Medical devices giant St. Jude Medical (STJ) has introduced the ViewMate Z intracardiac ultrasound system and the ViewFlex Plus Intracardiac Echocardiography (“ICE”) catheter.
ViewMate Z is used for real-time image guidance and visualization of a patient’s cardiac anatomy and is capable of delivering fast, high-fidelity images, which help direct diagnosis or provide therapy during electrophysiology procedures. The system is compatible with the new ViewFlex Plus ICE catheter.
ViewMate Z was designed and developed through St. Jude’s development and marketing agreement with California-based leading ultrasound systems provider ZONARE Medical Systems. The agreement marked the integration of St. Jude’s echocardiography catheters and ZONARE’s Convertible Ultrasound system technology.
ViewMate Z leverages ZONARE’s proprietary data acquisition and image formation technology dubbed “Zone Sonography” to deliver high-quality image and advanced image processing capabilities without the limitations of the traditional ultrasound systems. Zone Sonography is capable of acquiring ultrasound data up to ten times faster than the current systems.
Ultrasound imaging is minimally invasive and uses high-frequency sound waves (transmitted using a catheter) to produce anatomical images of the inside of the heart. Ultrasound allows physicians to visualize the real-time activity in the body, a major advancement over static medical imaging such as X-rays.
Ultrasound technology enables physicians to generate high-resolution intracardiac images giving a clear view inside the heart. This helps them reduce the time to perform cardiac procedures, thereby enabling faster patient recovery and improving hospital productivity.
St. Jude forayed into the high-growth ICE market in 2008 with its acquisition of leading electrophysiology products maker EP MedSystems for roughly $92 million. The company obtained the ViewFlex ICE catheters and ViewMate II ultrasound imaging system through this acquisition.
St. Jude competes with Boston Scientific (BSX), Siemens (SI), Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ) Biosense Webster and GE Healthcare, a unit of General Electric (GE), in the ICE market. The collaboration with ZONARE has strengthened St. Jude’s foothold in the ICE market, which is growing  by roughly 25%-30% annually. Currently, we have a Neutral recommendation on St. Jude, which is supported by a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold).


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