Across the globe, the population of the elderly is increasing at a high rate. The United Nations, in its latest World Population Ageing report, estimated that 703 million people on earth were more than 65 years old in 2019, and that their population will touch 1.5 billion by 2050. Such age brings about physical and immunological weakness as well as glandular disfunction, which result in several types of diseases and disorders. This is why the geriatric population is more susceptible to illnesses than those in the comparatively younger age groups. A lot of health issues require medical imaging for effective diagnosis, via various modalities, including nuclear imaging.
Therefore, with the growth in the number of the elderly and their susceptibility to diseases, the nuclear imaging equipment market would also witness considerable progress in the coming years. In such a process, an extremely small amount of a radioactive material is injected into the body, and its absorption by a tissue or organ is detected by a gamma camera, which catches the radiation thus produced, thereby helping doctors assess the functioning of that body part. Thallium, technetium, gallium, xenon, and iodine are among the numerous radioactive elements or radionucleotides used for the purpose.
Single-positron emission computed tomography (SPECT), hybrid positron emission tomography (PET), and planar scintigraphy are the various nuclear imaging techniques. Among these, the highest demand in the past has been for SPECT scanners, as they are widely used to asses the severity of brain injury, where CT and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have certain limitations, especially in detecting the flow of blood in the veins and arteries. In the coming years, hybrid PET systems are expected to witness the most rapidly increasing demand.
Nuclear imaging equipment finds application in cardiology, oncology, neurology, and several other medical subspecialties. Historically, the highest use of these devices has been in oncology, due to the rising incidence of cancer. As per the World Cancer Research Fund, 18 million people were diagnosed with malignant tumors in 2018; the World Health Organization pegs the global cancer mortality for that year at 9.6 million. This is leading to increasing testing for the disease, via nuclear imaging modalities, for diagnosis, therapeutic evaluation, and even during surgeries.
Such tests are done at hospitals, diagnostic centers, research institutes, and numerous other settings. Among these, hospitals are the largest users of such devices, as they host the highest number of patients. Hospitals have skilled professionals, who also offer medical advice, rather than just scan results, which is why patients prefer visiting these over diagnostic centers. This is also why, even in the coming years, these healthcare settings would account for the highest procurement rate of such equipment.
Across the world, North America has been the largest user of nuclear imaging, as it accounts for extremely high cancer and cardiovascular disease rates. As such technologies are helpful in seeing the blood flow, they are being rapidly used for heart diseases. Further, the continent is the first to embrace advanced technology, which further leads to its dominance on the industry. In the coming years, the nuclear imaging equipment market growth would be the fastest in Asia-Pacific (APAC), on account of the growing geriatric population and cardiovascular, oncological, and neurological disease incidence.
Thus, with the increasing incidence of various diseases and the need for effective diagnosis, the procurement rate of nuclear imaging scanners would also rise across the world.