University of Western Australia: New tool for cardiologists and device for easy vein access win innovation awards

A new tool that provides cardiologists with rapid information to treat patients with heart disease and a device designed to find the ‘right vein, first time’ were winners at the WA Innovator of the Year 2021 Awards.

Apricot, an advanced coronary artery assessment tool developed by a team of researchers from The University of Western Australia and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, won the Rio Tinto Emerging Innovation category.

The tool aims to provide new information to the cardiologist when treating a patient during catheterisation theatre, known as the Cath Lab, where procedures such as stenting are carried out.

The new information combines the anatomical data that they can see on the images, with engineering-based information that they cannot see, to give a better idea of how to treat the patient.

Associate Professor Barry Doyle and Dr Lachlan Kelsey from UWA’s School of Engineering and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research developed the methods over the past seven years in collaboration with Professor Carl Schultz, the UWA Chair in Cardiology and an interventional cardiologist at Royal Perth Hospital.

Associate Professor Doyle said the technology began from a research question around wanting to advance understanding about how the mechanical forces contributed to disease in the artery and then evolved into a new suite of software tools.

“When treating patients, cardiologists often use many different types of images to see the problem,” Associate Professor Doyle said. “Apricot merges the different images together to create an advanced 3D visualisation of the diseased artery.

“The software then performs engineering simulations, similar to what would be used in oil and gas pipelines, to update the images with this new information.”

Nikhilesh Bappoo’s, from the UWA –affiliated Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, is the co-founder director and CTO of VeinTech, a medical device company aiming to improve patient and physician experience in vascular access practices.

VeinTech was awarded the Business News Great for the State – Platinum Award for VeinWave, a portable hand-held vein imaging device designed to help clinicians successfully target the right vein, first time, every time.

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