America is providing an increasingly expanding marketing niche for medical imaging companies – obese people. Today over 28% of Americans are considered obese which presents a challenge to manufacturers of imaging equipment in two interesting ways.

First, excess fat blocks and diffuses penetrating x-rays so manufacturers faced with a challenge of getting clear enough images of plus-size patients.

Thanks to Siemens, I don’t have to go to veterinary clinics for my MRI scans.

This led Philips to develop “CT scanners that reduce X-ray doses in average-sized people by up to 70%.” —  which means that at normal levels of radiation you can x-ray people 70% larger. This is a welcome development because patients are subjected to lower levels of harmful radiation.

The second point of interest is that severely overweight people cannot fit inside diagnostic machines — leading Siemens to develop a larger MRI machine. As their ad notes, they’ve “expanded the bore” so their clients can expand market share.

The bore diameter which was 23.6 inches in 1997 has increased to a whopping 31.5 inches today. (that’s a 98.9 inch circumference). The weight capacity has more than doubled from 300lbs to 660lbs. The Chief executive of Siemens AG’s imaging division, Bernd Montag considers keeping the obese American patient “a design requirement.

“The U.S. is the biggest market for us, so every product we build has the obese American patient in mind,” said Bernd Montag, chief executive of Siemens AG’s imaging division, which makes computed tomography, or CT, scanners to support patients well over 600 pounds, though its MRI machines remain smaller. “It more or less has turned into a design requirement.”

And if this study from the World Health Organization is correct, over half of Americans will be obese by 2030. Which is why Siemen’s, Philips and other imaging companies are doing what they are doing. Catering to their slowly but surely expanding American market.

Source: The Wall Street Journal