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From larger wheelchairs, blood p ...

Posted Nov 10 2008 4:22pm

From larger wheelchairs, blood pressure machines with larger cuffs...etc..."The market is growing for anything extra-large - wheelchairs, MRI machines, scales, even toilets."...BD

Before Medtronic started U.S. sales of an emergency medical device that automatically delivers chest compressions, the product was tailored with American patients in mind. The Fridley-based manufacturer made it bigger.

The initial version of the Lucas Chest Compression System, sold in Europe, accommodated patients with a sternum height of about 7 to 11 inches. But when Medtronic launched it here in April, the product was sized for patients with sternums measuring about 8 to 12 inches, said Anne Devine, a company spokeswoman.

Zoom motorized stretchers, from Michigan-based Stryker Corp., eliminate the pushing effort, making it ideal for use with heavier patients. The largest model has a weight capacity of 660 pounds. The stretchers are among many medical products suited for use with a growing number of obese patients in the U.S. (Courtesy of Stryker Corp.)

"We wanted to find something that could accommodate the larger patient, the claustrophobic patient and give us the quality and the speed," said Dr. Aaron Binstock, the oncology imaging director of Suburban Imaging in Coon Rapids. This year, his center purchased an MRI machine with a bore opening about 4 inches bigger than other MRIs.

The seat on a standard Invacare wheelchair is 18 inches wide. That compares with the 30-inch seat on the company's Topaz wheelchair, designed for patients who weigh up to 700 pounds.

The bigger seat carries a bigger price tag. The Topaz model starts at $1,842, about five times the approximately $370 list price of the standard version. 

"The obese patient is not well served by open technology," Sheehan said, adding that obesity trends made it a "no-brainer" for Siemens to introduce a machine with a larger bore. - Better get bigger

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