New wound diagnostic tool goes beyond skin deep

June 17, 2015— Calgary, Alberta

Shining new light on tissue health

Most minor skin wounds should heal themselves over time. However for more serious wounds, their ability to heal is mostly dependent on healthy oxygen levels and a strong blood supply. Measuring this is typically done through a visual assessment of the wound's appearance on the skin's surface, not beneath it.

But now, a new smart-imaging system from Calgary's Kent Imaging drastically improves on this method by allowing medical practitioners to "see" below the skin's surface to determine the blood oxygen levels reaching the interior of the wound.

Using technology licensed from the National Research Council (NRC), Kent Imaging's "Tissue Viability System" (TVS) uses near-infrared light to quickly gauge wound health without requiring any invasive procedures or even needing to touch the affected tissue. By focusing specifically on the interior of a wounded area, the TVS offers a completely new way for thousands of doctors around the world to diagnose wound health, all within just a few seconds.

Zooming in on deep-wound diagnostics

While NRC's wound-assessment technology was originally designed to evaluate tissue damage from burns, Don Chapman, CEO of Kent Imaging, reimagined its use for wound care of all kinds. "In the U.S., about 450,000 burn victims are treated annually, whereas conditions such as obesity and diabetes, which lead to poor circulation and leg sores, top 6.5 million," says Chapman. Of Canada's 2.3 million diabetics, 15 percent will develop foot ulcers that could lead to amputation if the wounds are not treated quickly and properly.

The TVS features a built-in camera and computer that targets the wounded area, calculates the amount of blood oxygen reaching the tissue and provides an easy to understand diagnostic image relating to the ability of the wound to heal. According to Chapman, "the camera calculates and records blood oxygen levels within the tissue surrounding the wound as well as the wound bed itself. This added knowledge gives clinicians better insight into a successful course of treatment.”

Operating much like a digital camera, the TVS quickly snaps a series of photos using flashes of different wavelengths of light that are safe for both skin and eyes. The resulting combination of images displays the blood and oxygenated blood which the naked eye cannot detect alone.

Sharpening the focus on future healing

Chapman reports that without NRC’s initial work in wound assessment technology, he would never have had the resources and technical expertise to design and develop his own device. “NRC researchers are experts in the field, so that took the pressure off me,” he says. “They were exceedingly helpful in making their research understandable and applicable to my market’s specific needs.” He also relied on NRC to ensure that this technology had wide intellectual property protection secured through issued patents.

The TVS, which was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2012, is presently being marketed to doctors and healthcare facilities across the United States. In Canada, the system has been inspected and approved by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and is awaiting Health Canada approval. In the meantime, Kent Imaging continues to work with NRC on enhancements to its technology, including a new portable tablet-sized version of the TVS.

New and illuminating technologies like the TVS are what allow clinicians and healthcare practitioners to provide their patients with a next-generation level of care. In doing so, it helps them to save lives, improve quality of life and to see deeper than ever into the science of wound healing and tissue health.

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