Intact's BLES to get higher reimbursement

Intact Medical (Natick, Massachusetts), a developer of minimally invasive systems for the diagnosis of breast cancer, reported that the use of the Intact Breast Lesion Excision System (BLES) to biopsy high-risk breast lesions for histopathological analysis, or those lesions which are subsequently diagnosed as cancerous, can qualify for a higher level of reimbursement under Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Code 88307, a 78% increase over CPT 88305, routinely used for vacuum-assisted core needle procedures.

The company determined that for breast lesions where margin assessment is critical, the ability of the Intact BLES to extract entire, surgical-quality specimens is more accurately described by CPT code 88307: "Level V -Surgical pathology, gross and microscopic examination. Breast, Excision of Lesion, Requiring Microscopic Evaluation of Surgical Margins."

"This determination underscores the value of the Intact BLES compared to conventional vacuum- assisted core needle biopsy. By extracting a fully intact specimen, pathologists are able to gain a more complete understanding of the suspect breast lesion, and in many cases, avoid the need for additional surgical procedures to confirm a diagnosis," said Christopher Bleck, president and CEO of Intact Medical. "In addition to a superior outcome, there is now a financial advantage to using the Intact BLES on patients with high-risk breast lesions, the very patient population that will derive greatest clinical benefit."

COPD patients need spirometry testing

At least two-thirds of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) do not receive lung function testing that is recommended for the accurate diagnosis and effective management of the disease, suggesting that the majority of patients are diagnosed with COPD based on symptoms alone.

New research published in the June issue of Chest, the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP; Northbrook, Illinois), finds that only one-third of patients recently diagnosed with COPD underwent spirometry, a noninvasive lung function test, to confirm COPD or to manage their condition. Current national guidelines recommend spirometry for the diagnosis and management of COPD.

"Spirometry testing is necessary for the diagnosis and staging of COPD, yet the majority of patients with COPD are being diagnosed based on symptoms and smoking history," said Todd Lee, PharmD, PhD, of Hines VA Hospital (Hines, Illinois) and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (Chicago). "While these patients may indeed have COPD, spirometry is needed to make a definite diagnosis. As a result, patients who do not have COPD may be receiving unnecessary chronic therapy."

Snoring may affect emotional health

In a recent survey of 5,600 snoring patients, many suffered from depression, anxiety and reported having family issues directly related to their snoring.

"We know that patients who suffer from severe snoring and sleep apnea have an increased level of morbidity and mortality," according to Dr. Mansoor Madani, chairman of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the Capital Health System (Trenton, New Jersey) and associate professor of oral surgery at Temple University (Philadelphia).

"We focused our study on the impact of snoring and sleep apnea in three levels of the patient's daily life: personal, institutional and socioeconomic," he said.

The study revealed that these personal issues affected their job performance as well. More than 48% had trouble concentrating at work and got tired easily. It was also noted that these patients in the study had continued difficulties in problem-solving and performing complex tasks.

"Our concern was the impact it had on their driving habits. Eighteen percent of patients reported they dozed while driving at least once over the last few years and 7% were involved in accidents causing injuries to themselves and others," Madani said. He has been treating patients with snoring and sleep apnea for the past 12 years and is one of pioneering surgeons in laser surgery.

Out of an estimated 25 million patients who suffer from sleep apnea, only 5% have actually been diagnosed with sleep apnea. "Snoring is one of the main indicators of sleep apnea and unfortunately is largely being ignored," he said.

"It costs the U.S. economy over $88.4 billion each year in poor performance, accident claims and healthcare costs," Madani added.

Merge Technologies must complete filings

Merge Technologies (doing business as Merge Healthcare; Milwaukee) reported that the company received a written notification from the Nasdaq Listing Qualifications Panel stating that the panel determined to continue the listing of the company's common stock on the Nasdaq National Market subject to the company's filing its annual report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2005, all required restatements and its Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2006, by no later than July 7.

The company said it continues to work diligently to complete these filings as soon as possible.

Merge Healthcare is developing medical imaging and information management software and services.