MedLogic's new scanner can show life-threatening bleeding from a head injury
June 5, 2013 8:45 AM
The Infrascanner Model 2000 is a handheld system that can detect a hematoma in minutes. Based in Sewickley, MedLogic is the exclusive U.S. civilian distributor of the product.
By Steve Twedt Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
MedLogic, a privately held Sewickley-based company founded last year, has secured domestic distribution rights for a non-invasive scanner that can detect internal and possibly life-threatening bleeding from a head injury, a device that a noted local neurosurgeon says represents "a paradigm shift in how head injuries are going to be monitored."
The Infrascanner Model 2000 is a hand-held device that is placed against the head, then uses near-infrared light to show dark areas in or near the brain that could indicate dangerous bleeding.
"If there's any blood on the surface of the brain or on the lining of the skull, there's a big red spot that shows up," said neurosurgeon Joseph Maroon, vice chairman of neurological surgery at UPMC and member of MedLogic's medical advisory board.
MedLogic, a Sewickley firm, has U.S. distribution rights for a hand-held device that detects intercranial bleeding. (YouTube video; 6/5/2013)
The other major benefit, he said, is that absent any sign of bleeding, the device may help physicians decide it's not necessary to order a CAT scan. Such scans can expose patients to 100 to 400 times the radiation of a common X-ray.
MedLogic's officials see wide applications for their device in quickly, safely and cheaply letting medical personnel know how to respond to a possible concussion. It received FDA approval in January.
The cost will vary, company officials say, based on factors such as geographic location and they hope to develop lower cost models that would be affordable for EMS programs. A five-year lease costs about $480 per month.
The company has so far raised $600,000 from its founders and $150,000 from one local angel investor. Peter H. Thomson, president and general counsel, said there is still "a small window of opportunity" for those interested in investing, but "we are comfortable that window will diminish once sales peak."
Potential markets include sports medicine, veterans hospitals, urgent care, EMS, emergency rooms, industrial sites, nursing homes, cruise ships and amusement parks. MedLogic officials expect the hand-held devices will some day be as common as defibrillators.
With growing attention to the risks of concussions, it's also easy to imagine equipping trainers at high school football games using such devices.
MedLogic CEO Clarence Carlos, who played football at West Virginia University, said he was drawn to finding ways of detecting serious head injuries after a friend's son died from a sports-related brain injury that was not immediately detected.
Dr. Maroon noted one important distinction in what Infrascanner does and the current discussion on long-term brain injuries in football: While the device will pick up intracranial bleeding, it does not detect the brain damage caused by a series of minor concussions that may become evident only years later. Nor is it meant to replace CAT scans.
A better example of Infrascanner's potential value, he said, was the tragic death of actress Natasha Richardson in 2009.
While vacationing at a Canadian resort, Ms. Richardson, 45, fell during a ski lesson but showed no immediate signs of serious injury. About two hours later her condition started deteriorating and she sought care. She was later transferred to a New York hospital where she died two days after the fall that caused bleeding inside her skull.
"If they had had [an Infrascanner] on the ski slope, they would have known right away" about the bleeding, said Dr. Maroon.
Ms. Richardson's case is rare -- concussions causing subdural hematomas happen less than 2 percent of the time. But if a child falls off a skateboard, gets hit with a hockey stick or a lacrosse stick, then feels dizzy or nauseous, "the protocol calls for a CAT scan to be absolutely sure there's no problem," he said. "I'm sure that hundreds of thousands of CAT scans have been done unnecessarily."
Radiation exposure from such a scan presents its own hazards especially when multiple scans are done as might happen when symptoms emerge over a period of time. "You get a couple of CAT scans and you wonder if there are a couple of malignancies induced by this," said Dr. Maroon.
"But if you have a device like this, where 98 to 99 percent of the time it will rule out an intracranial hematoma, then everybody sleeps better."