Clinical Optical Imaging Market to Hit $2 Billion by 2020

Applications such as real-time optical biopsies and surgical guidance are expected to grow into multibillion-dollar segments over the long term.

health it and lux research

Led by optical coherence tomography (OCT), the clinical optical imaging market will rise to $2 billion in 2020, more than doubling from 2012, according to a report from emerging technologies analyst Lux Research.

Typical OCT systems, the size of a medical cart, cost on average between $80,000 and $250,000, but Compact Imaging is working to make these devices more affordable by turning to solid-state components, instead of discrete optical elements.

The report, titled "Advancing Clinical Imaging Beyond the Existing Standard of Care: Evaluating New Optical Imaging Modalities," is part of the Lux Research BioElectronics Intelligence service. It found that with a market share of over 60 percent, OCT is expected to retain its dominant position as it builds on its ophthalmology applications, while expanding into cardiology, oncology and gastroenterology.

Milos Todorovic, a Lux Research analyst and the lead author of the report, told eWEEK that the most surprising finding of the study was the breadth of applications, including dermatology, cardiology, ophthalmology and oncology, among others, where OCT can find its place, leading to the fact that all of the leading developers are not competing directly against each other.

Todorovic noted the two biggest challenges in developing OCT device technology have to do with market adoption and finding the most compelling early use cases—outside ophthalmology—to prove the value of the technology.

Lux Research analysts examined 16 technology developers in the optical imaging industry and evaluated them on the Lux Innovation Grid, finding Mela Sciences, Bioptigen and Infraredx are the leaders in novel clinical optical imaging technologies.

Rated as "Dominant" on the Lux Innovation Grid, each has achieved Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CE clearances, allowing it to market its products in the United States and Europe.

Other technologies such as near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and photoacoustic tomography (PAT) also hold high potential for growth, while applications such as real-time optical biopsies and surgical guidance will grow into multibillion-dollar segments over the long term, the report projected.

The company's research also indicated multimodal systems are long-term targets, and while investors looking to enter the OCT market can use acquisitions to gain immediate market share, their longer-term focus should be on firms developing multimodal systems such as PAT.

The report noted these systems combine the most attractive features of constituent technologies, such as the penetration depth of ultrasound with resolution of optical systems, and potentially address much larger markets.

"Similar to other digital medical imaging modalities, large volumes of data are generated and require appropriate storage, analytics and dissemination approaches," Todorovic explained. "Unlike many big imaging systems like MRI, CT and PET, these are intended for use in doctor offices … and securing appropriate communications infrastructure is important."

He also noted that there are no specific privacy or security issues around clinical optical imaging technology, explaining that all of the general issues that apply to medical imaging can be transposed to this market segment.