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UW Professor, Grad Student Team with Casper Company to Create Augmented Reality for Medical Applications

June 19, 2019
two men wearing augmented reality goggles look at computer
Suresh Muknahallipatna (left), a UW professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Bradley Riotto, a UW master’s student in electrical engineering, demonstrate the AR goggles for which they designed the software application in concert with McGinley Orthopedics of Casper. The two also designed the software interface with the ultrasound probe. (UW Photo)

University of Wyoming researchers and a Casper medical company have teamed up to bring to market an augmented reality (AR) system that will make ultrasound-guided surgical injection procedures easier, faster and more comfortable.

Suresh Muknahallipatna, a UW professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Bradley Riotto, a Jackson master’s student majoring in electrical engineering, worked with Dr. Joseph McGinley, CEO and founder of McGinley Orthopedics in Casper, to design the McGinley Innovations AR system.

The system, which Muknahallipatna says has FDA approval, includes AR goggles and a computer system to connect to nearly all ultrasound systems on the market. The system includes a real-time image display over or near the injection site. This allows surgeons or other medical professionals to visualize the image on the computer screen and the treatment site simultaneously.

“This project is a perfect example of a successful public/private partnership. The engineering team at the University of Wyoming was able to take my clinical concept and work with McGinley Innovations to implement the idea in a practical and usable way,” McGinley says. “I would not have been able to bring this idea to market without their assistance, nor would they have been able to accomplish it independently. It took the collaboration to see this idea to fruition.”

“We are excited to be on the market with the McGinley AR system,” says Diane McGinley, director of operations for McGinley Orthopedics. “It is currently being used in clinical settings. Casper Medical Imaging here in Casper was the first to purchase the system. I love that a Wyoming company was first to support the product.”

Casper Medical Imaging is using the system to treat patients for sports-related injuries and other overuse injuries that require ultrasound-guided injections.

The AR system also is being used by the Badia Hand to Shoulder Center in Miami, Fla., and has been featured on OrthoNow, a popular orthopedic site and blog.

“I think this technology has some really exciting potential, both now and in the future. It has immediate impact by making ultrasound-guided injection procedures easier, faster and more comfortable,” says Riotto, who recently presented his thesis. “In the future, similar systems may be used for a variety of image-guided procedures.”

Previously, surgeons had to turn their heads to look at a computer screen to view the correct spot to insert a needle or perform a particular surgery, Muknahallipatna says. This often caused the surgeon neck strain, and the surgeon had to look back to the patient to estimate the exact spot where to perform the surgery or insert an epidural to a patient’s spinal cord, for example, he says.

“With the AR system, I can see everything around me. With AR, I can project 3-D holograms wherever I want and can still keep working,” Muknahallipatna says of wearing the AR goggles that resemble a golf visor. “We take the ultrasound image going to the monitor. It’s still going to the monitor, but we feed that image to the AR device.

“What you see in the monitor is now floating in the air,” he continues. “You can grab the image with your hands and move it where you want. This lessens stress on the neck, and the surgeon puts the hologram on the body itself.”

Riotto says he started working with the HoloLens for his senior design project while an undergraduate. Around the same time, Muknahallipatna started initial talks with McGinley for doing AR for medical applications.

“Since I was working on AR at the time, Suresh brought me on board, and we started developing for a variety of medical applications, including this one,” Riotto says.

Riotto, who was recently hired as an enterprise software engineer at Charles Stark Draper Lab in Cambridge, Mass., says he essentially designed and implemented the system according to specifications from Muknahallipatna and McGinley and his engineering team.

“We created the software for the device and the software interface with the ultrasound probe,” Muknahallipatna says.

“I enjoyed working with the students to bring the McGinley AR to the market,” Joseph McGinley says. “It is for the betterment of patient care, and they should be proud of their contribution. I hope it inspires them to continue to look for projects and ideas that can make real impact.”

Riotto says the most exciting aspect to him is that, once medical doctors and patients experience how much AR helps in this application, it will open up doors to the use of AR and other technologies in a broad range of applications in the medical field.

“I hope that this technology will be a large influence in modernizing the medical field,” he says.

Muknahallipatna says he, Riotto and John McInroy, head of UW’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, have a licensing agreement with McGinley Orthopedics. UW receives a share of each system McGinley sells, he says.

While she could not discuss specific details due to confidentiality, Victoria Bryant, interim director of UW’s Wyoming Technology Transfer and Research Products Center, says it is a license agreement under which UW receives royalties from McGinley Orthopedics in relation to the AR system.

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