The rapid growth in the use of EMRs and the increased use of digitally driven technology have resulted in the production of large amounts of highly valuable data, bringing the era of big data to healthcare.
But what exactly is big data? Essentially, big data is used to help describe large datasets—sizes currently...
Pioneering heart surgery of the 1960s and 70s produced revolutionary results, but at a cost to the patient in terms of extensive high-risk operations with the need for intensive care and long recovery times. In the past decade, transcatheter procedures have had a significant impact on the time needed for interventions as well as reducing hospital stays and associated costs, since patients are able to return home shortly after the procedure.
Commonly used as a means to implant stents, new technological advances mean a greater number of cardiovascular interventions can be performed in this minimally invasive manner.
Reparation and even replacement of heart valves has been a standard part of the cardiac surgeon’s repertoire for many years, but it is only recently that cath lab procedures have developed to include valve replacement. This means that these interventions are now becoming possible in high-risk and/or older patients who would have previously been excluded from this type of surgery.
Low Mortality for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)
Medtronic, a company known for its range of innovative medical solutions for interventional cardiology, recently announced the first-year results from its study on the CoreValve Evolut R System. This next-generation valve is recapturable and self-expanding; it is currently only commercially available in the U.S.
Intervention was carried out by the transfemoral route in all but one case, despite the fact that patients with smaller vessels (down to 5.0 mm) were included . Adverse events such as valve dysfunction, annular rupture, coronary occlusion, valve thrombosis, embolisation, or conversion to surgery were correspondingly low.
Mitral Valve Replacement in a 72-year-old Patient
Mitral regurgitation (MR) is one of the most common valve disorders; however, many of the most severely affected patients are not referred for surgery because of advanced age, comorbidities or severe left ventricular dysfunction. Transcatheter mitral valve implantation may present a better therapeutic option for these high-risk patients.
The Israeli company MValve Technologies recently announced that their catheter based transapical mitral valve replacement system had been used to successfully implant a replacement mitral valve in a 72-year-old male with longstanding history of valve disease. The procedure was carried out at the University Clinic Bonn in Germany, although the patient’s general cardiac status and unfavorable mitral valve anatomy had previously ruled out surgery.
The MValve docking device provides a secure platform within the mitral annulus for implanting transcatheter heart valves—like the Lotus valve—in the native mitral position. Post-operative imaging confirmed that the valve was positioned correctly and functioning well with no residual regurgitation.
The procedure is similar in many ways to the valve-in-valve or valve-in-ring procedures that are currently performed to correct degenerated surgical prostheses.
World’s Smallest Pacemaker
Correcting cardiac arrhythmia sometimes requires implantation of a cardiac pacemaker. As with any intervention, this type of surgery also involves risks such as abnormal wound healing, vascular obliteration or inflammation around the electrode. The Micra transcatheter pacemaker, from Medtronic, functions without an electrode and is small, weighing only 1.75 grams (26 mm long and 6.7 mm in diameter).
The device is inserted via the femoral vein, and once in place, it attaches itself to the internal wall of the right ventricle via the trabeculae, the muscle fibers of the heart. The pacemaker then delivers the necessary electrical impulses to the heart wall to regulate the rhythm.
With a battery life of 10 years, instead of removing the pacemaker to change the battery, a new device is implanted next to the defunct one; the device is intended only for use in patients over the age of 70 years as only 1 or 2 implants are envisaged.
Dr. Vítor Lagarto from the Hospital Geral Santo António Porto, Portugal is an interventional cardiologist whose department is part of a network testing these small pacemakers. He has carried out a pilot study, so far placing the pacemakers in two patients. His colleague João Silveira is a specialist in heart valve replacement. Both are highly enthusiastic about these new developments. “So far we have had excellent results with these new technologies and have been able to perform operations in patients that previously would have been excluded from this type of procedure.”
Platforms such as the Corindus CorPath System are gaining certification for catheter-based procedures. FDA approval for the CorPath System was obtained based on the successful outcome of a clinical trial in 30 patients. The system can be used for percutaneous coronary interventions (PCIs) performed via the radial artery.
In the U.S., this route is used in more than 40% of interventions and is considered to deliver similar success as femoral procedures, but with fewer access site or vascular complications. Studies suggest that radial PCI procedures can significantly reduce hospital stays and associated costs as patients are able to return home shortly after intervention.
