Software that improves the quality and diagnostic power of ultrasound imaging has attracted £610,000 in new investment.

      Developed by Oxford University spin-out Intelligent Ultrasound, the new funds will be used to develop software solutions that reduce the risk of incorrect or missed diagnoses.

      Andy Hill, chief executive officer of Intelligent Ultrasound, said: ‘We expect this software will save the National Health Service [NHS] in excess of £40m pounds per year in cardiology diagnostics alone.’

      Intelligent Ultrasound’s software solutions are said to be based on research from Oxford University’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering by Prof Alison Noble and her team.

      According to a statement from Oxford University technology-transfer company Isis Innovation, there are more than 200,000 ultrasound machines in use in the US and Europe and in the order of half as many again in the rest of the world.

      The range of applications where medical ultrasound is used includes antenatal scanning, diagnosis of disease and structural defects of the heart in cardiology and ultrasound-guided surgery.

      Noble, the Technikos professor of biomedical engineering, said: ‘We are combining conventional ultrasound scanning with advanced automated image analysis post-processing to improve the diagnostic quality of scans and to ensure that the doctor has the best ultrasound-based information to make a clinical decision.

      ‘It is perhaps the most exciting time in more than 20 years to work in ultrasound research due to the rapid developments in 2D and 3D imaging. My laboratory at Oxford is responding to the clinical pull to dramatically reduce healthcare costs by using cost-effective technology such as ultrasound as an alternative to more costly MRI [magnetic resonance imaging] and CT [computed tomography] scanning.’

      The NHS National Innovation Centre has contributed a development award to the company’s fundraising, and nine angel investors, including company founders and the Oxford Invention Fund, have invested to bring the total raised to £610,000. The company expects to complete this current round of funding within a few months.

      The first version of the Intelligent Ultrasound software for use in echocardiography is expected to be available for sale within six months.

      Further versions are being developed for stress echocardiography, obstetrics and ultrasound-guided surgery.


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