Ultrasound Device Invented at Johns Hopkins Now in Clinical Use

Published in Insight - June 2016

Ultrasound imaging systems can help clinicians guide tools like needles toward targets inside the body. However, the images are two-dimensional, requiring continual adjustments of both the ultrasound probe and the needle during procedures such as biopsies, anesthesia and ablations.

The Johns Hopkins Hospital and the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center are now using Clear Guide ONE, a device that calculates a needle’s trajectory, helping clinicians reach a target on the first try.

A prototype was created in 2009 by computer scientist and engineer Emad Boctor and postdoctoral fellow Philipp Stolka in Boctor’s Medical UltraSound Imaging and Intervention Collaboration (MUSiiC) lab. They affixed two small cameras to the ultrasound probe, creating stereo images that work with computer software to show the needle’s path and target on a live ultrasound image.

Fine-tuning took place at Clear Guide Medical, the private company co-founded by Boctor, Stolka, computer science professor Greg Hager and CEO Dorothee Heisenberg. Support came from grants and from FastForward, the Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures accelerator. In 2014, the company won clearance to market the device from the Food and Drug Administration and its Canadian and European equivalents.   

Early in 2016, the FDA cleared a second generation of the technology, which allows pre-acquired CT images to move in concert with the ultrasound, creating 3-D navigation.

Meanwhile, Boctor continues to pursue innovations in his MUSiiC lab. One would use ultrasound energy to test fetal brain health. Another would use imaging to guide infertility treatment procedures.