Alpha Source to Strengthen Medical Equipment Service Offerings

Alpha Source announced that it has expanded its portfolio of medical equipment service offerings through a recent investment in Medical Optics. Medical Optics, a global leader of endoscope and surgical instrument repair, will operate as a business unit of Alpha Source. Together, Alpha Source and Medical Optics will continue to enhance their portfolio of solutions for healthcare customers seeking to extend the life of their medical equipment; and the patients who depend on them.

“The Alpha Source acquisition of Medical Optics is part of an ongoing growth strategy to expand our comprehensive portfolio of medical equipment parts, field service and depot repair options,” said Rick Lytle, Chief Executive Officer of Alpha Source and Medical Optics. “Medical Optics has a proven approach, focusing on rapid and flexible customer responsiveness, and we are excited to partner with the talented Medical Optics management team.”

Founded by Frank Malvasio in 1997, Medical Optics has grown into a premier, international and ISO certified endoscope repair company with a strong reputation for high quality, efficient turn-around of endoscopes and surgical instruments. “Our customers will continue to work directly with their trusted Medical Optics sales and service contacts, experiencing the same superior levels of customer service they’ve come to expect,” said Malvasio. “In addition, through commercial and supply chain partnership with Alpha Source, our ability to respond to customer needs and market growth becomes stronger.”

“The Alpha Source team is pleased by the continued operational and investment support from our private equity sponsor Baird Capital,” said Lytle. “Given the rapidly changing healthcare marketplace, hospitals and other healthcare providers will benefit from our broadening portfolio of medical equipment service offerings.”

ITL to develop ground-breaking cancer imaging project

Innovative medical device contractor ITL Group has partnered with King’s College London (KCL) to develop a ground-breaking cancer imaging project.

The project, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 scheme, brings a consortium of 20 companies, including technology giants Phillips and Siemens, to exploit developments in engineering and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to develop Magnetic Resonance Force Imaging (MRFI) for new applications in cancer diagnostics.

The project aims to address a fundamental need in planning and monitoring of cancer treatment by allowing better identification and sizing of cancer tumours.

ITL Group joined the consortium in 2015 as a medical device design, development and manufacturing partner, becoming active in 2017 once earlier elements of the project had been completed.

Re-imagining MRI for new applications could provide a non-invasive way to diagnose and measure cancer tumours. This project will produce three prototypes developed for use on brain, liver and breast cancer patients.

Picture: ITL Group

ITL Group, with 40 years of industry experience, will further develop KCL’s initial hardware design, and manufacture several prototypes, which will be presented to Harvard Medical School this summer. The hardware is an advanced vibration transducer which functions by measuring interstitial fluid pressure and cell traction forces.

The global company, with operations in UK, US and China, has taken the original three vibration transducers through a rigorous development process to improve on the initial concept.

King’s provided ITL with an initial design and brief; to make the device smaller and more compact, more aesthetically pleasing, easier to handle and with improved performance and efficiency.

ITL has made significant headway in improving the technology that can guide treatment choices in breast, liver and brain cancer patients, with prototypes ready for trials in June 2017.

ITL Mechanical Engineer, Dan Hollands, is leading the project, taking dual roles as Project Manager and Head Engineer.

For the project, ITL has been trialling a state-of-the-art 3D printer to open up the possibilities of development and experimentation. As the transducer will be used in a MRI scanner it’s necessary that all components are plastic, therefore it lends itself to the 3D printing process.

Unlike commercial projects ITL has completed over the past 40 years, this grant gives ITL free reign to experiment and innovate. Essentially the design and development process can continue to the capacity of the grant – giving Dan Hollands time to push the design to its limits.

Over the year’s ITL has collaborated with a host of leading universities in the UK.

Source: ITL Group

Minimally invasive brain imaging

Picture: University of Utah

With just an inexpensive micro-thin surgical needle and laser light, University of Utah engineers have discovered a minimally invasive, inexpensive way to take high-resolution pictures of an animal brain, a process that also could lead to a much less invasive method for humans.

A team led by University of Utah electrical and computer engineering associate professor Rajesh Menon has now proven the process works on mice for the benefit of medical researchers studying neurological disorders such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and aggression. Menon and his team have been working with the U. of U.’s renowned Nobel-winning researcher, Distinguished Professor of Biology and Human Genetics Mario Capecchi, and Jason Shepherd, assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy.

The group has documented its process in a paper titled, “Deep-brain imaging via epifluorescence Computational Cannula Microscopy,” in the latest issue of Scientific Reports. The paper’s lead author is doctoral student Ganghun Kim.

