it unveiled a new MR system called the uMR Omega* that offers the world’s first ultra-wide 75-cm bore, the widest on the market. The U.S. will be the first market to receive the uMR Omega, underscoring United Imaging’s significant investment to provide access to high-quality imaging to all patients in this country.
“We continuously push the envelope of MR technology, and with the introduction of this product, we set a new benchmark for future clinical MR systems,” said Steve Tan, CEO, Imaging & Treatment Business Group, United Imaging. “MRI has suffered from a poor patient experience, given the limited scanner space and weight capacity. uMR Omega will help imaging providers open access to more patients who need an MRI.”
The past decade has seen increased focus on patient experience, including bore size, exam speed, and in-bore entertainment. However, access to critically important MRI remains limited for those who need it. About 5-7% of the population is estimated to be claustrophobic, and one study showed that up to 13% of patients receiving an MRI reported having a panic attack during the procedure. A greater number suffer significant anxiety or disorientation when in an enclosed space during the medical exam. This anxiety can limit their desire to seek or successfully complete an MRI study. Small bore size plays a key role in how patients perceive the experience.
In addition, obesity rates continue to rise, here in the U.S. and abroad. In the U.S. alone, the obesity rate is approaching 40 percent after holding around 34-35 percent between 2005 and 2012. In addition, individuals labeled as “extremely obese” currently make up 8% of the population, a number that continues to grow. The bore size, table weight capacity, and scanner capabilities of current MR devices limit access for broad-shouldered and bariatric patients.
“Think about the experience of being in a middle seat in economy on an airplane versus first class,” commented Jeffrey Bundy, CEO, UIH Solutions. “There is a big difference in how you feel when your knees touch the seat in front of you, and your elbows touch the passengers next to you, and you can’t get up from your seat — as opposed to how you feel with even an extra inch on all sides. Five centimeters is a huge difference on an airplane. Add the anxiety of a medical procedure and uncertainty about your health, and the feeling is even more significant in the context of an exam.”
The additional space and comfort of uMR Omega’s ultra-wide 75-cm bore may also benefit pregnant women needing scans, as well as children whose mothers can lie with them in the bore to help them stay still, reducing the need for sedation. Providers can also anticipate improved off-center imaging applications.
In addition to the increased gantry size, the uMR Omega increases table weight capacity for the first time in MR imaging to 680 lbs. United Imaging consulted bariatric caregivers and referenced bariatric wheelchairs to select the increased weight capacity and bore size specifications. Hospitals are redesigning to accommodate this growing population, and now, they will have an MRI to better serve their bariatric patients.
The United Imaging family of MRIs has a reputation for high homogeneity, gradient performance, and coverage, providing both the quality and ease to achieve excellent diagnostic imaging. The field of view increases to 60 x 60 x 50 cm to expand the usable imaging space. Increased bore size, imaging FOV, and table capacity help providers accommodate larger patients.
“The continuous innovation focused on patient access is what excites me about being at United Imaging, after almost 30 years in healthcare,” Bundy said. “I have been involved in bringing multiple generations of imaging equipment to the market. I know what patient comfort and access does to the MRI business. What we are doing is unprecedented, and it will make a difference in patients’ lives very soon. The uMR Omega has the potential to literally provide people who cannot receive scans today with a life-saving MRI.”