Hybrid Imaging is the fusion of two or more imaging technologies into a single new form of imaging. The image obtained with a hybrid imaging system is more powerful in terms of accuracy rather than the combination of two individual images. Along with depicting the anatomy, hybrid imaging also allows to see the molecular processes in vivo within their larger anatomic content. The technologies in hybrid imaging include ultrasonography, magnetic resonance imagining (MRI), computed tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET). The fusion of these technologies has given rise to hybrid imaging systems. The hybrid of PET/CT was introduced in 2001, and SPECT/CT was introduced in 2003. PET/MRI is also an available hybrid imaging system, but not used widely. Both hybrid imaging techniques PET/CT and SPECT/CT have good relevance in clinical and pre-clinical practice. Hybrid imaging scans provide a patient to be stationed in the same place for both scans.
Differences in involuntary movements of the internal organ are be minimized in hybrid imaging systems. With the evolution of hybrid imaging systems, the time required for scanning has reduced. Usually, the required time with standalone imaging systems is an hour or even more, but with hybrid imaging systems the scanning time has reduced up to twenty-five minutes to half an hour.
Rising importance of combination analysis of anatomic and molecular data in the diagnosis of diseases is also a driver in the growth of hybrid imaging technique. Looking ahead the benefits of hybrid imaging and its rising use in the diagnosis, the area of growth is the combination hybrid imaging of PET or SPECT with MRI. High prevalence of chronic diseases, growing awareness about early diagnosis and increase the number of diagnostic procedures are the driving factors for the growth of hybrid imaging system market. Some of the restraining factors for the growth of hybrid imaging system is site accreditation, technologist training, physician training and involvement of high cost for procedure among the underprivileged population.
The segmentation of hybrid imaging systems is done by technology, applications, end users, and geography. By technology, the hybrid imaging systems are segmented according to the fusion of the systems like PET/CT or SPECT/CT or PET/MRI. By applications, the PET/CT scanner is used for diagnosis in the field of oncology, neurology, and cardiology, whereas, SPECT/CT scanner is used for the diagnosis of infections, inflammation, thyroid disorders, oncology and orthopedic problems. End users segmentation is Hospitals and Diagnostic Centers. Segmentation by Geography is North America, West Europe, APEJ, Japan, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East and Africa.
With the emergence of hybrid imaging system technique, a patient can be scanned in a single session, and the desired anatomical and functional data of the organ of interest can be achieved. Among the existing hybrid technologies, the PET/CT has evolved due to continuous innovation, which enables more accurate measurements of metabolic processes, data quantification, and analysis of neurologic disease, cancerous tissue, and cardiac blood flow. PET/CT a standard hybrid imaging technique used in oncology and SPECT/CT which is under an evolving phase is used for cardiac scans.
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In the past five years, the standalone systems are replaced by hybrid imaging systems, a trend observed globally. The highest number of installations of PET/CT are seen in the USA. In Western Europe, the PET/CT scans increased by 72% in 2008, but SPECT/CT scans installation is lesser than PET/CT scans. Middle East is an emerging market in the hybrid imaging system with PET/CT, SPECT/CT, and PET/MRI. In North America, hybrid scanning systems have the highest share in the diagnosis of cardiology and account for the largest proportion of the global nuclear medicine market followed by Europe and Asia-Pacific. Asian countries are also expected to show growth in the coming years due to rising awareness in the early diagnosis of life threatening diseases and advancement in the field of nuclear medicine.
Top players in the Hybrid imaging systems are Siemens Healthcare, GE Healthcare, Philips Healthcare, Hitachi Ltd., Atlantis Worldwide, Shared Imaging, Amber Diagnostic Inc.