A Bangalore-based startup has developed India’s first vein detector, ‘Veinus’, a non-invasive device that could help doctors locate good veins for inserting venous cannula. Veinus is likely to cost about 80% less than the imported vein detectors. Better cannulation with the help of Veinus may mean less number of needle pricks for millions of patients worldwide.
Cannulation: Painful Route to Cure
In our circulatory system, veins (except the pulmonary vein) are blood vessels that carry deoxygenated blood from the tissues back to the heart. They are often closer to the skin and are hence visible to the naked eye.
For medical treatment, intravenous therapy (IV or ‘within vein’ therapy) is used to infuse liquid substances directly into a vein. IV fluids are administered through venous cannula, a tube that is inserted into a vein, primarily for obtaining blood samples or for administering medicines. The IV route is the fastest way to deliver fluids and medications throughout the body. However, finding a useful vein for cannulation could be a painful procedure for patients.
According to a report, even though venous cannulas are often needed for a week or more, they frequently fail before the end of treatment because of irritation of the vein–with symptoms including pain, swelling, redness, occlusion, and a palpable venous cord–and therefore necessitate cannula removal and replacement.
Replacement requires additional needle pricks for patients, increases work for clinical staff, and contributes to insertion of cannulas being the most common invasive medical procedure and therefore a substantial contributor to healthcare costs. Up to 70 percent of patients in acute care hospitals need a short peripheral intravenous catheter (also called cannula) and about 200 million are used each year in USA (www.thelancet.com Vol 380 September 22, 2012). The numbers are much higher in India with about 1.8 billion IV fluid sets used in 2012 (report).
Moreover, venous cannulation procedure can lead to complications, such as collection of blood between tissue, that can result from either the failure to select an appropriate vein or from the failure to puncture the vein correctly when the cannula is inserted or from a double puncture. Other complications could be vein turning thrombosed (blood clot) or a fragmented cannula that can lead to inflammation of the vein.
In a step to aid this most common invasive medical procedure, Bangalore-based Infraeyes Private Limited developed Veinus, a vein detecting device that uses infrared light to display map of good, thick, as well as thrombosed veins under the skin. The name, ‘Veinus’, is a combination of ‘vein’ and ‘nus’ which in Hindi means vein.
Founded in 2011 by Priyank Saxena, 38, along with Mayank Saxena, his brother, and Saurabh Gupta, Infraeyes now has a team of six engineers who have contributed in making Veinus. The device is set to be launched in the market next month (July 2014).
The idea of creating Veinus emerged when the three founders observed that venous cannulation is largely dependent on the practitioner’s experience and is thus prone to errors. “In India, majority of hospitals and doctors are still using traditional methods to identify a healthy vein for cannulation. We wanted to use technology to help improve this procedure,” says Priyank.
How it Works
“Veins carry deoxygenated blood from the tissues back to the heart. This de-oxygenated haemoglobin in blood has special spectral characteristics. It reacts differently to different frequencies of light and that is being captured by Veinus. For example, when exposed to infrared (IR) light, the de-oxygenated haemoglobin in the blood vessels looks black. When the device with IR light is focused on a target skin surface, the black lines on the display screen show the vein map under the skin clearly,” explains Priyank.
With constant feedback from doctors and trials at various hospitals in Bangalore and Mysore, the team has created the final prototype. Currently, a pilot is being conducted at St. John’s Hospital, Bangalore with the final prototype. During the three-weeks pilot at St. John’s, Priyank and his team member Varun Gupta have used Veinus for 80 cases of which 40 patients had slightly visible veins, making manual detection difficult.
The team has also helped with Veinus in case of six critical patients. “When we launched the pilot, it was challenging to encourage the staff to use Veinus to identify veins for cannulation. However, now they want the device 24×7 as it helps them deliver surer, better cannulation and boosts their confidence,” says Priyank, adding that now the team is concentrating on the product release. “The ready-for-release product will slightly be different in look and feel,” he adds.
The Infraeyes team hopes for Veinus’ success. The team has demonstrated the device to six leading hospitals in Bangalore to gain pre-orders for the device.
The Veinus weighs 300 grams, has a battery backup of 30 minutes (sufficient for 4-5 cannulation procedures), and uses safe infrared light which neither emits heat nor has any side effects. It comes with a tall flexible stand to help nurses and doctors pull and push the device for a completely hands-free operation.
The device can be operated in two modes: normal mode for vein detection and the ‘thick’ mode for locating difficult veins. It also presents two display options: black and white or green and black.
In next five years, the team plans to work on a product for artery detection and another one for skin cancer detection.
For more information on Veinus, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.