Medical device maker St. Jude Medical (NYSE:STJ) is launching its next-generation coronary vessel imaging technology, the FFR and OCT Ilumien Optis system, in its first market -- Japan.

The Ilumien Optis will help physicians better decide where to place stents in patients according to anatomy and the state of cardiac disease, St. Jude explained in a press release Monday.

The Ilumien Optis offers an upgrade on St. Jude's earlier Ilumien imaging system and comes with a new, state-of-the-art software tool. According to the company, Japanese physicians perform around 245,000 percutaneous coronary interventions per year -- around 80% of which use imaging technology, a market that St. Jude hopes to tap into.

Wakayama Medical University's Dr. Takashi Akasaka was quoted in the company press release as saying, "The Ilumien Optis system enables a higher image resolution, and thus makes it possible for us to analyze difficult anatomical structures, allowing me to focus on diagnostic and treatment strategies. Also, this new analytical tool will be helpful for sizing and placing the stent."

The move is St. Jude's latest attempt to diversify away from the lagging cardiac rhythm management market, especially considering the company's history of trouble over its debrillator leads, such as the recalled Riata.

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