Monday, July 24, 2017

Looking For The Blood Vessel


Medtra Innovative Technologies, a start-up, has made the Veineux, a product that can detect veins through infrared rays. So, injections can be done easily

By Shevlin Sebastian

In September, 2011, Saj Sulaiman was looking at his seven-day-old son Adan through a glass panel in the neonatal intensive care unit of a hospital in Kottayam. Because of a cold, the infant was in distress. After a while a nurse came to give an injection. But somehow, she could not find a vein. It took several attempts before she could finally inject the medicine. “It was a worrying time for me as a parent,” he says. “I never forgot that moment.”

This is a common problem in most hospitals. “Identifying a vein is not easy,” says Saj. “30 per cent is visible. For the remaining 70 per cent, you need to prick at least three times, before the nurse or doctor can locate the vein.”

Usually, this problem is seen in new-born babies. Since mothers eat well these days, the babies are on the heavier side, at 3 kgs. So, it is difficult to find a vein. This is also the case with patients who undergo chemotherapy. Many veins became damaged owing to over-use. In cardiology cases, to insert the balloon, you need to find the right vein. Another vein which is difficult to find is the jugular. This is needed during neurosurgery and critical cases.

A couple of years ago, Saj, through his Riyadh-based Medtra Limited Company, began marketing a US product. This palm-sized machine locates the vein easily through an infrared ray. But he found that there were few takers in the huge Indian market, because the American item was priced at Rs 6 lakh.

He was wondering what to do, when he came on a visit to Kochi two years ago, and met up with his friend Sujith Surendran. They were classmates at the Government Polytechnic at Vechoochira in Pathanamthitta district. The pair got talking. Soon, they decided to start a company, Medtra Innovative Technologies, and decided to make an Indian version. “We did not infringe on the patent at all,” says Sujith. “The US company had only patented some particular processes.”

After several trial and error attempts, the company has come up with the Veineux (the French word for a 'vein'). And it is being priced at less than Rs 1 lakh. A large number of Chinese players have also entered the market, but their products are priced at Rs 3.5 lakh. “So, we can easily compete with them,” says Saj. “We hope many hospitals and clinics will buy our product.”

Essentially, a button is pressed and an infrared ray is pointed at the skin. The penetration factor of the ray is 1.5 mm, while the vein usually lies 1 mm below the skin's surface. “Whereever there is haemoglobin in the veins, the absorption of the rays is higher,” says Sujith. “It is seen as a black smudge. That is where the vein is located. Thereafter, you can insert a needle and do the injection.”

This is becoming a vital machine to have. “When a person with haemorrhage is admitted into a hospital, unless a senior nurse comes, it is difficult to find a vein,” says Sujith. “You could lose precious minutes. Recently, at a hospital in Kochi, an elderly patient came and it took 16 nurses to find the vein.”

Before introducing it into the market, in a few weeks, a trial run has been conducted at Kochi's AsterMed City Hospital. “This is very promising product,” says Dr. Jose Paul, senior consultant in neonatology. “When we tested on a baby, the veins looked very prominent. So, it is easy to do the injection. Very likely, we will be buying it.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram)  

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