Philips to Market Navigator for Structural Heart Disease Repairs

Royal Philips Electronics NV is selling a new tool to help surgeons navigate the heart as the Dutch manufacturer seeks to boost its position in the market for image-guided therapy.

Philips said today it has won clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its Echonavigator, a device that gives a combined view of X-ray and 3D ultrasound images of the heart, letting surgeons perform minimally invasive structural heart disease repairs. Following earlier European certification, Amsterdam-based Philips will now introduce the system globally, it said in a statement.

While health-care equipment budgets are under pressure in the U.S. and Europe, hospitals are willing to invest in techniques that make surgical procedures less complex and reduce the time patients spend in the hospital, Louise Verheij, vice president of marketing at Philips Healthcare, said by phone.

“What we’re seeing is hospitals shifting from open heart surgery to minimally invasive procedures,” she said. “It’s cheaper because they can perform an operation without having to cut people open, and it will take less time to recover.”

During procedures like repairing a hole in a heart wall, ultrasound imaging provides insights into the heart’s soft-tissue anatomy, while X-ray has strengths in visualizing the catheters and heart implants. The market for these procedures is relatively small at the moment, and is growing at around 40 percent annually, Verheij said.

Philips competes in the global medical imaging market with General Electric Co. and Siemens AG. The Dutch company is No. 2 in ultrasound, the biggest segment of the market, and the leader in interventional X-ray. Siemens, based in Munich, has spent billions of euros to expand its medical diagnostics business in recent years.

Philips’ health-care unit generated 10 billion euros ($13 billion) in revenue last year, with imaging systems accounting for 38 percent of sales. The company spent 803 million euros on research and development in the division, on a total budget of 1.8 billion euros for the company.

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