3D imager could improve wound treatment process

Doctors may be able to heal wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers faster with a handheld 3D imaging system that can model the progress of healthy tissue forming in deep sores.

This is the belief of Oxford University spin-out Eykona Technologies, which has developed a product based on a combination of photometry and stereo imaging.

The company expects to have a customised touch-screen camera and proprietary clinical measurement software for standard PCs on the market early next year. Dr Peter Bannister, product development manager for Eykona, said there will be a large demand for high-tech wound-monitoring products because current approaches that rely on tracing paper and cotton buds do not give accurate volumetric information.  

He said: ‘Currently, the NHS spend on wound care is £3bn per year. Last time I spoke to someone from the NHS…their overall budget was £108bn so we’re looking at 2-3 per cent of the entire NHS budget being spent on people with chronic wounds.’

The Eykona camera incorporates several light sources for illuminating each shot angle from multiple directions, plus photometric and stereo imaging sensors.

Bannister said photometric imaging, which recovers shape from shadows and shading, is ideal for attaining ‘local detail’ such as pores, hairs and fingerprints. Whereas stereo imaging, he said, is better at capturing ‘lower-frequency’ information such as overall structure.

Eykona’s proprietary software reconstructs the data acquired by the camera into high-resolution 3D computer models. Bannister said these models will give doctors a clearer view on the growth of healthy tissue inside a wound and help them decide whether current treatment is making a difference.

‘From the point of view of the NHS and other health authorities abroad, they’re spending a lot of money on treatments that just aren’t working,’ he said.

‘So wound-care specialists have realised for a long time they need an easy-to-use and accurate way to assess wound size so they can tell whether or not people are responding appropriately to therapies.

‘There has not been a lot of technical innovation in this space and as a result we think this is going to improve patient outcome significantly and save healthcare providers money.’