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Old School Medical Practice Gets Upgrade

Tuesday, June 14, 2016  
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While working on their doctorates in biomedical engineering at UVA, Will Mauldin and Kevin Owen, realized there needed to be an improvement in the needle placement for epidurals and spinal anesthesia. For years, anesthesiologist have relied solely on their sense of touch to identify the correct insertion point for this. Since every patient is not the same, often it would require multiple attempts for a successful insertion.

“Epidurals and spinals should be guided with medical imaging and shouldn’t be done blind,” said Will Mauldin.

To answer this problem, they founded Rivanna Medical and built, Accuro, the world’s first ultrasound-based system that is designed specifically to aid in the application of spinal anesthesia using automated detection of the epidural location and depth. The epidural space refers to the outermost part of the spinal canal.

“Accuro lets you find the midline on the spine and tells you how deep the anatomy is. With it, you can find a vertebra that looks better than another if you need to,” Owen said. “Some people have calcifications and other things like scoliosis that might make it hard to get the needle into a particular area.”

Accuro removes the uncertainty by providing digital overlays that identify what the user is seeing in the ultrasound image and offering a 3-D navigator that pinpoints the best place for insertion along the patient’s spine. It also includes a needle guide that will mark the skin with a bullseye or that can be used in real-time to place the needle while the device is in use, depending on the physician’s preference.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of their device, Mauldin and Owen have a box with thick layer of synthetic skin on the outside and five 3-D printed vertebrae on the inside. With it, they are able to show the high level of accuracy for Accuro.

Since it went on sale in November, hospitals in the United States have purchased Accuros and the international medical community is showing interest.

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