When patients with leaky heart valves undergo percutaneous heart valve procedures, an ultrasound probe is positioned in the esophagus to acquire images of the heart. In conjunction with the breathing-related movement of the chest and the beating movement of the heart, the esophageal muscles contract around the ultrasound probe. This displaces the probe and makes it difficult to obtain the necessary images – or produces poor-quality images.
The Inspiration Behind the Innovation
When the ultrasound probe becomes repeatedly displaced due to muscular activity during a percutaneous heart valve procedure, the cardiologist must stop the procedure and assume a poor ergonomic position in order to reposition the probe. This means that the cardiologist must use one hand to keep the probe in place while struggling to use the other hand to operate both the probe and computer. In addition to causing stress and poor ergonomics for the cardiologist, this results in prolonged exposure to anesthetics for the patient, and longer wait lists for surgeries.
EchoVice is designed to streamline the process of obtaining transesophageal images and improve the quality of the images obtained during percutaneous heart valve procedures. The device, which essentially acts as a 'third hand', stabilises the ultrasound probe used by the cardiologist during the procedure while allowing the probe to be rotated as needed to obtain the required images. EchoVice provides a better workflow and more ergonomic position, reduces the time it takes to complete the procedure, and produces better-quality images.
Kristian Bach Laursen: Medical Doctor; Research Unit of Cardiology, Department of Cardiology, Odense University Hospital
Jeppe Olesen: Engineer in Health Informatics and Technology; EchoVice
Ajithan Christian: Engineer in Health Informatics and Technology; EchoVice