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St. Jude Medical enrolls first patient in cardiac stent imaging guidance trial

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The Ilumien imaging system--courtesy of St. Jude Medical

St. Jude Medical ($STJ) signed up its first patient enrollment in a massive, international clinical trial that will test the use of its Ilumien imaging system to guide stent implantation in patients with coronary artery disease.

The clinical study, dubbed ILUMIEN I, will test the Ilumien system in 500 patients undergoing a coronary angioplasty, or percutaneous coronary intervention. Research will be conducted globally, at 40 different medical centers, with data collected before and after stent procedures, and also through 12 months of follow-up.

Ilumien includes the PressureWire Aeris, a tool that measures fractional flow reserve to gauge the seriousness of coronary artery blockages, and also the company's Medical Dragonfly catheter--an intravascular imaging catheter that helps doctors visualize blood vessel details more than standard imaging equipment.

For St. Jude, the idea to test the mettle of its imaging technology to boost stent placement is a smart one. In a crowded stent marketplace, anything that gives the company an edge with stent sales, or stent surgical tools, will make all the difference, including state-of-the-art imaging.

Other potential customers are considering alternative solutions, however. Keloland.com reports, for example, about a Sioux Falls, SD, hospital set to become the fifth health system in the country to use robots as a guide to stent placement. That's robots, folks. The region's Sanford Health system will use technology developed by Corindus Vascular Robotics, a Natick, MA, upstart company that shows significant promise.

As far as the Ilumien imaging system goes, St. Jude is trying to broaden use of the technology in other ways. Earlier this year, the company inked a deal with Abbott ($ABT) to enable them to jointly promote each other's stents, defibrillators, imaging and diagnostic technology. What that means, in part, is Abbott will handle U.S. distribution of the device, among other St. Jude products.

- read the release
- check out the robot story

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