Mr. Ultrasound in the Nordic countries av Gunnar Arveheim
In 1953 Dr. Inge Edler and Professor Hellmuth Hertz performed the first clinical ultrasound examination in the world at the University Hospital in Lund, Sweden after having borrowed an ultrasound reflectoscope over the weekend from Kockum´s shipyard in Malmö. I visited Dr. Edler a few times in the late 60´s and early 70´s as sales engineer of medical equipment at Roche and Kontron and got convinced of the clinical value of the emerging diagnostic ultrasound technologies.
In my first company Wabloprodukter AB in 1977, my business idea was to focus on the still tiny diagnostic ultrasound market. I managed to become a distributor for several US and Canadian ultrasound companies but the market was still very small, mainly fetal and peripheral vascular Doppler units. The turning point came when Wablo got the first ATL Mark V Duplex Scanner order outside the USA. It was to be installed in Gothenburg, Sweden in April 1978. That opened up the Nordic echocardiography market; six system orders in Sweden, one each in Norway, Finland and Denmark were received already in 1978.
The next major step came during the first Radiology Ultrasound Course in Sweden arranged by Dr. Göran Karner in Motala. I had found that the ATL dynamic image quality was superior to the existing state of the art Compound Static B-scanner but everybody, including ATL in Seattle, told me to forget that. In Motala we could prove that and a quick expansion also into the Nordic General Imaging market followed in my third company Medata Nordic AB.
In 1986 I agreed to found Acuson´s Swedish subsidiary Acuson AB, if I sold my shares in Amedic and Medata Nordic. The first Acuson installation outside the USA was done in 1984 at Akademiska University Hospital in Uppsala in the Radiology Department (Professor PG Lindgren).
We managed to borrow this system before its installation at Akademiska to exhibit it at the congress Medicin 1984 in the beginning of December. That resulted in the largest Acuson order globally so far, one dozen Acuson systems in June 1986.
Dr. Ingemar Wallentin at the Sahlgrenska University hospital in Gothenburg was extremely impressed by the high resolution greyscale 2D imaging he saw during Medicin 1984 and made an agreement with Dr. Lindgren to visit Akademiska one day before Christmas 1984 with patients in order to examine them with the Acuson system. I had tried to explain to Dr. Wallentin that the system at that point in time had no cardiology functions. But he insisted that he needed the 2-3 times higher resolution. When he got the budgetary approval to invest in an Acuson in the spring 1986 we were able to quote an Acuson with cardiac option for delivery in September 1986 as one of the twelve Acuson systems sold in June 1986. This was the first Acuson Cardiac system sold worldwide.
The next giant leap in ultrasound technology came with the introduction of the Acuson Sequoia system in 1996. In May 1996 Acuson AB received the first Sequoia order outside the USA from Professor PG Lindgren in Uppsala. We received 23 Sequoia system orders in the Nordic region already during the first year 1996 at prices two times higher than the existing premium ultrasound system price level.
Acuson Corporation had grown to become the ultrasound market leader globally with 476 million US$ in revenue 1999, when Siemens acquired Acuson for US$ 700 million and merged Acuson with Siemens´ ultrasound business. Siemens including Acuson had a global ultrasound market share of 22% in year 2000. In Sweden, Acuson had a 50% order volume share and Siemens 12 % in year 2000 according to KPMG engaged by Siemens during the merger.
The global diagnostic ultrasound market 2014 has grown to US$ 6400 million; second only to X-ray equipment but larger than both the global MRI and CT markets.