Using Multispectral Imaging to Improve Treatment Decisions
Spectral MD (Dallas, Texas) is a medical device developer of non-invasive diagnostic technology that allows clinicians to look deep into the body for wound management, burn analysis and assessment of chronic conditions such as diabetic ulcers and peripheral vascular disease (PVD). The company’s DeepView™ Wound Imaging System uses multispectral imaging technology from Ocean Optics to assess patient physiology below the surface of the skin.
Recently, we interviewed Spectral MD’s Brian McCall, an imaging systems engineer, about the challenges of wound assessment and his experience in working with Ocean Optics.
OO: How are evolving imaging technologies affecting wound management?
BM: Wound care is a challenging practice in any field, but especially in burn victims. Improving the tools used to provide and manage this care not only lowers health care costs, but reduces patient pain and suffering. For burn victims, from adults to young children, the suffering can be particularly acute, and helping these patients is what gets us up in the morning.
OO: How does Spectral MD’s technology affect the world around us?
BM: We are a clinical research stage medical device company breaking the barriers of light to see deep inside the body. Our technology has the potential to improve the standard of burn care and chronic wound care. Burn care and research and development of our imaging technology are currently funded by two government organizations: the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and the Defense Health Agency.
OO: How does Spectral MD’s DeepView Wound Imaging System help clinicians?
BM: Currently in burn care, care providers make treatment decisions with clinical judgment alone, because the only accurate diagnostic tests available require invasive biopsy collection. Scientific literature indicates expert burn care providers make incorrect diagnoses of burn depth in as often as 30% of cases. Our non-invasive technology has the potential to make burn diagnosis earlier, with higher accuracy. This could reduce diagnosis errors, reduce hospital stays, and even allow non-burn experts such as emergency room physicians to make better triage decisions.
Also, we are working to improve the assessment of chronic conditions such as diabetic ulcers and PVD. Recently, we were awarded a National Institutes of Health grant to identify potential imaging characteristics that would improve the success of amputations resulting from PVD and critical limb ischemia. There are over 150,000 amputations every year in the U.S. resulting from PVD, where upward of 30% fail and require another amputation, to a higher level [on the limb]. These patients would benefit from a device that aids doctors in making accurate decisions on where to perform the amputation such that healing was guaranteed. Our technology has the potential to provide this information.
OO: What do you see as one of the biggest challenges in medical imaging?
BM: One of the most common challenges in medical imaging is not the development of the technology, but the amount of data needed to refine the algorithms, whether based on artificial neural networks or traditional methods, to the point where they can provide a standard of care that is as reliable as a doctor at a patient’s bedside.
OO: Ocean Optics has worked closely with Spectral MD for several years now. What made you choose us?
BM: Ocean Optics had the hardware, software and support we needed to get started on the project quickly. You offered off-the-shelf optics tools without compromising on quality. As our research has developed and matured, our use of Ocean Optics technologies has grown as well, and your technology offerings have been able to meet our growing needs. We wouldn’t be where we are without Ocean Optics, and are excited about what your new technology means for the next generation of our devices!
OO: What do you see for the future of medical imaging?
BM: For visible, near infrared, and shortwave infrared light imaging, there are three areas where medical imaging will see the greatest amount of growth in the next decade. Optical coherence tomography has undergone some amazing advances since it was introduced almost 40 years ago. More clinical applications that need OCT’s unique capabilities will be explored in the coming years. Established laboratory technologies that rely on imaging, such as PCR, confocal microscopy, and whole slide scanning, which are used for diagnostics and personalized medicine, will be miniaturized to the point where these instruments can be found at patient bedsides instead of remote laboratories. And multispectral imaging will continue to play a larger role in diagnostics and patient care as its increased ability to discriminate benign and diseased conditions versus visual inspection and traditional imaging are explored further.