Biotronik boosts MRI-safe options for pacemaker tech

Germany's Biotronik says it's upping the ante in the ongoing industry race to release more MRI-safe defibrillators and pacers. The next weapon: more scanning options.

The Berlin-based cardiac company says it is "extending" its ProMRI technology so even its pacemaker patients can receive full-body MRI scans. What does that mean? In part, patients with the Evia single- or dual-chamber CRT pacer can now undergo all required MRI scans (including for the liver and heart). Additionally, patients with the Lumax 7, the Ilesto and Iforia ICDs/CRT-Ds, plus Evia HF-T patients, can have more than 88% of the MRI scans they need, the company said.

Biotronik's MRI-safe expansion follows the company's CE mark for its full-body scan ProMRI technology with backward compatibility. Execs planned to discuss the details at the European Society of Cardiology 2013 conference in Amsterdam, which runs from Aug. 31-Sept. 4.

Biotronik has been operating in the MRI-safe implant space for a few years now. For example, Evia pacemakers (and related Safio leads) have been deemed safe in Europe for MRI scans under specific conditions since their 2010 launch. But in a market where cardiac implant sales struggle, MRI-safe iterations are a way to stand out, even in the face of enhanced competition. And the more MRI options the better, which Biotronik is looking at closely as it attempts to outpace its rivals.

Both St. Jude ($STJ) and Medtronic ($MDT) launched MRI-safe pacers in Japan in recent months. And Boston Scientific ($BSX) won a CE mark last year for MRI-friendly iterations of its Ingenio and Advantio pacers. Earlier this year, Medtronic won the FDA's approval for its second MRI-friendly pacer in the U.S., the second device of its kind to win approval here--the Advisa DR MRI SureScan.

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