Figuring out ways to travel beyond our planet often presents us with innovations that also make staying on it somewhat better – not least, when it comes to healthcare: CAT-scanners, memory foam mattresses and ear thermometers are just a few examples of inventions that have their origins in space travel engineering.
If telesurgery designed for space exploration, as discussed in MiroSurge article, is not your idea of telemedicine, what Patientus is building may come closer. Plus, Patientus has the added benefit of a particularly easy-to-use graphic interface, which could simplify telemedicine both for patients and doctors.
HD Video Chat
This online video consultation tool doesn’t require any software or plug-in installation and works directly via a web browser. Its interface makes it possible to have HD video chats, to drag and scale each window and to exchange specific medical data such as X-ray images.
Regarding security, “We provide high data security by not using servers but P2P connections,” explained Nicolas Schulwitz, Patientus CEO. P2P, or peer-to-peer, is a technology in which data exchanges require no centralized intermediary, and are therefore not an easy target for hackers.
Real Meeting Before Online Diagnosis
Patientus launched in August. Any licensed doctor can participate. The doctors pay a monthly fee, while patients can access the service for free then pay a fee set up by the doctor. The process is eased by the fact that the doctor and his patient are supposed to have met previously. “Patients need to have been to the doctor’s office once. In Germany, you can’t do online diagnosis,” explained Schulwitz.
Patientus’ next step could be wearables: The German start-up is working on APIs, which should make it possible to embed into the online consultation service data coming from medical wearable devices.
The eKuore pro, developed by a health technology firm based in Spain, can do everything a traditional stethoscope can do—that is, enable a doctor or other health professional listen to a patient’s heartbeat and breathing—plus a whole lot more, according to its manufacturers.
The stethoscope uses Bluetooth technology to connect to a mobile device such as a tablet or phone via an app, and doctors can record, process and share the results of the auscultation. The device can be connected to speakers so that both the patient and health professionals can listen in. Operators can also apply pulmonary and cardiac filters to the device at a flick of a switch.
Recording the Auscultation
Francisco Viana, head of marketing for eKuore, says that being able to record the auscultation has huge benefits for health care staff—and patients.
“Recording the auscultation improves both the diagnosis and the treatment since it allows the doctor to get a second professional opinion, to check the findings against a database or compare the patient’s status over time in an objective way,” he says.
The device, which was first launched in the veterinary market in 2013, has been available for human use since the beginning of this year, and a second generation will be launched next year. It is aimed at anyone using a traditional stethoscope, but Viana believes those working in primary care will benefit most.
Share Recording With a Specialist
“This device allows primary care doctors to reduce the level of uncertainty in the diagnosis, as they can share the auscultation recording with a specialist. This way they can offer a solution more effectively and quickly,” he says.
Nurses caring for patients at home will also find the device invaluable, says Viana, as they can share the results of auscultations with specialists, reducing unnecessary referrals and prioritizing patients who need hospital treatment.
The Stethoscope as an Attractive Tool
The stethoscope, whose design has changed only a little since its invention by French physician René Laënnec 200 years ago, has come to symbolize the medical profession. Viana says the company was keen that the wireless stethoscope was not only a useful but also an attractive tool.
“We dismissed many prototypes because they didn’t convince healthcare professionals. They were too technical and not really elegant,” he says.
Viana says that eKuore is better than other digital products and its main competitor is the traditional stethoscope.
“In the last year other companies have brought out digital stethoscopes but our technology allows a high quality of sound and usability which are difficult to equal,” he says.
Panasonic’s 3-D Multiview Anatomy System turns cadaver dissection into a 21st multimedia tool. It relies on layer-by-layer dissections photographed and integrated into the system. Through this tool, medical schools can dig into each part of the body, including the head, neck, breast, abdomen, pelvis, back, upper limbs and lower limbs.
Standard imaging features, such as keyword search or high-resolution capture are available. What makes this system so special is its 3-D feature. Using 3-D glasses, medical students and professors can feel like they are journeying into a cadaver, a truly unique dissection experience.
3-D Multiview Anatomy System can also be used as an assist tool for cadaver dissection.