Think of EchoPixel’s tech like InnerSpace but instead of actually minimizing scientists and shooting them into your body to find disease, the medical imaging startup lets doctors pinpoint problem areas from CT, MRI, and ultrasound scans using 3D glasses and a special display.
Most doctors view CT scans in 2D, meaning they can’t see in and around all the details of your body, so it’s harder to find the exact problem. Some even resort to bringing hand-drawn sketches into the operating room. EchoPixel CTO Sergio Aguirre says “It’s really a shame that doctors are still using the same 2D images designed in 1880.”
But with EchoPixel and 3D glasses, internal organs pop off the screen like holograms so doctors can virtually examine a patient from any angle. EchoPixel could radically improve healthcare while reducing time and costs for hospitals and patients. It’s one of the most promising ways virtual reality is making in-roads in healthcare.
EchoPixel achieves this technological feat by employing the 300 million 3D radiology scans performed in the U.S. each year. But instead of flattening them onto a 2D screen, its real-time, interactive 3D imaging system allows doctors to peer into every corner and crevice of your body.
Information can be tailored for specific procedures, and doctors are able to zoom in and pull out something that doesn’t look right from your body scan, or 3D print the image to have a working model for further study. A weird bump or lesion on your intestines is easier to find and examine, for example.
The 3D tech’s ability to virtually enlarge tiny parts of the body is especially helpful for treating newborns. Clinical studies showed doctors were able to find up to 90 percent more congenital heart defects amongst newborns in 40 percent less time. It’s also much quicker to size medical devices like stents because doctors can examine in 3D the place they’ll go. One trial showed sizing time reduced from 40 minutes to just 2.
EchoPixel refers to the tech as interactive VR, even though it’s not like Vive or Oculus. In fact, it’s more convenient. Instead of having to strap on and off a VR headset in the middle of a procedure, doctors can just glance to the side and see the 3D image of what they’re working on.
The startup this year raised a $5.8 million seed round, and is now selling three-year subscriptions to its technology for $25,000 a year. Other companies in the space include Surgical Theater and RealView.
EchoPixel already has the go-ahead from the FDA, and will now seek approvals for Europe and Asia. Eventually, doctors could let precise robots do the incisions while they control them via EchoPixel a few feet away.
We got to try out the new technology on a recent visit to EchoPixel’s Palo Alto, California headquarters, as well as interview one of the doctors now using the product, UCSF’s Dr. Judy Yee, who’s been able to catch potentially cancerous lesions in the gut with EchoPixel.
Check out the video above to see how this technology could speed up productivity in the hospital and help save more lives.