Going Under Sedation Just Got Safer with This New, Life-Saving Device
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Going Under Sedation Just Got Safer with This New, Life-Saving Device

Brian Blum — Israel21c.org
Aug 24, 2017

An Israeli startup company has combined wearables and optics to provide the breath volume monitoring needed to keep patients safe in the operating room.

(Israel) — [ISRAEL21c] Going under sedation for an operation can sometimes be riskier than the surgical procedure itself. It’s not a problem with the anesthetic. (Photo Courtesy: The BreatheVision team. CTO Ditza Auerbach is fourth from right. CEO Menashe Terem is on the far left via Israel21c.org)

Rather, “drug-induced respiratory depression [not breathing enough] is the primary cause of morbidity associated with sedation and analgesia,” the American Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates reported with alarm in 2016.

Existing medical devices monitor a patient’s breathing rate or the level of oxygen in the blood, but not breathing “volume” – the depth of the breaths. A spirometer can do that, but it requires patient cooperation and cannot be used for continuous monitoring.

An Israeli startup is tackling the breathing gap with a new solution that combines wearables and optics to provide the monitoring that surgeons and anesthesiologists need to keep patients safe in the operating room.

The wearable part of BreatheVision’s SafeSed system consists of EEG-like patches and a belt that can be worn over the clothes. The optics part involves a camera that tracks infrared emitters attached to the belt or patches.

“Scientists have been trying for many years to measure volume from a simple accelerometer,” explains Menashe Terem, BreatheVision’s CEO, referring to the stickers and belts. “But the signal is too ‘noisy.’ Only the combination of optics and wearables can do the job well enough.”

SafeSed’s third component is an alarm system that informs the surgical staff immediately when a patient has a breathing problem. It has to be 99 percent accurate, Terem tells ISRAEL21c, so as not to cause “alarm fatigue” resulting too many alarms or false alarms that will be ignored. (Photo Credit: BreatheVision.com)

In addition to accuracy, SafeSed is significantly cheaper than anything else in the market. Capnographs, which monitor breathing through carbon dioxide levels, run up to $3,000 per unit; SafeSed will sell for less than $700 when the product comes to market in 2018. That’s because the SafeSed technology is made up of off-the-shelf hardware. The secret sauce is the algorithms that make sense of the data.

The disposables – the parts of the device that touch the patient’s body – cost $5-$6 per patient vs. $15-$30 for disposables used with capnographic monitoring, Terem notes.

BreatheVision has identified its initial target market as the hospital gastroenterology department – with a particular emphasis on monitoring patients undergoing colonoscopy. And while SafeSed can be used anywhere sedation is required, going for the gastro is a smart business decision, Terem says.

“The gastro departments in the hospital or at a clinic are unique in that physicians tend to use their own equipment and do a large number of procedures – often four to six per day,” Terem says. “A gastro physician’s main focus is in looking for polyps or cancer. So he needs good alerts with an easy-to-read display. We don’t require any special training. That makes us very user-friendly.”

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