The process, called “computational cannula microscopy,” involves taking a needle about a quarter-millimeter in diameter and inserting it into the brain. Laser light shines through the needle and into the brain, illuminating certain cells “like a flashlight,” Menon says. In the case of mice, researchers genetically modify the animals so that only the cells they want to see glow under this laser light.

The light from the glowing cells then is captured by the needle and recorded by a standard camera. The captured light is run through a sophisticated algorithm developed by Menon and his team, which assembles the scattered light waves into a 2D or potentially, even a 3D picture.

Typically, researchers must surgically take a sample of the animal’s brain to examine the cells under a microscope, or they use an endoscope that can be anywhere from 10 to 100 times thicker than a needle.

“That’s very damaging,” Menon says of previous methods of examining the brain. “What we have done is to take a surgical needle that’s really tiny and easily put it into the brain as deep as we want and see very clear high-resolution images. This technique is particularly useful for looking deep inside the brain where other techniques fail.”

Now that the process has been proven to work in animals, Menon believes it can potentially be developed for human patients, creating a simpler, less expensive and invasive method than endoscopes.

“Although its much more complex from a regulatory standpoint, it can be done in humans, and not just in the brain, but for other organs as well,” he says. “But our motivation for this project right now is to look inside the brain of the mouse and further develop the technique to understand fundamental neuroscience in the mouse brain.”

Source: University of Utah

FDA approves Philips non-invasive elastography for liver assessment

Royal Philips announced 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market its ElastQ Imaging capability, further expanding the functionalities of its EPIQ family of ultrasound systems. ElastQ Imaging enables simultaneous imaging of tissue and assessment of its stiffness, which is essential for the diagnosis of various liver conditions. With ElastQ Imaging, clinicians have a comprehensive solution to assess and diagnose liver conditions without the pain or expense of a liver biopsy.  Using shear wave elastography to focus sound waves to assess soft tissue stiffness, ElastQ Imaging is non-invasive, reproducible and easily executed. Philips is at the forefront of imaging technology innovation, and with this new capability, is addressing a significant need of medical professionals in the clinical setting.

Liver disease, which includes hepatitis B and C, liver cancer and cirrhosis, is a growing global health issue due in part to rising obesity rates and an aging population. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease affects approximately 20% of the global population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), total deaths worldwide from cirrhosis and liver cancer rose by 50 million per year over the last two decades, and many cases continue to go undetected.

To determine the stage of liver disease and damage, a liver biopsy is typically performed by extracting a small piece of liver tissue for microscopic examination. Research suggests that instead of costly and painful biopsy procedures, ultrasound exams using shear wave elastography could become routine for assessing liver disease status and may reduce or avoid the need for conventional liver biopsies.

“Philips aims to provide the tools necessary for assessing and managing chronic conditions that so many people face, and liver disease is no exception,” said Vitor Rocha, Ultrasound Business Leader at Philips. “We know that liver disease is a growing health concern around the globe, and we are committed to pioneering innovations like ElastQ Imaging to create our ultimate ultrasound liver solution that offers exceptional clinical performance, further improving patient care.”

Source: Royal Philips

Clarius handheld wireless ultrasound scanner CE approved

Clarius announced that it has CE Mark approval for the commercial sale of the C3 and L7 Clarius Wireless Ultrasound Scanners for use by medical professionals.

“Clarius has amazing image quality for such a small device,” said Dr. Gert-Jan Mauritz, an emergency medicine resident and ultrasound instructor based in the Netherlands.  “It’s better than a traditional ultrasound machine because I carry it everywhere in my pocket and it’s so easy to use the Clarius App on my phone.”

Compact ultrasound systems for use at the bedside are the norm in most hospitals and many private clinics. But costs of high quality systems have been a barrier for more widespread adoption. A basic ultrasound scanner from Clarius will start at €6,600 in European Union countries.

Clarius Scanners are powered by a rechargeable battery, which is easily exchanged when running low. Built with a magnesium case, Clarius Scanners are designed to withstand challenging environments and are water submersible for easy cleaning and disinfection.

FDA OKs Arterys Software for Cloud-Based Medical Image Visualization and Quantification

Arterys announced that it has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its Arterys Software. This clearance allows the Arterys product to be used in clinical settings for the quantification of cardiac flow, which includes 4D flow and 2D Phase Contrast workflows, and cardiac function measurements. The product seamlessly integrates into clinical practice to provide comprehensive, simple and quick Cardiac MR imaging. Previously, the Arterys Software received FDA clearance for its 4D Flow visualization feature.

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