Doctors use ultrasound to guide needles into the body. But the hand-eye coordination required to reach the target can challenge even skilled surgeons as they try to biopsy tumors, insert central lines, or deliver local anesthesia.
Now, a new navigation system, called Clear Guide ONE, helps doctors by letting them “see” exactly how to get to a site deep within the body. The optical head, which looks like the lovable little Disney robot Wall*e, mounts onto most ultrasound probes. It’s only 5 ounces, but its buggy eyes house highly sophisticated computer vision technology that lets doctors see needle path trajectory on a nearby computer screen—before they make the first prick.
These prying eyes and accompanying software were developed at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Emad Boctor, PhD ’07, and postdoc Philipp J. Stolka worked with the Whiting School’s Computer Science Department chair Greg Hager to invent the system. In January, the gadgets will be headed to their first commercial buyers.