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VOL. 121 | NO. 228 | Monday, November 27, 2006

VeinViewer Device Gets Warm Reception in Medical Community

By Amy O. Williams

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DOCTOR DEMO: Cardiologist Steven Gubin of Stern Cardiovascular Center shows what the Luminetx VeinViewer can do. -- Photo By Amy O. Williams

For many people, the mere thought of a trip to the doctor or hospital inspires fear. Most of that comes from one source - needles.

But one Memphis company has developed technology that could ease the minds of many patients. It's called the VeinViewer, and it could change the way people view having blood drawn.

The VeinViewer Imaging System was developed right here in Memphis by Luminetx Corp. at 1256 Union Ave.

As its name implies, the technology - called vascular imaging - allows a clinician to see the veins in a patient's arm, preventing repeated needle sticks and pain - and the anxiety associated with it.

Patients at Mays & Schnapp Pain Clinic and Rehabilitation Center at 55 Humphreys Center are some of the first in Memphis to benefit from the new technology provided with the VeinViewer.

"We started using it on the day it was delivered two weeks ago," said Dr. Moacir Schnapp, one of the clinic's physician partners. "We have had an excellent response from the patients, because the patients we had to stick two or three times before, now we can get it the first time."

Minimizing pain

Mays & Schnapp treats patients with severe chronic pain resulting from conditions such as cancer, ruptured discs and chronic neck and back problems.

"We deal with people who already have enough pain; they don't need us to inflict any more pain," he said.

Many times, patients delay medical treatment because they can't stand to be stuck repeatedly with needles, Schnapp said.

The first time he saw the VeinViewer, Schnapp said he knew the clinic had to have one. And he is not alone, said Jim Phillips, president and chief executive officer of Luminetx.

Luminetx made its VeinViewer product available to medical facilities this month, and already has received orders for more than 3,000 of the $25,000 units.

"The reception from the medical community has been over the top," Phillips said. "Every physician, every hospital we've shown it to has said they want one."

Illuminating technique

The vascular imaging technology in the VeinViewer uses light to produce an image of the blood vessels that lie just beneath the surface of the skin - up to a depth of 8 mm, or 1/3 of an inch, to be exact. The image is then projected onto the surface of the skin without causing any harm.

The benefit is that the person trying to access the vein now has a clear view of the best possible place, whether they are inserting an IV, treating spider veins or just drawing blood.

The VeinViewer is especially helpful for physicians and phlebotomists (people who draw blood) who work with children, Phillips said.

"It's especially good on children, where it's really hard to find a vein," he said. "It finds the vein very easily, and that's why pediatric hospitals all over the country have ordered them."

Ready for takeoff

Stern Cardiovascular Center in Memphis received its VeinViewer last month, and Dr. Steven Gubin said the patients there have benefited greatly from the device. Many of the procedures performed at Stern require IV access, Gubin said, and the process is made easier with the VeinViewer.

For some of the patients at the center, the process of looking for veins is often very stressful, and Gubin said he hopes the addition of the VeinViewer will make it more pleasant.

"The patients are more comfortable and the phlebotomists are more comfortable," he said. "And that's the reason we thought it was so important."

Only time will tell what uses the new technology yields, but as far as the health care industry is concerned, Schnapp, Phillips and Gubin say they believe the VeinViewer will change things.

Gubin sees the units getting smaller and more portable, he said. Right now, each VeinViewer stands about 6 feet tall and rolls around on a platform with wheels.

The technology, he said, may one day help doctors to identify arteries for numerous other types of procedures, such as coronary artery bypass grafting.

"It's one of the neatest things I've seen developed in a long time," Gubin said.

Schnapp could not agree more. Since the pain clinic acquired its unit, he said it's been used at least a dozen times a day.

"It's a very ingenious device," he said. "Eventually, this is going to turn into the standard of care, where if you go to a lab in the future to have blood drawn, you're going to call and make sure they have one of these."

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