Among the hottest topics in healthcare is the “operating room of the future,” which is on the brink of transformation as new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), voice recognition, digital technology and augmented reality are integrated.
And at the forefront is EchoPixel, a Fogarty Institute graduate that has created an interactive, True 3D medical visualization software that allows physicians to view and interact with organs as if they were physical objects. The company is quickly becoming one of the key players that is allowing surgeons to help patients more effectively and less invasively, exemplified by last year’s successful separation of the Sandoval conjoined twins, where EchoPixel’s technology was indispensable in helping plan the surgery and finding the best approach to solve unexpected complications during the 17-hour procedure.
Since graduating from the Fogarty Institute earlier this year and closing a successful Series A round of $8.5 million, EchoPixel has moved to its own offices in Santa Clara, Calif., and made great strides on the clinical use side, as it expands its footprint and applications for its software.
Success at Stanford
Stanford, an early adopter of EchoPixel’s software, is using its platform to plan for splenic artery embolization. Surgeons were struggling to navigate the tortuous nature of the artery that occurs when coils are deployed during procedures; EchoPixel’s 3D technology is helping them more clearly view the arterial anatomy and identify the correct arteries, which allows them to better plan for the surgery, thus giving them more confidence going into a complex procedure.
Proof of its efficacy was presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) where a group of researchers, led by Zlatko Devcic, MD, a fellow of interventional radiology at Stanford University School of Medicine, compared the use of EchoPixel’s new virtual reality (VR) technology to the use of images from a frequently deployed visualization software system that displays images on a standard two-dimensional platform.
The hospital is also actively using EchoPixel’s platform to treat heart defects in children. Stanford surgeons are now using the software during a significant portion of their surgeries – approximately one-third of the pediatric cardiac surgeries conducted at the hospital.
Interest fuels expansion to additional sites
The success of its platform in pediatrics has piqued the interest of other facilities around the nation, with eight children’s hospitals now using EchoPixel’s 3D software for congenital heart surgery.
On the commercial side, the company is also quickly expanding into interventional radiology procedures for adults, as well as working on the structural heart side. EchoPixel is close to finalizing a new version of their software that supports real-time imaging for echocardiograms and fluoroscopy, which is expected to provide better outcomes for procedures such as mitral valve repair and replacement and left atrial appendage occlusion.
“This is a very exciting time at EchoPixel, as we broaden our reach and expand our ability to play a pivotal role in crucial surgeries,” said Sergio Aguirre, founder and CEO of EchoPixel. “As the first company to support live, real-time imaging in a mixed-reality environment, we are privileged to be on the leading edge of these advanced operating rooms.”
Building its future domestically and abroad
While EchoPixel’s chief focus has been the United States, the company is expanding to China, thanks to its relationship with Boston Scientific, which has appropriated 10 licenses to date. Among the sites using EchoPixel’s software is the prestigious Tsinghua University, which has been ranked fourth in Asia, and 59th globally by US News and World Report in its “Best Global Universities” rankings. EchoPixel expects to receive China’s FDA approval in early 2019.
The company also anticipates several upcoming announcements regarding its new real-time AI and digital health software that will be unveiled in the coming months. Tune in to the company’s Twitter feed to learn more about how this technology will continue to revolutionize surgery and the operating room.