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Cardiac Augmented-Reality Hologram System in Development

Cardiac hologram

Cardiac hologram (SentiAR Inc.)

12 February 2018. A start-up company spun-off from Washington University in St. Louis was awarded a grant to advance an augmented reality system that displays an interactive hologram of a patient’s heart, to simplify cardiac procedures. SentiAR Inc. in St. Louis, formed just last year, is receiving the first installment of a planned $2.2 million in funding from National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of National Institutes of Health.

SentiAR’s software is designed to display a three-dimensional image of the patient’s heart portrayed on an augmented reality headset. Through the headset, the surgeon can view the heart, constructed with images from computed tomography or CT and MRI scans, as well as mapping data from catheters used in cardiac procedures. The first application of the system is arrhythmia, defined as any change from the normal sequence of electrical impulses regulating heart beats. Heart rhythm disorders prevent the heart from pumping adequate supplies of blood throughout the body, and can lead to blood clots, strokes, or damage to other organs.

The SentiAR system displays the heart hologram at eye level, without impairing the surgeon’s normal field of view during the procedure. The system, using Microsoft’s HoloLens platform, allows the patient’s hologram image to be manipulated with hand gestures, as well as expanded, rotated, entered, and measured as needed. The holograms can also be shared with other clinicians wearing headsets in the operating room.

SentiAR bases its technology on research conducted at Washington University by pediatric cardiologist Jennifer Silva and biomedical engineering professor Jonathan Silva, whose lab studies computational models to represent the various interacting scales of the heart’s electrical control system. The lab’s research aims to connect these scales and better understand their interactions to provide new therapeutic targets for patients with arrhythmia and other cardiac disorders.

The NIH grant, provided under the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research, or SBIR, program, is expected to deliver an augmented-reality/hologram system that can simplify ablation procedures to correct arrhythmias. These procedures use a catheter to deliver heat to destroy a small number of heart cells suspected of causing the irregular heart beat. While these procedures are relatively common — the company says some 1 million ablations occur each year — they’re still complex and can pose risks for patients. The SentiAR system aims to provide better real-time data about the patient’s heart to simplify these procedures for the surgeon.

SBIR funding for SentiAR is expected to total $2.2 million. The first installment of $223,532 covers the first 6 months of the project, through July 2018. Further funding, according to statement by SentiAR and BioGenerator, a biomedical business incubator in St. Louis supporting SentiAR, is based on achieving designated milestones. SentiAR already received $1.1 million in seed funds, co-led by BioGenerator that provided $400,000 of that amount.

“By improving the visualization of this information and empowering the physician with direct control of the model,” says co-founder and chief medical officer Jennifer Silva in the SentiAR-BioGenerator statement, “we will make these procedures both simpler and safer. Knowing that our peers – cardiologists and engineers – see the value of our solution and the potential impact it will have for both patients and practitioners is tremendous validation for SentiAR’s model.”


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