MedaPhor Group, an intelligent ultrasound software and simulation company, initiated the first phase of development of NeedleGuide, its new augmented reality imaging device – after receiving the £466,000 Innovate award funding. The grant was awarded as part of Innovate UK’s Digital Health Technology Catalyst competition and will partly fund the development of MedaPhor’s NeedleGuide, which the company believes has the potential to revolutionize interventional ultrasound-guided needling.

Doctors use interventional needling in a variety of medical procedures including tissue biopsy, cannula insertion and administering regional anesthesia, in a procedure known as peripheral nerve block (PNB). For many of these procedures, including PNB, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that ultrasound guidance should always be used.

NeedleGuide aims to combine existing technology developed by MedaPhor, with expertise from Intelligent Ultrasound Ltd., which MedaPhor acquired in the fall of 2017. The augmented reality headset projects the ultrasound view over the patient’s anatomy, highlighting the pathway the needle needs to follow to the target, and then uses artificial intelligence to automatically track the needle tip to ensure the operator is always aware of the needle’s position in relation to key anatomical structures. This minimizes the potential for user error and offers considerable cost savings to the hospital.

“NeedleGuide has enormous potential to improve patient outcomes, reducing the time and cost of these difficult procedures,” according to Nicholas Sleep, Chief Technology Officer of MedaPhor. He says the company believes this technology could reduce the cost of needling to all hospitals and have significant export potential as a new digital health technology.