Healthcare Industry News:  ultrasound imaging 

Devices Radiology Cardiology

 News Release - May 16, 2006

GE Healthcare and St. Jude Medical Announce Collaboration Agreement to Help Fight Heart Disease and Stroke

Collaboration Agreement Brings Together Real-Time Imaging Technologies to Help Physicians Combat Disease

WAUKESHA, Wis. & ST. PAUL, Minn.--(HSMN NewsFeed)--May 16, 2006--GE Healthcare (NYSE:GE ) and St. Jude Medical, Inc. (NYSE:STJ ) today announced a significant development and collaboration agreement that is intended to bring an integrated imaging and monitoring capability to cardiac catheterization labs around the world. Under terms of the agreement, GE and St. Jude Medical will develop a state-of-the-art cardiovascular ultrasound imaging system with fully integrated intracardiac echocardiography (ICE) imaging capabilities, intended for use in treating patients suffering from heart disease.

Specifically, heart rhythm disease, which affects more than 8 million people globally, is a dysfunction in the electrical workings of a patient's heart, disturbing the heart's ability to beat normally and pump blood efficiently. The irregular electrical pulses pose significant risks such as heart muscle damage and stroke. The most common heart rhythm disorder, atrial fibrillation (AF), is an irregular and rapid rhythm where the heart's atria quiver instead of pumping efficiently. Each year, more than 380,000 new cases of AF are diagnosed worldwide.

For many AF patients, existing therapies including medications are ineffective or cause significant side effects, such as severe reduction in stamina. Ablation, in which an electrophysiologist eliminates the tissues in the heart that contribute to the disturbance of electrical flow, is an effective treatment with a success rate of 84 percent to 87 percent.(a) Because of its complexity and procedure time, ablation currently is performed less often than indicated, but better visualization technology is expected to make ablation procedures more accessible to patients.

Through the GE-St. Jude Medical collaboration, GE's ultrasound technology will be integrated with St. Jude Medical's catheter technology to provide physicians with real-time ultrasound imaging inside the heart, with direct visualization of both blood flow and other catheters used during cardiac procedures. The combined imaging technology is expected to give physicians high-quality diagnostic images of cardiac structures and blood flow throughout the entire heart, enhancing visibility and enabling more successful procedures.

"These new visualization tools are like having eyes inside the patient's heart, without actually having to open the chest," said Dr. Laurence M. Epstein, chief of the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service at Brigham and Women's Hospital. "The development of ICE technology has changed how we approach ablation procedures. We can visualize, in real time, the actual anatomic structures that we are targeting."

"GE Healthcare technologies are utilized in 112 of the 120 electrophysiology teaching institutions today. This latest agreement with St. Jude Medical is a natural extension of our commitment to delivering state-of-the-art tools and technologies to the electrophysiologist ," said Laura King, global vice president, Interventional, Cardiology and Surgery, of GE Healthcare. "We are excited about bringing together the expertise from two innovative companies to enable effective, minimally invasive therapies," said King.

"Atrial fibrillation is one of the largest unmet clinical needs in cardiovascular medicine today," said Dr. Peter Chen, president of St. Jude Medical's organization that is developing the ICE catheter. "By working with GE Healthcare, we are enhancing our ongoing efforts to improve treatment options for AF patients and their physicians," said Chen.

About GE Healthcare:

GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies that are shaping a new age of patient care. GE Healthcare's expertise in medical imaging and information technologies, medical diagnostics, patient monitoring and life support systems, disease research, drug discovery, and biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies is helping physicians detect disease earlier and to tailor personalized treatments for patients. GE Healthcare offers a broad range of products and services that are improving productivity in healthcare and enhancing patient care by enabling healthcare providers to better diagnose and treat cancer, heart disease, neurological diseases, and other conditions.

GE Healthcare is a $15 billion unit of General Electric Company (NYSE:GE ) headquartered in the United Kingdom. Worldwide, GE Healthcare employs more than 43,000 people committed to serving healthcare professionals and their patients in more than 100 countries.

For more information about GE Healthcare, visit our website at

About St. Jude Medical:

St. Jude Medical is dedicated to making life better for cardiac, neurological and chronic pain patients worldwide through excellence in medical device technology and services. The Company has five major focus areas that include: cardiac rhythm management, atrial fibrillation, cardiac surgery, cardiology and neuromodulation. Headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., St. Jude Medical employs approximately 10,000 people worldwide. For more information, please visit

(a) APAF: N Engl J Med. 2006 Mar 2; 354(9):967-9; Catheter Ablation of Long-Lasting Persistent Atrial Fibrillation Critical Structures for Termination Posted 11/08/2005

Source: GE Healthcare

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