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March 3, 2010 -- 3:50pm PST

Functional Measurement Functioning Well at Volcano
fractional flow reserveTo stent or not to stent? The question is more than a rhetorical one when a patient is on the cath lab table and a coronary blockage is seen on the angiogram. Luckily, there are methods available to help give a more scientific answer to this question. Equipment for two of these techniques, Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS) and Fractional Flow Reserve (FFR -- a.k.a. "functional measurement") is manufactured by Volcano Corporation (Nasdaq: VOLC) a San Diego-based device company that announced its fourth quarter results earlier today.

And if the company's results are any indication, both technologies are increasingly finding a place in the interventional cardiologist's armamentarium. Volcano's sales of IVUS catheters were up 29%, but their FFR product was up a whopping 92% over the previous fourth quarter.

One reason might be the increasing evidence that FFR or Functional Measurement (FM) is a valid decision-making technology. A major driver for heart docs to look at FFR was last January's FAME study, which showed better outcomes (and fewer stents placed) when FFR was used to guide treatment and ensure that stenting was a benefit for the patient. The strength of IVUS is more in the area of performing the stenting procedure optimally. I wrote about the differences between these technologies a few weeks ago (IVUS vs. FFR -- Boston Style) but these sales figures translate to increased adoption of technologies to make angioplasty, stenting and PCI procedures safer for the patient with better outcomes for the procedure.

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