by Allen Caron
Surgical imaging has long been a challenge for surgeons. Until about four years ago, patients undergoing surgery needed to be scanned post-procedure to ensure that the surgery was successful. However, intraoperative computed tomography (iCT) procedures now provide surgeons with a way to ensure successful surgeries before the patient has even left the operating room.
According to Dr. Ali Bydon, Clinical Director of Spine Neurosurgery and Director of the Spinal Biomechanics & Surgical Laboratory at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center:
"That [technology] means less trips to the operating room by the patient, better quality surgery, greater accuracy in removal of tumors, better patient outcomes, and potentially less healthcare expenditures."
A video produced by the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center explains how iCT helps with patient safety and surgeon accuracy:
One company making huge strides in the iCT arena is Winnipeg, CA-based IMRIS Inc * (Nasdaq:IMRS). On July 22nd, they received FDA 510(k) clearance to market VISIUS iCT, a ceiling-mounted scanner. Unlike rail-mounted systems of the past, this ceiling-mounted alternative clears up floor space in the operating room. The VISIUS iCT surgical theater offers a 64-slice scanner with diagnostic quality imaging, along with a personalized dose management system. The iCT also has the longest scanner travel range currently available on the market. By minimizing the space used by the scanner, surgeons will be better able to move surgical equipment throughout the space.
IMRS closed July 30th at 2.71, down 0.05, with a market cap of 149.55 million. Its 52-week trading range is 2.21-4.75.
Another company making waves in the medical imaging community is FONAR Corporation (Nasdaq:FONR), based in Melville, NY. FONAR bills itself as the "Inventor of MR Imaging" and has had recent success with its Upright Multi-Position MRI Scanner. The Upright scanner allows doctors to view patients in a weight-bearing position, which can be helpful in diagnosing spinal problems. FONAR founder Raymond V. Damadian, M.D., recently presented at the Medserena Upright Imaging Center in London. The company recently sold one of their Upright scanners to the Center, which opened on May 28th of this year.
FONR closed July 30th at 5.85, up 0.04, with a market cap of 35.66 million. Its 52-week trading range is 3.02-7.94.
Nashua, NH-based iCAD Inc (Nasdaq:ICAD) provides imaging and workflow solutions for doctors looking to detect cancer earlier. Their Computer-Aided Detection (CAD) products include SecondLook. This CAD product will be a component of the PowerLook Advanced Mammogram Platform, built in partnership with FujiFilm's Aspire HD Full-Field Digital Mammography System. The platform was recently approved by the FDA and helps doctors detect certain cancers.
ICAD closed July 30th at 5.90, down 0.30, with a market cap of 63.93 million. Its 52-week trading range is 1.85-6.90.
Each of these small cap companies continues to release progressive new technologies for imaging and diagnosing medical problems, either in advance of surgery or during the procedure. Those interested in healthcare investing may do well to keep an eye on these imaging technology companies.
* Denotes of a client of Allen & Caron, author of this article.