Eindhoven, The Netherlands, November 18, 2018
Working in the medical sector, whether as a nurse, researcher, or doctor, is often physically demanding. Healthcare workers are reported to sustain musculoskeletal injuries (MSI) at a rate exceeding that of workers in other industries.1,2 MSI is defined as an injury or disorder of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, nerves, blood vessels, or related soft tissue, including a sprain, strain, and inflammation that may be caused or aggravated by physical work. MSI is also known by other familiar names, including repetitive strain injuries (RSI) or work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSD). International statistics indicate that 80–95% of sonographers experience work-related pain, and 90% experience this pain for more than half their career.3,4 One in five sonographers decide to end their career due to unbearable pain.4
Sonography is an essential part of the healthcare service. Consequently, it is of high priority to identify and minimise risk factors associated with the job to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. Work-related strain injuries lead to poor patient care, financial burdens, and low productivity in the workplace; therefore, prevention of these injuries is key for both the healthcare worker and the employer. Performing stress echocardiography during physical exercise is even more challenging due to a suboptimal patient position and dynamic movements of the patient’s chest. Continuous measurements are preferred during the procedure to detect small, quickly reversible heart wall motion abnormalities; however, due to the vigorous movements of the patient’s body, it is very difficult to procure the correct images, which can lead to inaccurate results. Furthermore, specialists increasingly experience pain while scanning. For example, redundant arm abduction and high muscle activity can cause severe soreness in shoulders, arms, and wrists.
The Dutch company Usono have proposed an innovative solution called the ‘ProbeFix’. This product started out as a tool to carry out measurements during a project of one of its founders and current CEO, Benjamin Tchang. Together with his co-founders Victor Donker (COO) and Jori Verbeek (CTO), Tchang now leads an internationally operating company. They collectively share the passion to create solutions to improve healthcare for medical staff and Usono has the mission to ease, improve, and innovate the use of ultrasound.
The ProbeFix is Usono’s first smart ultrasound solution to provide a lengthy and stable fixation of an existing cardiac ultrasound probe to the body. The ProbeFix was co-created with hospitals in the Netherlands, such as UMC Utrecht, Maxima Medical Centre, and Erasmus MC, ensuring the product can efficiently benefit multiple specialists.
The device facilitates hands-off workflow, continuous measurement, and improved reproducibility of the ultrasound image. The probe can be physically tilted or rotated at any time. With three and four-dimensional (3D/4D) probes with digital rotation, the workflow is even easier and more hands-off. These features make ProbeFix ideal for lengthy echocardiographic procedures, which was proven in a recent publication.5 Even during exercise on an ergometer or a treadmill, the reporting window stays the same. In addition, ergonomics is improved due to the hands-off workflow, which can eventually lead to reduced RSI. Usono has started to receive requests from several centres internationally, with interest growing in the fact that ProbeFix could be effective to prevent RSI for cardiologists and sonographers. A yet to be published study has shown that ProbeFix reduces the time of right shoulder abduction and muscle activity in the right forearm (unpublished data).
ProbeFix is especially valuable in stress echocardiography as the fixed probe increases the reproducibility of the ultrasound image, which in turn significantly optimises examination quality. Prof Thomas Binder, founder and CEO of 123sonography has many years’ experience in echocardiography and recently learned about the benefits of ProbeFix: “I just love innovations like this. ProbeFix can change the way we perform ultrasound in the future. It has great potential in combination with 3D probes, especially in stress echocardiography. With ProbeFix, echo is less strenuous and will prevent arm and shoulder injuries”.6
Usono is working with various hospitals in the Netherlands and is geographically expanding via distributors Mermaid Medical and MDS Cardio to multiple countries, such as the UK, Norway, and Poland. ProbeFix is also distributed to Australia through Anaeron and Usono has direct customers in Germany, France, and Austria. The ProbeFix is a tool that can be understood best in a real-life demonstration; from 5th–7th December 2018, ProbeFix will be demonstrated in Milan, Italy during EuroEcho-Imaging 2018, and Usono will be present at booth D200 throughout this major echocardiography event. More information can also be found online: https://usono.com/probefix/.
- Goldman RH et al. Prioritizing back injury risk in hospital employees: Application and comparison of different injury rates. J Occup Environ Med. 2000;42(6):645-52.
- Peled K. Workplace safety assessment and injury prevention in hospital settings. Work. 2005;25(3):273-7.
- Jakes C. Sonographers and occupational overuse syndrome: Cause, effect, and solutions. JDMS. 2001;17(6):312-20.
- Pallotta OJ, Roberts A. Musculoskeletal pain and injury in sonographers, causes and solutions. Sonography. 2017;4(1).
- Salden OAE et al. How I do it: Feasibility of a new ultrasound probe fixator to facilitate high quality stress echocardiography. Cardiovascular Ultrasound. 2018;16(1):6.
- Usono. Testimonials: Prof. Thomas Binder. Available at: https://usono.com/testimonials/prof-thomas-binder-md-phd-founder-of-123sonography/. Last accessed: 26 November 2018.
For more information please contact:
- Victor Donker
Usono BV, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Email: [email protected]