Health Tech News This Week – February 19, 2022

What happened in health care technology this week – and why it’s important.

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AI algorithm aids in classifying hip fractures on radiographs

Eric Ridley at Aunt Minnie reports on research published online February 8 in Scientific Reports showing that hip fractures can be detected and classified by an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm on radiographs with a high level of accuracy, even outperforming expert clinicians. A team of researchers from the U.K. led by E.A. Murphy of the University of Bath developed deep-learning algorithms to locate the hip joints on radiographs and then, if there’s a fracture, classify the fracture type. In retrospective testing, their method was nearly 20% more accurate than the original clinical interpretations.

Why it’s important – Although the classification of hip fracture strongly determines surgical treatment and patient outcomes, there is currently no standardized process in the U.K. as to who — an orthopedic surgeon or a radiologist specializing in musculoskeletal disorders — determines this classification, according to the researchers. Speed of diagnosis is also essential.

Infographics of the week – Application of 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry. And, The Digital Transformation Imperative Survey results from the Harvard Business School.

Image Credit: FabRx
Image Credit: Harvard Business School, Leadership in the Digital Era Survey

FDA OKs 180-Day Implantable Continuous Glucose Monitor

The FDA approved the long-term implantable continuous glucose monitor (CGM) for use for up to 6 months. As reported by Kristen Monaco, Staff Writer at MedPage Today, the Eversense E3 System is indicated for adults ages 18 and older with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Implanted subcutaneously into the upper arm under local anesthesia, the system replaces finger stick blood glucose measures. The only time fingersticks are still required with this system is for calibration, when symptoms don’t match the CGM readings, or if the user is taking a tetracycline-class medication.

Why it’s important – This is another step forward for patients who desire to manage their diabetes with all the advantages of the Eversense CGM with the fully implantable sensor. During this study, 90% of the SBA sensors lasted the entire 180-day wear; 96% of SBA sensors survived to day 90 and day 120, and 94% survived to day 150. Senseonics said the Eversense E3 CGM System is expected to be available to U.S. patients beginning in the second quarter of this year.

Phone Vibration Tool Detects How Well Blood Will Clot

A new test can determine how well blood will clot using only a single drop of blood and a smartphone vibration motor and camera. The University of Washington reported on this research in an article on The new system includes a plastic attachment that holds a tiny cup beneath the phone’s camera. A person adds a drop of blood to the cup, which contains a small copper particle and a chemical that starts the blood-clotting process. Then the phone’s vibration motor shakes the cup while the camera monitors the particle’s movement, which slows down and then stops moving as the clot forms.

Why it’s important – Patients who can monitor their PT/INR levels from home would only need to see a clinician if the test suggested they were outside of that desirable range. This device is still in a proof-of-concept stage. The researchers have publicly released the code and are exploring commercialization opportunities and further testing. Researchers say this is the best of all worlds—it’s the holy grail of PT/INR testing. It makes it frugal and accessible to millions, even where resources are minimal.

This Bizarre Looking Helmet Can Create Better Brain Scans

Jessica Colarossi of The Brink reported on this project from Boston University on a newly designed wearable magnetic metamaterial that could help make MRI scans crisper, faster, and cheaper. It was developed by Xin Zhang, a College of Engineering professor of mechanical engineering, and her team of scientists at BU’s Photonics Center. The helmet is fashioned from a series of magnetic metamaterial resonators, made from 3D-printed plastic tubes wrapped in copper wiring, grouped on an array, and precisely arranged to channel the magnetic field of the MRI machine.

Image Credit: Boston University Photonics Center

Why it’s important – Placing the magnetic metamaterial—in helmet form or as the designed initially flat array—near the part of the body to be scanned could make MRIs less costly and more time-efficient for doctors, radiologists, and patients—all while improving image quality. Eventually, the magnetic metamaterial has the potential to be used in conjunction with cheaper low-field MRI machines to make the technology more widely available, particularly in the developing world.

New virtual reality technology could help repair hearts

The Evening Standard’s Nina Massey posted an article on research from Evelina London and King’s College London. Researchers have developed some virtual reality (VR) technology that could improve outcomes for the thousands of patients who undergo surgery for heart defects present from birth. By using the VR technology, surgeons are immersed into the heart, allowing them to interact with and manipulate the images however they like. They can also test options for the procedure in VR before they get to the operating table.

Why it’s important – Trials of an early version of the technology, which only used ultrasound scans of the heart to create the VR heart, found that surgeons preferred it for understanding the anatomy of their patient’s hearts. Two more types of scans have been added to the system – computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – with the support of the British Heart Foundation (BHF). It is hoped that by giving surgeons a better understanding of this and offering them an opportunity to practice and perfect operations, this technology will also help to improve the experiences of thousands of patients and their families each year.

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