Every year, more than 250 million people undergo needle-based procedures, such as biopsies. Unfortunately, 1 in 10 sustain nerve damage while 2 in 10 are re-called for a repeat procedure as a direct result of needle misplacement due to poor visibility and deflection of needle tip. This not only increase patient anxiety, but impose a significant burden on the healthcare system. It is estimated that damages cost healthcare providers over $1 billion annually, and developing new technologies that increase visibility can significantly reduce procedure time and complications.
The UK-based startup Active Needle Technology is determined to help doctors perform needle-based procedures with greater accuracy and reliability, and aim to become the gold standard in ultrasound-guided needle interventional procedures. They are developing a handheld device with the aim of providing users with real-time imagery of the procedure. The device induce ultra-frequency pulsation or micro-vibration to standard medical needles, making the needle highly visible in color on standard Doppler ultrasound. The vibration further reduces insertion force, which in turn reduces needle tip deflection.
Poor visibility under ultrasound guidance and deflection of the needle tip are major concerns for clinicians, increasing procedure time and numerous post-operative complications, such as nerve damage and internal bleeding, as well as patient discomfort. Active Needle Technology has developed an innovative medical device that allow clinicians to see a standard medical needle in color during ultrasound-guided needle procedures. The technology represents a significant improvement over currently available technologies and could revolutionize the healthcare system, benefiting patients, clinicians and healthcare providers. It could significantly reduce inaccuracies, the risk of repeat biopsy and time taken on the procedure, saving millions annually in costs, while increasing hospital capacity and reducing patient anxiety and discomfort.
The startup has conducted an independent market survey, involving experts from the EU and USA, to validate the problems and identify the market need for their proposition. They found that only 10% of the participating clinicians could confidently visualize the needle, and all the clinicians showed interest in using the technology either themselves or for colleagues in their practice. This highlight the huge clinical impact of the technology, increasing confidence and providing safer and more efficient procedures.
Active Needle Technology was founded by Ian Quirk and Muhammad Sadiq, and the technology is the outcome of research carried out by Sadiq and Graeme McLeod. The startup was an entrant of MassChallenge 2016, and has previously been part of OneStart Europe. Through a crowdfunding campaign on SyndicateRoom in March 2017, they successfully secured over £350,000, overfunding its £250,000 target, with the lead investor being Oxford Technology Management. The startup plans to use the funds raised to progress the device to pre-production standard, testing and into regulatory approval.