For years doctors could only listen to the sound of your heart with a stethoscope to determine it was functioning well and even today doctors are often pictured with a stethoscope around their neck. In fact, 30-40 years ago ultrasound was introduced to look at the function of the heart and today every cardiologist uses a 2D ultrasound machine many times a day, but it could be better. Everyone is different and due to the physics of sound and the anatomy of people, it is often impossible to get clear images for all standard 16 views (slices of the heart). It then becomes very difficult for the cardiologist to assess all aspects of heart function. This limitation has been overcome by a small Canadian Company, Ventripoint Diagnostics Ltd (TSXV:VPT).
Ventripoint has been working on this problem for over 15 years and has developed and patented an artificial intelligence (AI) technology called knowledge-based reconstruction (KBR). This revolutionary approach uses a library of heart images – both normal and dysfunctional, to help analyze a patient’s heart using the images from conventional 2D ultrasound. The Company has scoured the world for the oddest hearts as it has discovered the best way to deal with anyone’s heart is to have the extreme hearts in the library. This focus has allowed their whole heart analysis system to yield results equivalent to MRI from ultrasound images.
The key to Ventripoint’s AI approach is the ability to use sparse data to build a 3D model of the heart. Only a few points in each view is enough for the KBR to build an accurate model. It does this extremely accurately and so the cardiologist can be confident in the results. This approach is obvious to clinicians who look at heart images every day; plus the technique is very easy to learn. The company just announced a study where 100% of clinicians were able to learn and operate the newest model, the VMS+3.0, with just three hours of training. Even better – they were able to remember how to do it a few days later without assistance.
A special focus of the company has been heart disease in children. Most infants born with a heart problem have defective right hearts. It is particularly challenging to get clear views of the right heart. Placing infants and toddlers in an MRI is the only other way to determine the full nature of their heart problems and this is both dangerous and expensive. It was this concern that inspired Ventripoint to search for a better technique.
One of the hardest parts of a pediatric cardiologists job is to decide to do an MRI on a child. It takes 1.5 to 2.5 hours inside an MRI to capture the same views you can get with ultrasound in 10 minutes. Obviously, an MRI is traumatic to a child as they need to be sedated and put on a mechanical ventilator and forced to hold their breath during image acquisition. You can see why the decision is so stressful for doctors and parents.
Here is what Dr. Luc Mertens at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto had to say about the VMS:
“We found an excellent agreement between both techniques and…decided to introduce the method in our Echocardiography Laboratory. The first results…the VMS is a robust clinical tool. I see a multitude of potential applications for the VMS that can significantly impact the care of patients with heart disease.”
A Picture of the Whole Heart
So where is Ventripoint in its quest to change the way hearts are analyzed? The Company has now developed a smaller, more user-friendly VMS+3.0, which analyzes the whole heart. The company is at a tipping point with a validated technology that addresses a large unmet medical need with a global market.
Time to Sound off to the World about a Better Way
Ventripoint exhibited the new VMS+3.0 to the 17,000 attendees at the largest heart ultrasound congress in the world last month. They had live scanning in the booth, so everyone could try it out. Major adult cardiac centres and Children’s Hospitals in Canada have been waiting for the new versions and already, just a few days after being licensed for use by Health Canada, they have sent in purchase orders.
The Company has also just received approval in Europe and is awaiting clearance from FDA. The stock price has started to move up in the last few weeks in anticipation of sales and more approvals and now would be the ideal time to invest in Ventripoint (TSXV:VPT).
Sounds like an opportunity!
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