Needle Vision is a spinout company from the National Institute of Health’s Ultrasonic Transducer Technology Resource Center (UTRRC) based at the University of Southern California.  UTTRC is a global leader in the development of high frequency ultrasound arrays and high frequency transducer imaging capabilities. With the support of an NIH Phase I Grant and the UTTRC, Needle Vision has demonstrated a prototype imaging endoscope. Its novel and patented forward-imaging beam steering system involves a single-element 20 MHz angled-face acoustic transducer combined with an internal rotating variable-angle reflecting surface. 

With a fixed transducer position, rotation of the VARS structure within an inert aqueous medium or living tissue generates a 2-D angular sector scan of the area directly in front of the instrument.  A 3-D image is achieved if the VARS revolutions are accompanied by successive rotations of the transducer.

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Imaging of interior of cow eye.

Needle Vision’s 2-D imaging system has been successfully tested in water bath experiments with phantom wire structures at a depth of 10 mm, and exhibited excellent axial and lateral resolution. High resolution images of an ex vivo cow eye were also obtained utilizing this prototype. Needle Vision’s patented VARS-based approach offers a unique forward-looking beam-steering method, which will reduce complications and resultant malpractice insurance premiums in a variety of diagnostic, pain management, and surgical procedures requiring hypodermic needle injection.

Benefit to Humanity

Needle Vision’s VARS needle technology will reduce patient complications in procedures requiring critical and precise needle placement.  The opportunities are significant as there is a large untapped market that is unaware that an imaging needle approach could solve their clinical guidance problems. 

Traditional Ultrasound Limitations

In the traditional usage of Ultrasound, a wand style probe attachment is placed against the outside of the body to visualize the interior. This technique has been used for decades in obstetrics and other such fields of medicine. The depth that the Ultrasound signal can limit visualization of critical structures. It is also limited by hard structures such as bone that the Ultrasound cannot see through. These limitations prevent Ultrasound from being effective deep inside the body and especially when close to the spine or other critical structures.

A New Tool For A New Era

For the clinician accustomed to using the wand style attachment for Ultrasound, Needle Vision will provide a new tool to connect to the Ultrasound machine. The VARS needle will allow the clinician to have an invasive method to see further into the body. The Ultrasound needle will be capable of reaching the most difficult reaches of the body to visualize critical structures and if needed to deliver treatment to the affected area. Such a tool could be important for epidural placement, draining wounds near implants and many other procedures.

Why VARS? ‘Variable Angle Reflecting Surface’ Advantages

Needle Vision’s technology has a number of benefits and advantages for clinicians and patients. Currently there are no forward looking needle devices on the market.

·      Patient protection: ultrasonic imaging is inherently safer for the patient and less expensive than the use of higher energy X Ray, MRI, mm wave, or radioactive imaging dyes, etc.

·      Greater imaging range: the technology’s internal use of a single (as opposed to an array) of transducers enables higher power applications permitting high resolution 2D and 3D  forward imaging at a distance of up to 1 cm from the needle tip.

·      Ultrasound surgery:  The use of a single transducer design supports Needle Vision’s product roadmap to integrate VARS diagnostic imaging with a high frequency ultrasound (HIFU) surgical instruments.