There are many procedures where ultrasound (US) is combined with invasive tools such as needles. For example, in nerve blocks which are an important tool for pain relief and often used for total loss of feeling during surgery. In this case US is used in the majority of these procedures to image the anatomy and guide the needle towards the target. Since the needle and the target are both small and thus challenging to pinpoint, the outcome of the procedure is very dependent on the skill of the physician.
Needle tip identification is viewed as the most important aspect of accurate and effective US guided nerve blocks. Currently, available technologies provide insufficient accuracy to aid the medical professional and are typically dependent on specific ultrasound devices. This limits their use and adoption into the clinical workflow.
Avanos has developed Beacon, an active needle tip identification technology that addresses the shortcomings of current technologies. It features sub millimeter needle tip localization and full compatibility with all US devices in use. A transducer located on the needle tip, receives the incoming US signal, distinguishes it from background using a specialized algorithm and amplifies the return signal in real time. This results in the tip lighting up like a beacon in the US image. The Beacon technology has the potential to increase efficiency and effectiveness of procedures while providing greater consistency, confidence and cost savings with nerve blocks and other US guided needle based interventions.
The current prototype has demonstrated its effectiveness in a relevant environment. The next steps are in human trials and the subsequent clinical validation and certification of the device. In parallel, the use of this technology for other US guided needle based applications can further be explored.
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