Challenge In the Netherlands alone, every year 57,000 people are treated for coronary revascularization. Of these, 20% are open heart surgeries and 80% catheter-based stenting. Of the latter category, 12% of the patients get a re-catheterisation within one year after the initial procedure. This is partially because the composition of the plaque cannot be sufficiently analysed. Not only are these re-catheterisations a big burden on the patient, but also their economic and societal costs are high.
IntraVascular PhotoAcoustic imaging technology combines ultrasound and optical imaging, which has many advantages over other diagnostics for coronary artery diseases. However, thus far nobody has succeeded in developing a viable product to meet this demand for less re-catheterisations.
Opportunity Not only are worldwide savings in direct costs projected at $1.2B per year, also big parties like Philips, Boston Scientific, Covidien, etc. have been attempting to develop a successful IVPA catheter for years. This not only means that there is huge demand for the product, it also opens up a wide array of companies to transfer the technology to. Furthermore, reimbursement is already accounted for as it is also an IVUS catheter.
Solution IVPA works by emitting a short burst of light which is absorbed by tissue and causes a scattering of acoustic waves that are ultrasonically detected. This technique allows for identifying plagues, seeing what kind, and localizing them. This invention will use photoacoustic imaging intravascularly by combining it with a catheter. IVPA is a technique that can be used for diagnosis, therapy planning such as better or preemptive placement of stents, and therapy guidance of obstructing plaque. Furthermore, other applications will be possible at a later stage (e.g. Carotid artery).
Status There is currently a scientifically validated Proof of Principle, which will have to be further developed into a suitable (clinical) prototype. The main additional unit is the laser that is needed for useful image contrast and the outer sheath of the catheter. The technology, which aims to cover the entire spectrum and provide superb sensitivity, has a patent pending.
Financing requirement The financing needed to cover the first years (e.g. for further product development and CE) will be composed from (informal) investors and matching (European) subsidies.