VIDEO: CT imaging market trends and advances overview by Signify Research

The CT market saw a major boost from the COVID-19 pandemic, during which many hospitals purchased additional systems. This led to CT market growth from about $4.1 billion in 2019  to $5.1 billion in 2020.

"CT is definitely a high-growth modality because we are seeing this universal shift in medical imaging to 3D imaging due its advanced clinical capabilities," Jani explained. 

One of the key technology advances was the introduction of the first commercial photon-counting CT scanner, and more are expected to follow over the next couple years. Many expect this to be the way of the future in CT systems because it offers several advantages in improved image quality, lower radiation dose and built-in spectral CT capabilities. 

"Photon-counting is a real gamechanger in the CT market," Jani said. "We are expecting to see a lot more traction in this area over the next few years."

Just over a decade ago, there was a big movement to adopt 64-slice CT systems as a standard work-horse system. Now that these systems are reaching replacement age, Jani said many are being replaced by higher slice systems with improved image quality, larger fields of view and new technologies to aid workflow and improve image quality.

Jani said another technology that will see a lot of adoption is artificial intelligence (AI) in a variety of CT applications. This includes use for smart scheduling, automating CT protocols, new types of image reconstruction that provide higher image quality, speeding imaging workflows, image analysis and auto quantification. AI is also being used on the scanners to help better position the patient on the table to reduce the number of retakes. 

"One thing we saw a lot of last year at RSNA 2021 was AI being used for smart protocoling or protocol suggestion," Jani said. "This means the system looks at the specific patient characteristics and scan dynamic factors are incorporated into the protocol to help reduce the scan time, and sometimes for contrast use as well."

She also noted the possibility of CT moving to cold-cathode X-ray tube technology in the next decade, if vendors can fix issues with fast tube burnout or reduce costs for tubes and make them easy and fast to replace. 

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