Intelligent Ultrasound Group (IUG) has launched an updated version of its NeedleTrainer, making ultrasound-guided needle training even more accessible to medical professionals, through a high performance, pocket-sized wireless ultrasound machine – GE Healthcare’s Vscan Air.

NeedleTrainer is a real-time simulation tool, which has been designed to develop the needle-probe co-ordination skills required for safe ultrasound guided interventional procedures.

The first of its kind, says IUG, NeedleTrainer uses a retractable needle, with the ability to add virtual image overlays to simulate needling non-invasively on a live participant, using a live ultrasound scan. This enables trainees to develop hand-eye coordination, optimum positioning, and accuracy in ultrasound-guided interventional procedures in a simulated clinical environment without delaying patient care or risking patient safety.

Ten months since the original version launched in the marketplace, and the platform is already being embraced by regional anesthesia medical education schools including Health Education and Improvement Wales and University College London Hospital to expand training opportunities and drive curriculum changes.

In line with IUG’s vision to ‘unlock ultrasound for everyone’, the latest version of NeedleTrainer makes ultrasound-guided needling even more accessible to medical professionals. Previously only available to users with an existing compatible ultrasound system, IUG has now expanded this offering. The latest generation of NeedleTrainer incorporates a GE Vscan Air; a wireless, handheld ultrasound probe that makes the system portable, removes the need to re-purpose a console-based ultrasound machine for training, while making the platform available to more institutions.

NeedleTrainer is available in two offerings: as a needle training simulator, applicable to any speciality that performs ultrasound guided needling. For regional anaesthesia there is also NeedleTrainer Plus, which includes the needle training simulator, with a built in trainer for peripheral nerve blocks (PNB) that include artificial intelligence (AI)-powered overlay of body structures option for the 10 most common blocks when training on regional anaesthesia.

Once a practitioner is competent, they can then use the standalone ScanNav Anatomy PNB device in the clinic for real-time AI assistance of ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia.

Dr Dennis Cochlin, MB BCh FRCR, Consultant in General Ultrasound at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff commented: “This is a great example of how invasive procedures can be taught in a safe environment. This is particularly important for the increasing number of practitioners who use ultrasound to guide procedures, but where ultrasound is not their main specialty. However, anyone who practices ultrasound guided needling, however experienced, will welcome this.”