One of the standard treatment tools used in modern medicine is to insert substances directly into the blood stream of a patient by inserting a tube into a vein. Such intravenous treatments require that a needle be used to pierce the skin and the wall of the vein, and therein lies the rub. It can be difficult to locate a vein if a patient has small blood vessels, heavily pigmented skin, or is obese. Even if a vein is successfully located, the needle can pass through the far wall of the vein as well, resulting in the injected fluids ending up in the surrounding tissue and not the blood as intended.
A company called Evena Medical has come up with a wearable solution to these problems. They have developed Evena Eyes-On Glasses that give medical personnel the ability to see through a patient’s skin to find the veins, while still seeing the patient and surroundings. Built using Epson’s Moverio smart glasses technology, this device includes LED light sources and a pair of digital cameras that provide separate, real-time imaging to each eye. The result is a stereoscopic 3D image of the veins in the patient’s arm. The wavelengths of light used are carefully chosen to help “see” through skin, even if it is heavily pigmented. The system also is designed to ignore arteries (that deliver blood to the body) and only see the veins (which return blood to the heart and lungs). The image at the top of this post shows what a patient’s arm looks like through these glasses. (You can watch a YouTube video here.)
This real-time monitoring of the needle insertion can reduce the number of failed attempts, avoid unnecessary patient discomfort, and help verify that the IV is inserted and operating correctly. The glasses are fully self-contained, and can record still images and motion video to document procedures. Furthermore, they have Bluetooth, WiFi, and 3G connectivity, so that data can be transmitted to other devices. Accessories are available, including an ultrasound device that can look through layers of fat to locate veins that are too deep to see. According to an Evena spokesperson, this device could save a typical hospital millions of dollars a year in increased efficiency, reduced supply costs, and fewer IV-related complications.