Walk into a hospital with the telltale symptoms of a stroke, and chances are you’ll get something called a transcranial Doppler ultrasound test. This tool uses ultrasound waves to look inside the brain, noninvasively, to see how fast blood is flowing.
What’s important about that? It’s a useful technique to see whether a clot or piece of scar tissue is gumming things up, potentially causing trouble. The same goes for examining people with head injuries from car accidents, or to check if you are recovering well, or not, from brain surgery.
Any standard ultrasound machine can do this procedure, but it takes a skilled ultrasound technician between 5 and 15 minutes to get a single snapshot of data. What if you could make an automated machine that continuously monitors trends of blood flow in the brain for hours at a time? Wouldn’t that cut down on labor costs, and probably give you a more accurate set of data points to analyze how a patient is doing? Would it be easy enough to take readouts before and after surgery, or before and after drugs are given, to see how well treatment really worked?
That’s the concept driving Bellevue, WA-based PhysioSonics. This company is developing the first tool that’s supposed to give that automated, continuous recording of brain blood flow in the hospital. The company made news a year ago when it received a $4 million investment led by Johnson & Johnson Development Corp., and this month it secured some more financing along with a second strategic partnership with a large, unnamed healthcare company, says CEO Brad Harlow. PhysioSonics isn’t saying much yet about how much proof it has amassed behind this concept, but the company is now making the machines, and is preparing to apply for FDA approval to sell them.
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