IOP Institute of Physics

For physics • For physicists • For all

Active Needle Technology

For the development of high-visibility needles that improve image-guided medical procedures.

Accurate needle placement is essential for interventional medical procedures: failure to do so can result in harm to patients, repeat procedures, delays in patient treatments and increased costs. Currently, approximately 30% of core needle biopsies have to be repeated. One of the key reasons for this is inaccurate needle placement: meaning that biopsy specimens are not taken from the intended region (due to lack of visibility and needle bending during insertion).

Active Needle Technology applied a simple principle of physics to innovatively improve the visibility of the needles used in biopsies – and reduce the level of skill required to conduct the procedure. A high-frequency oscillation is applied to the needles, resulting in them vibrating backwards and forwards by microscopic distances. The oscillations show up brightly when imaged in Doppler ultrasound mode (a mode that exists on ultrasound imagingsystems and which detects movement). The coloured Doppler image very clearly shows the position of the inserted needle. Optimisation of the way in which the oscillation is applied, reduces needle bending. Consequently, this simple innovation addresses the principal causes of needles missing tumours in patients.

By improving the visibility of the needles and reducing their deflection, there are measurable improvements to clinical results: reduced procedure time and cost, a reduced number of repeat procedures – thereby freeing valuable resources – reduced delays to patient treatment and, finally, reduced patient anxiety and improved well-being.

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